When you think of vinegar, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the clear, pungent liquid that is often used for cleaning, disinfecting and even as part of your daily beauty regimen. However, there is a specific type of vinegar that has especially impressive benefits for your health, your appearance and even for your pets that may surprise you. Apple cider vinegar, also known as cider vinegar or ACV, has been used for centuries to relieve everything from stubborn stains to the common cold and is still a go-to remedy recommended by many health professionals today. It is made from the liquid of crushed apples that is combined with bacteria and yeast and allowed to ferment to the point where the sugars are turned into alcohol. The alcohol that results is then converted into vinegar through acetic acid-forming bacteria known as acetobacter, creating a unique liquid that serves a number of invaluable purposes.
Historically, apple cider vinegar was used to flavor and preserve food, boost immunity and dress wounds. Today, it is utilized for these, as well as a wide range of other applications, due to the research-backed indications that prove it to be a highly beneficial liquid.
Benefits for the Body
ACV is commonly available in most supermarkets and natural food stores in an assortment of forms. Whether consumed in its raw, unfiltered form, as a tonic or mixed with a beverage, apple cider vinegar has numerous benefits for the body that support long-lasting health.
- Detoxifies and Builds Immunity: Apple cider vinegar is packed with probiotics, good bacteria and acetic acid, which all help to cleanse your body, balance blood sugar, improve digestion, boost energy, and strengthen the immune system.
- Alleviates Allergies: Because apple cider vinegar is made from the highly nutritious apple fruit, it contains a number of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B6, and C, biotin, folic acid, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. These nutrients boost immunity and balance your body’s natural pH levels to help prevent illnesses, allergies, and other seasonal ailments.
- Cures Candida: Those who suffer from an overgrowth of yeast in the body can experience such symptoms as exhaustion, brain fog, joint pain, digestive issues, and urinary tract infections (UTIs), among other conditions. The high content of natural enzymes in apple cider vinegar helps to improve digestion and restore the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the gut, which reduces the overgrowth of candida in the body.
- Relieves Heartburn: Every time you eat or drink, your stomach combines the food, acids, and enzymes together to begin the digestion process. Certain protective cells within the stomach prevent the acid from causing inflammation, but these cells do not exist in the esophagus. If stomach acid and digestive juices reflux back into the esophagus, this can cause uncomfortable heartburn. Drinking ACV helps to lower the stomach acidity and increase its pH levels because the acetic acid found in the drink is weaker than the hydrochloric acid created during digestion. Thus, your stomach enjoys a milder acidic environment in which it can still digest food, but with less strain on the esophagus and, therefore, less heartburn.
- Improves Digestion: While an improper balance of stomach acid and the reflux of acid back into the esophagus can cause pain, discomfort, and heartburn, the stomach needs a certain amount of acid in order to aid digestion. When you eat, your stomach cells secrete hydrochloric acid (HCL), which helps to break down proteins and stimulate the absorption of carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. ACV improves digestion by increasing HCL production in the body to maintain balance and comfort throughout the process.
- Reduces Muscle Fatigue: Whether you’ve recently finished a tough workout or just have tight and tired muscles from strenuous or monotonous activities, apple cider vinegar is a safe and healthy remedy that can provide relief. Due to the content of amino acids, raw enzymes, and potassium in ACV, drinking just two teaspoons can help to beat muscle fatigue, reduce inflammation and flush out built-up lactic acid.
- Promotes Bladder Health: If E. coli bacteria from your colon enter the urinary tract, it results in a urinary tract infection, which can cause odorous or discolored urine, a burning sensation when you urinate, the frequent need to urinate or pain in the abdomen. Apple cider vinegar is a commonly used remedy for UTIs, as the potassium in the liquid hinders the growth of the UTI-causing bacteria, while its acetic acid content kills bad bacteria and supports the growth of good bacteria.
Benefits for Your Appearance
In addition to serving numerous benefits for your internal systems, apple cider vinegar is also extremely useful for your outward appearance in a number of ways.
- Improves the Health of Your Hair: While you may have never thought to use apple cider vinegar as a shampoo or conditioner, it actually serves as a nourishing wash for your hair and scalp. It helps to restore the hair and scalp’s pH balance, seal the hair cuticles, treat a dry and itchy scalp, naturally detangle hair, and encourage hair growth.
