Can apple cider vinegar improve digestion?
When researching natural remedies for digestive problems, there’s one that comes up again and again: apple cider vinegar. I remember being pumped to try it a couple of years ago after reading about its stomach-relieving properties. Then I opened a bottle and the pungent “feet” smell hit me. Needless to say, my motivation went away.
This scenario played out a few more times until I finally got used to taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day. And my conclusion is that once you get over the taste (diluting it in water makes a big difference), it really can help your digestive system run more smoothly.
What does apple cider vinegar do for your gut? It can help stimulate hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach, which is responsible for breaking down foods. If you don’t produce enough HCl, you can be classified as having an “underactive stomach” (something holistic nutritionist Peggy Kostopoulos covers in her recent book). Symptoms of an underactive stomach – also called hypochlorhydria – can include excessive gas and belching after meals, as well as an “over full” feeling, abdominal pain and cramping.
I recently read an article where Chinese medicine guru and author Dr. Mao was talking about how apple cider vinegar can balance the digestive system. Here’s his take:
“Traditionally apple cider vinegar is used to remedy digestive distress, aid in detoxification, and to reduce intestinal bloating. Mix one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 12 ounces of warm water and drink it in the morning on an empty stomach. The acetic and butyric acids promote gastrointestinal health by balancing your pH and encouraging friendly bifido bacterial growth.”
I like the image of my stomach pumping out more acid to help me process my food better…don’t you? And compared to buying digestive enzymes, which are also used to promote HCl production, apple cider vinegar is a significantly cheaper option. That said, if buying it for a stomach remedy, stick to organic kinds that include the “mother” (the “mother” being the starter bacterial culture used to make vinegar). One such kind is Bragg, which you can find at most health food stores.
And, oh yes…back to the taste. It may take some getting used to, but if you need help getting it down, Dr. Mao recommends adding a little honey, maple syrup or lemon water to take the edge off. I should also mention ACV is great in salad dressings mixed with olive or flax oil.
Have you tried taking apple cider vinegar as a digestive aid? Do you stick with the tablespoon-a-day dosage? I’d love to hear more on this topic!