Despite its recent hype, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is no new kid on the block. ACV has gained widespread popularity for its numerous health benefits, yet many are still confused about how best to use it. Among the numerous benefits this pantry staple provides, it’s been widely touted as an ally in supporting digestion.
ACV 101—what is it?
Any carbohydrate or alcohol can, in theory, become vinegar. ACV is vinegar made from apple cider that has been fermented. This fermentation process naturally produces various strains of probiotics and enzymes.
The process of fermenting apple cider has been around for a very long time: records show humans have been using this process since well before 5000 BC.
When the topic of ACV comes up, the word “mother” is often part of the conversation. In ACV lingo, the mother refers to the unfiltered web of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) created by the fermentation process.
The presence of the mother, when purchasing a bottle of ACV, is usually a good indicator of its quality: it is likely unfiltered and unrefined. This probiotic- and enzyme-rich web is what makes ACV so beneficial. The mother is equivalent to the scoby in the kombucha-making process.
ACV checklist—what to look for
The first thing you want to look for is the mother, recognized as a light cloudy sediment resting at the bottom of the bottle. Other markers of quality include labels identifying the ACV as unfiltered or unrefined and organic.
Inspiration—how to consume this goodness?
The simplest way to incorporate ACV into your diet is to dilute 1 Tbsp (15 mL) in a small glass of water taken before meals. Adding a small amount of raw organic honey enhances the taste and also provides additional minerals and beneficial bacteria.
For something a little different, brew up a batch of fire cider vinegar to add to your water instead. ACV is also a creative replacement for citrus or other types of vinegars in dressings for your favourite salads.
And if you’re someone with sensitive tooth enamel, you may appreciate that ACV is widely available in capsule form as well as gummies.
Did you know?
In addition to being a fantastic digestive aid, ACV has been used traditionally for a number of other ailments. It can help:
- regulate blood sugar levels
- enhance weight loss
- lower cholesterol
- improve skin health
- reduce blood pressure
In Ayurveda, digestion is king and refers to digestive fire as agni. Considering how central digestion and the gut are to overall health, the old saying “you are what you eat” remains incomplete. Rather, you are what you digest!
Irene McGuinness is a passionate food writer, editor, and food stylist living on a small farm outside of Vancouver.
A version of this article was published in the January 2020 issue of alive Canada with the title “Apple cider vinegar for digestion.”