- Brightens Skin: Apple cider vinegar mixed with water makes a surprisingly effective face wash that clears and brightens the skin. ACV contains alpha hydroxy acid that removes dead skin and reduces the appearance of age spots. In addition, its malic acid content makes it a potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral solution that reduces the formation of blemishes. For those with extra dry skin, ACV can help to hydrate and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, resulting in a bright, youthful appearance.
- Eliminates Bad Breath: The buildup of bacteria in the mouth can not only cause gum disease and increase plaque, but it can also leave you with horrible-smelling breath. Luckily, a simple swish of the liquid mixed with some water can eliminate your bad breath and improve mouth health by killing the bacteria and breaking down the plaque.
- Reduces Body Odor: The body produces a strong and unpleasant odor when overactive sweat glands generate an abundance of sweat that is then mixed with bacteria. Because apple cider vinegar helps to kill unwanted bacteria, applying ACV to your underarms can help reduce the odor.
- Removes Skin Warts: A skin wart can be an embarrassing, bothersome growth that is difficult to remove with common creams, astringents or treatments. Fortunately, ACV will save you a trip to your dermatologist’s office, because it can be mixed with water and applied to your wart for an easy, painless remedy that will reduce the wart’s appearance over time.
- Relieves a Poison Ivy Rash: If you’ve ever returned from a hike or a camping trip with areas of red bumps, swelling, blisters, pain or itching on the skin, it’s highly likely that you rubbed up against a poison ivy plant. Before the uncomfortable rash spreads to other parts of your body, apply a teaspoon of ACV directly to the affected area. The liquid will pull out the toxins from your skin’s pores, reducing the swelling and redness, and relieve the itching.
- Helps You Lose Weight: While this is somewhat of a debated benefit, evidence shows that apple cider vinegar may actually help to reduce body weight. It works by lowering blood glucose levels, blocking the digestion of starch, reducing appetite, and burning fat.
Benefits for the Home
While drinking apple cider vinegar and consuming in its various forms is highly beneficial for your overall health and appearance, the truly surprising benefits are what it can do for your home and garden.
- Cleans Your Home: Apple cider vinegar is not only a better-smelling, more natural way to clean your kitchen counters, bathroom tile, and hardwood floors, but it will also save you money as compared to expensive, commercial cleaners. The mild acidic properties of ACV help to kill bacteria, effectively remove dirt and mineral deposits from surfaces and provide a non-toxic solution for disinfecting your home.
- Helps Your Pets: Since apple cider vinegar is a safe and non-toxic solution for humans to consume and apply topically, it can also be used in the same ways on your furry family members. ACV may be used to treat skin rashes or cuts on your pets, can be mixed with water and used as a shampoo to reduce itching, kill fleas and cleanse the skin, and can even be used to clean messes left behind during potty training.
- Preserves Food: Vinegar is used as a common preservative for pickled foods but depending on the type used, it can also add a unique flavor that tastes great and makes vegetables last longer. Using apple cider vinegar as a food preservative is especially beneficial since it is a probiotic that contributes to a healthier gut.
- Improves Dye Color: Whether you’re dying eggs on Easter or freshening up your hair color with an at-home treatment, adding apple cider vinegar to your dye will result in richer, fuller color. The vinegar helps to set the dye on the object you’re coloring and keep it looking brighter through multiple washes and wear.
- Kills Weeds: Maintaining a beautiful garden void of pesky, overgrown weeds can not only be expensive if you’re using name-brand chemicals, but it can be poisonous to your children and pets. Using apple cider vinegar as a non-toxic weed killer is safer and more effective, as its natural acetic acid content kills the roots and prevents regrowth.
- Softens Clothes: Adding a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar to your laundry loads will not only help your clothes look brighter over time, but will also condition them, making them feel softer. This is especially beneficial for those who are sensitive or allergic to harsh laundry detergents.
- Unclogs Drains: For the ultimate solution in toxin-free cleaning and deodorizing around the house, replace your kitchen and bathroom cleaners with a simple mix of apple cider vinegar and iodized salt. The scrubbing power of the abrasive salt combined with the powerful cleaning ability of apple cider vinegar will blast through the toughest drain clogs.
Whether using apple cider vinegar for yourself, your family, your home or your garden, it clearly proves to be the quintessential product for cleansing and boosting health. Its unique properties and wide range of applications make it a household staple that serves as a safe alternative to a variety of harsh chemicals and cleaning products.