What do you do when you’re feeling bloated or experiencing rough stools? Do you pop a Tums tablet in your mouth? Do you opt for a name-brand laxative?
The key to better digestive support doesn’t require any synthetic formulas. Most foods in their pure unadulterated form provide near-instant relief. One such food — or drink rather — is apple cider vinegar (ACV). Apple cider vinegar for stomach relief is actually an old folk remedy. Modern science, though, supports use of this old-time beverage for its medicinal qualities.
Why Apple Cider Vinegar?
People have been taking apple cider vinegar for bloating for thousands of years. Its use predates written history. An ancient jar used for storing vinegar was found in Egypt and dates to around 8,000 B.C. Other evidence suggests the Babylonians were mass-producing fruit cider vinegar as early as 5,000 B.C. Records hint at the Egyptians using the vinegar as an antiseptic.
Anthropologists believe apple cider vinegar was used by the Egyptians as far back as 8,000 B.C. The tonic is made from aged crushed apples that undergo an extensive fermentation process. The finished product is vinegar with a yellowish and murky appearance. This differs significantly from conventional clear vinegar. The former is rich in a sleuth of beneficial enzymes, prebiotics and friendly microflora.
The concoction is known for alleviating a number of ailments, ranging from hypertension reduction to acne removal.
(To learn more about all the scientifically-proven medicinal properties, see our past post on apple cider vinegar benefits.)
Apple cider vinegar for digestion, though, is one of the better-known uses.
The Inner Workings of the Stomach
Low stomach acid is the root cause of indigestion. Without ample acid production, food fails to completely break down into usable micro and macronutrients. As a result, partially digested food sits in your stomach for prolonged periods, leading to the usual symptoms of gas, bloating and rough bowel movements.
The body may experience one of two issues with stomach acid (also known as hydrochloric acid, or HCI). It either does not produce enough, or the acidity level isn’t high enough. In other words, the pH levels may be off.
HCI also helps break down protein into amino acids by converting the proenzyme pepsinogen into the enzyme pepsin. HCI is also crucial in aiding the liver in its production of bile, which in turn helps the body absorb carbs, fat and vitamins.
READ MORE: 8 Natural Colon Cleanse Recipe Ideas
Multiple factors, such as vitamin and mineral deficiency, stress and alcohol consumption can inhibit HCI production. If you tend to wolf down your meals without doing a whole lot of chewing, then you also make it difficult for your stomach to do its job.
Pro tip: If you regularly experience acid reflux, you likely have issues with stomach acid production. This is where taking apple cider vinegar for bloating enters the picture.
The Role of Apple Cider Vinegar
So how does apple cider vinegar factor into all of this? Why have people for generations been taking apple cider vinegar for digestive issues? Simply put, the tonic helps restore the pH level in your stomach.
In addition, apple cider vinegar may help through a process known as gastric emptying. For optimal digestion, food must remain in the stomach long enough for breakdown to occur before the contents can move into the small intestines. Indigestion occurs when food moves into the small intestine too quickly and before the stomach has had ample time to do its work.
Apple cider vinegar for digestion works because the enzymes in the drink delay gastric emptying. This keeps the food in the stomach longer, giving it more time to break down the macronutrients.
That’s not all; apple cider vinegar may also prevent the onset of ulcerative colitis, or the inflammation of the large intestinal lining. One study showed that vinegar and acetic acid were effective in reducing the proteins that induce inflammation. ACV is very high in acetic acid.
Some people also take apple cider vinegar for gas. Having gas is usually accompanied by bloating and diarrhea. The acetic acid in ACV has powerful antimicrobial effects and may kill food-borne pathogens responsible for diarrhea. Research also shows acetic acid may be effective in preventing bacterial food poisoning.
Finally, apple cider vinegar is made from whole apples, including the fruit’s skin. The skin is rich in the fiber pectin. Studies show pectin is effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Digestion: The Science Backs It Up
As you can see, there are multiple studies that validate the efficacy of apple cider vinegar for stomach relief. If your stomach disagrees with your favorite foods, then we definitely recommend a delicious helping of ACV. If you don’t particularly like apples or cider, then we suggest getting your intake in pill form.
Our latest product, ACV + Prebiotics, contains the same prebiotic and enzyme profile for alleviating gas and constipation. Check it out and see for yourself its powerful effects as a digestive support.