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Debunking myths around apple cider vinegar


Apple cider has become increasingly lauded among the wellness brigade for a number of benefits - everything from increasing energy, to weight loss and digestion. It should be noted, however, that many of the claims lack concrete evidence. Here, nutritional therapist Emma Bardwell, takes a closer look. 

Claim: Good for gut flora (microbiome)

Fact: Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains enzymes and probiotics, much like other raw fermented liquids such as kombucha. Probiotics aid digestion, yet those benefits only are gained if you ingest the raw variety, because pasteurisation kills probiotic strains. You’ll know  raw when you see cobweb like strands of the ‘mother’ floating in your bottle. So yes, adding raw apple cider vinegar may help with your gut flora.

Claim: Detoxes the body 

Fact: All you need to ‘detox’ is a healthy liver and set of kidneys. While we know that compounds such as glucosinolates (found in cruciferous vegetables) can support Phase II liver detoxification, there is no current evidence that apple cider vinegar removes toxins from the body.

Claim: Weight loss

Fact: Some rodent studies show that the acetic acid in vinegar increases fatty acid oxidation and prevents fat accumulation. In a 2005 human study (Johnston and Buller), consuming vinegar with a high GL meal showed a reduction in calorie intake by 200 calories throughout the rest of the day. However, this appetite suppressing effect may be due to the nausea of drinking vinegar rather than increased satiety!

Claim: Makes the body more alkaline

Fact: The body’s pH is very tightly controlled by the kidneys. Variations would mean severe illness and possibly death, so there is no evidence backing food’s ability to change your blood alkalinity. The alkaline diet is one of the biggest nutrition myths out there.

Take home message: if you enjoy the taste of apple cider vinegar by all means add it to dressings and sauces but there’s currently no overwhelming evidence that ingesting it in large quantities has any health benefits. It’s also worth noting it is highly acidic so prolonged exposure can erode tooth enamel.

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