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Apple Cider Vinegar for Gut Health: Benefits of This Prebiotic

An image of a boy hoisting a green apple

The gut lies in the center of your body and is also the center of microbiological activity. It makes sense to optimize the inner workings of your stomach. Once your guts are running healthily and happily, you can expect other parts — from your brain to your metabolism — to follow suit.

Fact: There are over 7,500 varieties of apples.

There is no single key to a healthy gut. You have to start somewhere, and a good starting point is adding apple cider vinegar to your daily diet. Give this a try for 30 days, and you just might be surprised at how much healthier you feel.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Is apple cider vinegar interchangeable from the Treetop or Mott’s Apple Juice you see in store shelves? Apple cider vinegar and apple juice are only similar in that they’re both made from apples. Apple juice is just that – juice from apples. It may have additional fillers, such as ascorbic acid, food coloring, or a blend of other juice concentrates or puree. Sure, apple juice is tasty. But it contains nowhere near the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

Pro tip: The only similarity between apple cider vinegar and apple cider is that both are made from apples.

Apple cider vinegar is derived from a much more complex process. The apples are crushed and exposed to bacterial yeast, which ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol. Additional bacteria are added, furthering the fermentation process and converting the alcohol into acetic acid.

The finished product is rich in enzymes and good bacteria that gives the vinegar a foamy, murky and almost goo-like appearance. Some people refer to the collective enzymes and bacteria as the “Mother.” The Mother is also what gives vinegar its sour and tangy texture.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Now that you know what apple cider vinegar is, it’s time to understand why it plays such a vital role in human health. Why is this age-old beverage so relevant that you can find it on the shelves of nearly every health-food store? What are some apple cider vinegar uses that make the drink a natural elixir?

1. Acetic Acid Lowers Blood Sugar

In one study cited in Reader’s Digest, subjects consumed a high-sugar breakfast. As expected, their blood sugar levels jumped the next hour. However, subjects that also consumed apple cider vinegar saw their blood sugar levels drop by 50 percent.

How does acetic acid do this? Scientists believe the compound interferes with the digestive enzymes in the guts that break apart the chemical bonds of sugar and starches. This prolongs the time it takes the body to break down the meal into blood sugar, thus preventing a sugar rush. Too much sugar in a single meal can eventually lead to insulin resistance. While diabetes may be associated with the heart and blood, the issue, as you can see, originates in the guts.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar Reduces Body Fat

Laboratory rats fed apple cider vinegar saw less body fat accumulation when fed a calorie-rich diet. If you’re skeptical of animal studies, a separate study with human subjects1 showed that participants saw a reduction in body fat when given a daily apple cider vinegar drink over a 12-week period.

Here is an even more important finding: Subjects also saw fat reduction around the liver. This is very important to point out. The liver is responsible for producing digestive enzymes and bile acids. A poor lifestyle can lead to a buildup of fat and endotoxins around the liver, bogging it down and inhibiting optimal function. Consuming more acetic acid for liver health and metabolism will improve function in this area. Apple cider vinegar, in fact, has long been touted as a natural liver detox remedy.

An image of two girls picking apples

3. Apple Cider Vinegar Aids in Digestion

Apple cider vinegar also contains the right acidity to help with digestion and break down foods to smaller and more digestible micronutrients.

As mentioned, cider vinegar is also a natural liver cleanser. A healthy liver ensures supple production of enzymes needed for digestion. When the body lacks digestive enzymes, undigested foods are left to ferment inside the gut. Not only does the body not absorb the nutrients, but the food is left to rot, leading to endotoxins. Rotting food in the guts also leads to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar is a Prebiotic

In case you glossed it over, apple cider is a prebiotic, not a probiotic. The latter term is so much more common. As you may know, probiotics are good bacteria and found in foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. They’re also readily found in various dietary supplements.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, is a type of carbohydrates that the human body does not digest. Rather, it serves as food for probiotics. This keeps the probiotics alive and functioning to regulate gut health and fight off bad bacteria and free radicals. It goes without saying that prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically to improve diversity of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal system.

There are just as many studies on prebiotics as there are on probiotics. The former has been shown, for instance, to improve sleep and reduce stress2.

Apple cider vinegar is a rich source of prebiotics, as are foods like bananas, asparagus and artichokes.

An image of several varieties of apples

How to Choose an Apple Cider Vinegar Product

With the health benefits of apple cider vinegar established, it’s time to walk the walk and actually make this drink a part of your daily living. So, how should you go about it? Approach this decision similarly to how you would pick out an apple juice product? Hopefully, you gravitate towards a 100 percent juice variety with zero fillers instead of the ones with added artificial preservatives and only a shameful 10 percent juice.

The same goes for apple cider vinegar. Look for these characteristics if buying from the store:

  • The product is made from organic and raw apples. Additional ingredients do not make for a better product.
  • The juice appears murky and clouded. This is a strong sign that it contains heavy traces of the Mother.
  • Avoid pasteurized cider vinegar. Pasteurization is a heating process that kills much of the good bacteria.

Apple Cider Vinegar for a Better Gut Health and Better Body

The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are well documented and not based on pseudoscience. Adding this drink to your meals will improve gut health. Better gut health translates to an overall better sphere of health. This means your metabolism, brain, hormones and heart will all indirectly benefit as a result.

Please check out ACV + Prebiotics, UMZU’s own prebiotic supplement.

Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Ugajin S, Kaga T. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009;73(8):1837-1843. [PubMed]
Thompson R, Roller R, Mika A, et al. Dietary Prebiotics and Bioactive Milk Fractions Improve NREM Sleep, Enhance REM Sleep Rebound and Attenuate the Stress-Induced Decrease in Diurnal Temperature and Gut Microbial Alpha Diversity. Front Behav Neurosci. 2017;10:240. [PMC]

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Ryan Tronier

Ryan Tronier is a writer and editor who has worked with NBC, ABC, and USA Today.
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