Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is the magical elixir everyone is talking about. Dr. Oz and Oprah claim it helps shed pounds. Your trainer swears a shot will help burn fat. And the end aisles at the grocery store display apple cider vinegar on sale at the turn of the new year — touting metabolic-boosting benefits of ACV to resolutioners.
Despite the hype, though, apple cider vinegar is nothing new.
Dating back to 5,000 B.C. when ancient Babylonians used it as a pickling agent for fermented foods, apple cider vinegar has since been used as the “cure-all” agent of health remedy.
Hippocrates prescribed it to boost immunity and prevent illness. American soldiers used it to remedy indigestion, pneumonia and scurvy. Come the 19th century, Lord Byron popularized dieting as we know it today with his strict, low-fat diet, consisting of biscuits, soda water and potatoes drenched in apple cider vinegar.
So, should you drink apple cider vinegar? And what really makes ACV so “magical” anyway?
Answer: It’s not what you think.
Ask most anyone on the street why apple cider vinegar is good for you, and chances are they will tell you they heard it “boosts metabolism.”
Despite this trendy benefit, the metabolic boost is actually just a side effect of what ACV really does.
In order to understand why apple cider vinegar is the health and healing agent that it is, you must first understand what it is made of: apple cider vinegar is made from the vinegar that is a byproduct of the fermentation of apple cider. During the process, apple cider is broken down into alcohol and vinegar. The vinegar contains acetic acid, some lactic acid and citric acid.
Do you sense the theme?
Apple cider vinegar is a highly acidic substance that while safe to consume goes beyond being “just a food” or drink to sip.
The acidity of apple cider vinegar is where the magic lies. It boils down to helping your body (and stomach) boost stomach acid naturally — a requirement for impeccable digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function and your metabolism (the efficiency at which your body digests and uses your nutrients).
In short: apple cider vinegar does a body (and metabolism) good because it boosts stomach acid and digestion — not because it directly spikes your metabolism.
Your gut is the gateway to your health.
Every single cell, organ and function in your body is affected by your nutrient consumption and absorption (or malabsorption) through your digestive system.
If you are not eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods or not absorbing the foods you are eating optimally, then guess what takes a hit?
Every single cell, organ and function in your body.
From autoimmune conditions and poor immunity, to low energy levels, skin breakouts, anxiety, ADHD, high blood pressure, cardiovascular risk, poor workout recovery and performance and a sluggish metabolism, the majority of all health imbalances point back to your gut.
Since 90 percent of your serotonin (“feel-good” brain chemical), 80 percent of your immune system (responsible for skin health, allergic tension, autoimmunity and inflammation), 31 hormones and more than 100 million brain neurons are produced in your gut, the gut is highly responsible for your health in all areas.
In short: An undernourished body (i.e. dysfunctional or imbalanced gut) is the foundation of ALL imbalance.
How does your gut become imbalanced anyway?
Oftentimes, it starts with low stomach acid.
Low stomach acid is a condition that affects more than 60 percent of all Americans — many of whom are on PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) and pop antiacids incessantly for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), heartburn and inflammation.
Most people think such conditions are caused by too much stomach acid, but, in actuality, it is too little stomach acid.
In fact, in an editorial on the treatment of GERD in the Journal of Gastroenterology, the authors claim treating GERD with profound acid inhibition (PPI drugs) will never be ideal because excess acid production is not the primary underlying defect.
Instead, low stomach acid leads to bacterial overgrowth, which in turn causes production of gases that put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and cause it to open inappropriately, which then allows acid from the stomach to reflux into the esophagus.
Even if you don’t have GERD, stomach acid is essential for the digestion of food. When we do not have enough, digestion stalls causing side effects including indigestion, stomach pains, constipation and bloating. Other common signs of low stomach acid (not always associated with digestion) include skin breakouts, mood imbalances, adrenal fatigue, seasonal allergies, the common cold, thyroid imbalances, nutrient deficiencies and slow metabolism.
Enter: apple cider vinegar — a natural stomach acid booster.
The real reason apple cider vinegar is good for you?
It boosts digestion, and healthy digestion (full breakdown of the nutrients in your food) does a body good — metabolism included.
Simply pour one tablespoon of ACV in a glass of two to four ounces of water and take a swig (preferably before meals, and/or first thing in the morning).
Can’t stand the tartness?
Some folks find a teaspoon of raw honey helps the medicine go down, or, if you’re up for a real kick in a glass, try my classic Fire Cider recipe. Fire Cider is a homemade tonic that provides immune and gut support. It’s a great addition to the winter months when many of us could use a boost. Here’s how to make your own:
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
3–4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2–3 inch piece ginger root, peeled and chopped
1–2 inches horseradish, grated
1 tablespoon turmeric, ground
1 small lemon, sliced
1/4 orange, sliced
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Sprig of rosemary
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Place herbs in a two or three canning jars and fill with enough raw organic apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs by at least three to four inches.
Seal with a tight-fitting lid.
Place jar in a warm place and let it sit for three to four weeks, shaking it daily if you can remember to help the maceration process
After three to four weeks, strain out the herbs and reserve the liquid.
Add raw honey to taste, if you prefer. Warm the honey first so it mixes well.
Re-bottle and enjoy!
Fire Cider will keep for several months if stored in a cool pantry or fridge.