For our bodies to break down food effectively, we need two things: acid and enzymes. Acid specifically stimulates the production of various enzymes, especially digestive enzymes, and this is where the benefits of acetic acid, found in apple cider vinegar, begin.
From a nutritional point of view, apple cider vinegar and others contain minimal amounts of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. What vinegar does contain is antioxidants and beneficial bacteria, which is where the list of wonderful benefits advertised in the health media comes from.
Apple cider vinegar can be beneficial, not so much as a nutrient, but as an auxiliary for certain bodily requirements, such as digestion, protein breakdown, mineral absorption and much more.
Today I will show you why the human digestive tract needs to be an acidic environment, in which situations apple cider vinegar can influence very positively the body and its important benefits for the overall health.
The pH in the human body
The human body has and needs different pH in different parts of the body. For example, the blood must maintain an alkaline pH, the skin must maintain a more or less acidic pH, while the stomach must be very acidic. The strongest acid in the human body is the hydrochloric acid found in the stomach and it is important to keep it that way.
For example, in the mouth we have a neutral pH, i.e., pH 7 approximately, whereas apple cider vinegar has a pH of about 3.5, i.e., it is about 5000 times more acidic than saliva and water. This is in a logarithmic scale.
The human digestive tract, to break down protein, needs its hydrochloric acid to be maintained between pH 1.35-3, i.e., 50,000 times more acidic than water and 10 times more acidic than apple cider vinegar.
Situations in Which Apple Cider Vinegar can Positively Influence your Body
The digestive tract is balanced if it maintains a pH between 1.35 and 3, the problem is that most people are NOT within this optimal range of acidity or are producing insufficient hydrochloric acid. Factors that interfere with proper production of hydrochloric acid in the body may be,
- Everything to do with the digestive process such as acid production, enzyme production, food breakdown is cancelled or drastically reduced when under stress.
- By consuming too much protein. The more protein you consume, the more hydrochloric acid your body must produce.
- Deficiency of vitamins B1 or minerals such as Zinc which are necessary to produce hydrochloric acid.
- Alcohol consumption interferes with the production of hydrochloric acid.
- Consumption of antacids. The acid in the stomach is necessary for digestion and if we give antacids we will interfere with the normal and proper functioning of the stomach. The consequences of taking antacids can be leaky gut, allergies, dysbiosis, inflamed stomach and more.
- The pituitary gland stimulates the thyroid and when the thyroid slows down (hypothyroidism), everything in the body slows down, including hydrochloric acid production.
- Bariatric surgery. An alternative to treat morbid obesity in people, i.e. diet and exercise no longer work and the person has health problems due to their weight. In this case, the ability to produce hydrochloric acid has been lost, almost entirely.
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO),
- Irritable bowel syndrome,
- Food intolerances
- Hiatal hernias
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux. If there is enough hydrochloric acid in your stomach, it will work to break down the protein for about an hour in the stomach and the acidity will close the oesophageal valve or internal oesophageal sphincter. If there is not enough acid, the valve does not close properly, the food stays there for too long, churning, bubbling, gassing and sometimes even fermenting. The acid-impregnated bubbles and gases back up into the oesophagus and that is what causes the burning sensation because the acid is getting to places it shouldn't be.
All people with the above conditions can make use of apple cider vinegar to help improve the hydrochloric acid function in the body.
Benefits attributed to apple cider vinegar
- We have already mentioned that it is an adjuvant in digestion starting with the production of hydrochloric acid to break down food once it reaches the stomach. In this way, it can better break down protein into amino acids and activate the corresponding enzymes to maintain the proper pH during these processes.
- Improved mineral absorption, as an acidic environment is needed for this to take place properly.
- Supports the immune system by eliminating pathogens. Bacteria are everywhere, whether in the environment or in food and our first line of defence is to have enough acid. Interestingly, bacteria don't do very well in acidic environments. Vinegar, in general, including apple cider vinegar, is a natural bactericide. (study).
- Improves insulin sensitivity and, consequently, facilitates weight and fat loss. As scitechdaily magazine rightly points out,
"Studies show that apple cider vinegar modestly reduces the glucose spike that occurs after eating a meal. With apple cider vinegar on board, your glucose doesn't rise as high after a meal, and your body doesn't need to produce as much insulin.
When there is less insulin, the body can more easily break down fat and is less likely to store it, which would lead to weight gain. Another way to look at it is that apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivity, which is good for your waistline and metabolic health. When you have better insulin sensitivity, you're less likely to accumulate deep belly fat, called visceral fat."
- It would help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A meta-analysis published by the National Library of Medicine in the United States indicated a significant reduction in Serum Total Cholesterol and Triglycerides (TG) in a subgroup of patients with type 2 diabetes, those who took ≤15 mL/day of Apple Cider Vinegar, and those who consumed Apple Cider Vinegar for > 8 weeks, respectively. In addition, apple cider vinegar consumption significantly decreased GPA levels in the study subgroup administered apple cider vinegar for > 8 weeks. In addition, apple cider vinegar intake appeared to cause an increase in fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and HDL-C (good cholesterol) concentrations in apparently healthy participants.
People taking medication for high blood pressure or blood sugar medication, consult your doctor before incorporating apple cider vinegar into your routine.
People with gastroparesis, a condition affecting motility in the stomach that slows stomach emptying, consult your doctor before starting to consume apple cider vinegar.
If you are going to consume apple cider vinegar, please observe the following guidelines:
- You can take 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar dissolved in water or an aromatic (it is imperative that it is dissolved in a liquid because acid taken directly corrodes tooth enamel and irritates the esophagus ).
- Another option is to take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with lemon juice (60 ml), and this dissolved in half a litre of water in the morning or evening but ideally on an empty stomach.
Which apple cider vinegar to consume?
Try to get raw apple cider vinegar, i.e. unpasteurised, from organic apples, unfiltered and with the mother (strands of proteins, enzymes and bacteria that give it the cloudy appearance at the bottom of the vinegar).
The stomach should maintain an acidic pH while the blood should maintain an alkaline pH. To help maintain stomach acidity, apple cider vinegar is a positive addition to your daily nutrition. Consuming up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day, dissolved in up to a litre of water, can help you become more insulin sensitive, balance triglycerides and high cholesterol; as well as fight pathogens in your digestive system.