In a world in which every day brings a new “miracle” health hack, it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. So, when I noticed that apple cider vinegar (ACV) was having a renaissance on social media—there’s been a huge uptick in Google searches, as well as millions of views on TikTok—it felt like my duty as a health and beauty editor to fall on my metaphorical sword, see what all the fuss is about, and report back.
First of all: what is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a kind of vinegar that’s made in a fermentation process, which (put simply) converts crushed apples to acetic acid by way of yeast and sugar. While acetic acid is thought to offer health benefits, it is the raw, unfiltered ACV that contains a “mother” (made up of bacteria and yeast), which is said to contain the probiotics that are great for our gut.
“ACV is a powerful remedy that has been used for hundreds of years—it’s really stood the test of time,” explains naturopathic nutritionist and founder of Rejuv, Simoné Laubscher, one of the first experts to share their love of ACV with me many years ago. “ACV formulas that have the cloudy ‘mother’ are great for gut health due to their probiotic power. They also help balance blood sugar levels, support digestion and weight management, reduce cholesterol, boost the immune system and have even been said to help with—and even improve—the appearance of acne and scarring.” So, a list of benefits that would have even the biggest wellbeing cynic picking their own apples to ferment.
It actually makes sense that ACV has resurfaced as a popular wellness tip. A 2021 study found that those who followed a diet rich in fermented foods—think yoghurt, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut—had increased microbial diversity, lower inflammation and an improved immune response. Expert advice thereafter was to aim for six servings of fermented foods a day. Add that to our increased understanding of just how key gut health is to our overall wellbeing, and the result it the (warranted) ACV trend we’re currently seeing.
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Why I like apple cider vinegar
I first began incorporating ACV into my food last year, when I followed an Artah Health food plan. Nutritionist and naturopath Rhian Stephenson incorporates the ingredient a lot in her nutritious recipes—always to tasty effect. While I understood it could help balance blood sugar (which I needed a lot at the time, due to a starchy, sugar-laden diet), I didn’t really understand the power it could have to impact my digestion (including helping to reduce bloating), and hunger levels.
While it’s no wonder ingredient—and definitely won’t make up for a terrible diet—what I’ve found since taking ACV on its own (or in water) each morning is that I get hungry when I’m supposed to (at lunch, and then again at dinner), which results in less snacking. Plus, I no longer get so bloated. My digestive system feels like it’s… digesting well. I also feel more energised. (Admittedly, that last one could be down to the fact that I’m making the effort to take care of myself.)
I prefer to consume my ACV neat, as a shot, but Laubscher recommends you do otherwise. “The only downside of ACV is the potential erosion of tooth enamel,” she says. “That is why mixing with water is key. You can take a shot—1-2 tablespoons in 15-30ml of water—before or after a meal. Do whatever works best for you.” As you’d expect from a vinegar, it’s a tangy and fiery delight for the oesophagus, so I have only been ingesting it alone once a day, first thing, thus far.
Do apple cider vinegar gummies work?
One of the nation’s biggest questions regarding ACV, according to Google? Whether ACV gummy supplements work. Most health experts agree that gummies aren’t the best way to ingest the right nutrients, and ACV is no different. “Gummies won’t absorb well—they aren’t good for your teeth—and neither will hard bullet tablets,” says Laubscher.
If you do want to take an encapsulated supplement, she recommends her Apple Cider Burn capsules, which contain organic fermented ACV, alongside green tea, ginger, cayenne and turmeric to support a healthy metabolism. All you need to do is take one capsule before lunch and dinner, and two before any rich or late meal.
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