Apple cider vinegar has earned a reputation as a panacea, its proponents claim it can help with everything from weight loss to reducing cancer risk, according to research.
It’s affordable and accessible, making it easy for most people to try.
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. The fermentation process converts the sugars in the apples into alcohol, which the bacteria then convert into acetic acid. It is the acetic acid and its nutritional profile that gives this vinegar a reputation as a healthy product. There are some limits to this belief.
Apple cider vinegar also comes with a few health precautions. Apple cider vinegar is not safe for everyone, especially when consumed at full strength.
Best to stick to a 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon serving if you ingest it. And be sure to dilute it first. If you have sensitive skin, you should be careful about applying apple cider vinegar topically, which some people do to take advantage of its potential skin benefits. People with diabetes should also approach apple cider vinegar with caution and refrain from using it as a primary treatment.
If you are in good health and have not had a negative reaction in the past, you may decide to try apple cider vinegar. Be on the lookout for these negative side effects:
1. Increases Risk of Hypoglycemia When Used With Insulin
You’ve probably heard that apple cider vinegar is a boon to the health of people with type 2 diabetes, given that it can help lower blood sugar. Indeed, a 2018 review noted that several small studies suggest that vinegar, including that from fermented apples, may have a place in the treatment of diabetes, pending further studies. For now at least, the effects of vinegar on blood sugar are statistically very small.
People with type 1 diabetes (and people with type 2 diabetes on insulin), on the other hand, would be well advised to approach apple cider vinegar with caution. A small study found that taking vinegar daily decreased gastric emptying rate in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and diabetic gastroparesis. Delayed gastric emptying can make it difficult to control blood sugar, which can lead to more episodes of hypoglycemia. Whatever type of diabetes you have, consult your team
caring if you want to add apple cider vinegar to your diet.
2. Stomach problems, especially for people with gastroparesis
The purported appetite-regulating effect of apple cider vinegar stems from the fact that apple cider vinegar slows down the stomach emptying process. That’s fine if you’re trying to prolong feelings of fullness and eat fewer calories during the day, but not if you have gastroparesis, a condition that occurs when the stomach can’t empty normally. This problem occurs frequently in people who have lived with diabetes for several years. It is especially important for people with diabetes and gastroparesis to regularly monitor their blood sugar when consuming vinegar. This is all the more reason to consult your doctor if you are considering using apple cider vinegar in your diabetes management plan.
3. Esophageal heartburn
Because apple cider vinegar is very acidic, it can lead to throat irritation. In an extreme example, it could even lead to a burn in the esophagus. One study described what happened when an apple cider vinegar tablet got stuck in a woman’s throat for about half an hour: It led to pain, difficulty swallowing, and possibly even be an injury to the esophagus. The study authors concluded that apple cider vinegar may be responsible for acid burns. Although the frequency of these episodes is unclear, many experts still recommend diluting apple cider vinegar in water before drinking it. It is an acid and it can damage the lining of the esophagus if taken directly as an injection.
4. Interactions with other drugs
Taking apple cider vinegar can interfere with certain medications. Specifically, it could affect those taking diuretics, laxatives, and insulin. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before ingesting apple cider vinegar to make sure you don’t have a problem.
5. Decreased Potassium Levels
Consuming large amounts of apple cider vinegar can cause potassium levels to drop, which can cause weakness and fatigue, constipation, muscle cramps, or irregular heartbeat. This is especially concerning for people who are also taking medications that also lower potassium levels, such as diuretics that treat high blood pressure.
6. Tooth erosion
Vinegar is very acidic. It can seriously damage tooth enamel. For this reason, many experts are wary of apple cider vinegar, and even those who believe in it suggest diluting it first and never drinking it straight. A study published in 2014 noted that acidic diets can lead to dental erosion. Eroded tooth enamel can make your teeth more sensitive over time. Again, a diluted form of apple cider vinegar should help. To protect your teeth, rinse your mouth with clean water immediately afterwards.
7. Chemical burn on the skin
Apple cider vinegar is sometimes applied topically to the skin and used as a tonic. Some people use it as a home remedy and credit it with making skin problems like acne and signs of aging go away. Before you consider apple cider vinegar the secret to clear skin, be aware that it does come with a risk of irritation.
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