Does apple cider vinegar help with bloating and digestion?
A lot of blogs out there dismiss the potential uses of apple cider vinegar out of hand stating that “there’s not enough evidence.” But, is that true?
When taking a deep dive into the research, I actually found a fairly decent amount of evidence to support the benefits of apple cider vinegar.
I will review that evidence with you here.
Table of Contents
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Bloating?
Yes in some cases.
Remember, apple cider vinegar has been a part of healthy diets for thousands of years. It has traditional uses that demonstrate it works for reducing stomach bloating.
Now we also have research that confirms how it may work to reduce bloating.
But, bloating is a catch-all term for feeling indigestion and gas after a meal.
Remember, bloating can be caused by the food choices you make or a lack of proper digestion. It can also be due to extra fluid accumulation in the gut.
Research shows that the acetic acid from vinegar helps to properly absorb water and electrolytes in the gut. So, in this regard, apple cider vinegar definitely may help with bloating.
As a self-experiment, I sipped some diluted apple cider vinegar when I was bloated after a meal. After about 15 minutes, I did indeed feel less bloating and indigestion.
Keep in mind that everyone is different.
Improves Digestion to Help Reduce Bloating
The other way that apple cider vinegar can help reduce bloating is because vinegar has a low pH. This means it is acidic. Because of this, it makes the stomach more acidic.
It is not uncommon for people to suffer from low stomach acid, which is a root cause of bloating.
Apple cider vinegar, therefore, can help your body break down nutrients because of its acidity. It helps the body digest proteins better and absorb vitamins, calcium, and iron more effectively.
This is because proper digestion requires a low pH in the stomach to improve nutrient absorption. In this respect, apple cider vinegar can reduce bloating by supporting proper digestion.
It is ridiculous to think that apple cider vinegar is going to help everyone. Simply trying it to see if it helps bloating is the best approach.
However, if you are using it to reduce bloating, I suggest that you try taking it with your meal to prevent any feelings of excess acidity in the stomach. After all, mealtime is what stimulates stomach acid, so it makes sense that taking vinegar with meals is the healthiest time to take it.
Overall, apple cider vinegar helps with bloating for these reasons:
- Improves water and electrolyte absorption
- May improve protein and vitamin absorption
- Probiotics in apple cider vinegar help improve digestion
- Postbiotics from vinegar aid with fueling the gut
- Fights harmful gut bugs
Let’s get into how this all works.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Digestion?
New research suggests that vinegar as balsamic vinegar has a very interesting effect on digestion. It appears to slow the emptying of the stomach. In other words, it delays gastric emptying and delays the release of digestive enzymes at mealtime. This study was recently published in Foods Journal.
By doing so, vinegar may allow the body more time to properly digest foods that are otherwise more difficult to digest.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
At the root of irritable bowel syndrome can be multiple issues. People with IBS often have slow gut movements, imbalances in immunity, nutrient deficiencies, and altered gut bacteria.
Because of this, apple cider vinegar may help reduce IBS symptoms based on its attributes.
One major benefit of apple cider vinegar for people suffering from IBS is that it contains antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.
Because of this vinegar may help to improve the feelings of digestion. In fact, it has these immune-enhancing benefits at very low concentrations. So you can dilute apple cider vinegar with a lot of water and still get its benefits.
This type of vinegar has healthy probiotics and short-chain fatty acids. These healthy compounds help with many aspects of digestive function, including
- Improvements in gut muscle movements
- Immune benefits
- Nutrient absorption
- Rebalancing of healthy gut bacteria
In these ways, apple cider vinegar definitely may help people who are struggling with irritable bowel syndrome.
Another way that you may be able to reduce your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms is by using digestive enzyme supplements.
What About Apple Cider Vinegar for Heartburn?
In the case of heartburn and acid reflux, there can be two very different causes.
One cause of “reflux” can actually be low stomach acid while in other people high acid levels can be the cause.
Stomach acid production can also be impaired by eating a lot of junk food and processed foods.
These processed foods also alter gut muscle movements.
On the other hand, apple cider vinegar improves gut muscle movements in the small intestine, allowing for improved digestive function.
Depending on the issue that you have, apple cider vinegar either will make your heartburn feel better or worse. Let’s find out why.
Stomach Acid: Low or High?
Sadly these days, the assessment of acid reflux at doctor’s offices doesn’t often include an esophageal pH test which either confirms or denies the presence of too much acid.
So people often get thrown on acid-blocking medications without adequate knowledge of their stomach acidity.
If this is the case for you, there is a simple test you can do at home called the baking soda test.
Baking soda test
How to do the baking soda test:
- First thing in the morning before food, drinking, or brushing:
- Mix ¼ tsp of baking soda into 4 oz of warm water. Drink this mixture and immediately set a timer to see how long it takes you to burp.
- You should burp fairly quickly afterward if your stomach is making enough acid.
- If it takes you more than 3-5 minutes to burp, you are likely not making enough stomach acid. This means that apple cider vinegar is most likely going to help your digestion.
- You should only do this test occasionally because it isn’t healthy to eat large amounts of baking soda.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Heartburn
Before you drink apple cider vinegar in your water, I recommend adding it to food. You can try adding apple cider vinegar to salad dressings or to entrees first to see how your belly feels.
Another strategy is to add 1 tablespoon to 8 ounces of warm water and sip it with a straw at mealtime.
The best way to see if apple cider vinegar helps your heartburn is to simply try it for a day or so. If you feel better, the odds are, that it’s working for you. If you feel worse, you probably should avoid apple cider vinegar.
However, if you have a known condition of severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or Barrett’s esophagus, you should not try apple cider vinegar unless under medical supervision.
Another simple way to help many people with heartburn safely is to use digestive enzymes.
Apple Cider Vinegar Has Healthy Probiotics
One of the undisputed health benefits of apple cider vinegar with the mother is that it contains natural probiotics. This is because of its natural fermentation process.
Apple cider vinegar contains special acetic acid bacteria of the Acetobacter and Komagataeibacter with the Komagataeibacter genera.
Luckily for us, it also has the lactic acid bacteria called Lactobacillus which has multiple health benefits.
Not only does apple cider vinegar have these healthy bacteria, but it also improves the gut microbiome. It may do so by increasing healthy bacteria genera like Coprococcus.
This bacteria helps increase vitamin production in the body and increase short-chain fatty acids that play a role in decreasing belly fat.
The acetic acid bacteria produced in apple cider vinegar may also help reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer.
People eating probiotic foods regularly have better immunity and reduced cancer risk.
Vinegar may also support healthy kidneys by reducing oxalate levels.
Apple Cider Vinegar Has Healthy Postbiotics
Apple cider vinegar’s acetic acid is a type of postbiotic too.
Postbiotics like acetic acid and butyrate are great for digestion. Acetic acid in particular helps to break down protein.
These postbiotics also have benefits beyond the digestive tract.
For example, acetic acid crosses the blood-brain barrier where it serves as a source of energy. Early research also suggests that acetic acid protects nerve cells and reduces neuro-inflammation.
Reduces Muscle Cramps
Research also suggests that apple cider vinegar can reduce muscle cramps because it contains acetic acid. Acetic acid may reduce cramping.
It does so by decreasing alpha motor neuron activity which ultimately decreases cramping.
While the scientific evidence is still scant, many people find that it’s a safe way to ease the suffering of cramping from exercise.
Apple Cider Vinegar May Help With Weight Loss
Of the most popular uses for apple cider vinegar is its reported benefits for aiding in weight management.
Using apple cider vinegar reduces appetite by increasing the release of gut hormones that help regulate appetite, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY. It may reduce abdominal fat as well according to some research.
In fact, there are thousands of reviews of people who use apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Many people claim that it helps them lose weight.
However, A systematic review of 16 research studies concluded that apple cider vinegar reduces blood triglycerides, and lowers blood sugar levels but failed to see differences in body weight.
Apple Cider Vinegar May Slow Aging
Early research suggests that apple cider vinegar may delay signs of aging. It may do so by decreasing age-related changes in muscle by increasing mitochondrial DNA and increasing anti-aging gene expression.
More research is needed to confirm these results in humans.
Is it Safe to Use Apple Cider Vinegar?
A review of over 16 clinical studies concluded that apple cider vinegar is well tolerated. However, if you have a diagnosis of GERD, you should check with your healthcare provider before trying apple cider vinegar.
If you experience any negative side effects when consuming apple cider vinegar you should not use it.
Additionally, if you have difficulty swallowing pills, you should avoid taking apple cider vinegar capsules.
If you do use apple cider vinegar, you must dilute it with food or a good amount of water because of its strong acidity.
Best Way to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
A good apple cider vinegar should contain the “mother.” On the label, your apple cider vinegar should clearly state “with the mother” if you want it to have a probiotic effect.
I suggest applying apple cider vinegar to food or adding it to recipes to minimize any side effects. Always choose apple cider vinegar with the mother to get the most benefits.
A popular way that people use vinegar is to have it as a drink by diluting it with 10 parts warm water to 1 part vinegar.
Drink it with a straw to avoid tooth enamel erosion.
You can also buy apple cider vinegar tablets, but make sure you buy ones that contain the mother. A common dose is 3 capsules per day. Make sure to drink it with plenty of water so that it doesn’t stick in your throat.
To get the most benefits, it is best to use apple cider vinegar with the mother daily.
If you are trying to use it to reduce blood sugar, research suggests that bedtime might be the best time to take it.
When should I drink apple cider vinegar for bloating?
You should drink diluted apple cider vinegar whenever you feel bloated or during mealtimes to reduce the feelings of bloat.
Does apple cider vinegar cause gas and bloating?
Not typically, but if it does, you should not use it or you should use smaller portions of it.
Does apple cider vinegar heal your gut?
No single food can exclusively heal your gut, but apple cider vinegar contains a lot of gut-healthy compounds that can support the healing process. This includes probiotics, short-chain fatty acids, and acetic acid.