The truth about apple cider vinegar

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David Wolfe's Website

David “Avocado” Wolfe

Connor Mallis

David “Avocado” Wolfe claims that there are 10 “amazing” benefits of consuming Apple Cider Vinegar before going to bed.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is created when you leave apples and in water at room temperature until the natural sugars ferment and form ethanol.

While Wolfe, and others like him, claim that ACV is a superfood and drinking it brings a range of health benefits such as reduced chances of getting heart disease, controlling blood sugar and weight loss, the research done so far paints a different picture.

We questioned his 10 points one by one:

  1. Weight loss

Wolfe claimed: “Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is closely linked to obesity …ACV prevents accumulation of fat. In one study, it was found to do this by reducing the body’s ability to turn starchy foods, like pasta and rice, into calories. Apple cider vinegar was also found to reduce appetite. It does this thanks to an ingredient called pectin that makes your brain feel more satisfied.”

According to Dr Rosemary Stanton, nutritionist at the University of New South Wales, pectin isn’t even found in ACV. “Claims that pectin – a type of viscous dietary fibre – in cider vinegar will help weight loss by making you feel full for longer ignores the fact that the pectin in apples is not found in apple cider vinegar.”

A study conducted in the UK found that the vinegar itself helped to control participants’ appetites. The study showed that participants who had a drink that contained ACV were nauseated and didn’t feel inclined to eat as much as the other participants who didn’t have vinegar in their drink.

A study done in Japan involved 155 obese individuals.  Over 12 weeks some were given a daily dose of 15ml of vinegar, some 30ml of vinegar and another group was given a placebo. The 15ml group lost on average 1.2kg and the 30ml group lost 1.9kg, whilst the placebo stayed the same.

However, the researchers noted that participants self-reported nutrition intake which has been shown to be highly inaccurate in obese individuals. Moreover, it should be noted that since this study was published in 2009, the results have not been replicated.

They concluded that although ACV consumption may increase satiety to some extent (as a result of either delayed gastric emptying and/or nausea); far more research needs to be done before claims of accelerated weight loss can be made.”

Verdict: Dubious

  1. Stopping hiccups

Wolfe said: “The sour taste of apple cider vinegar overstimulates the nerves in your throat that cause hiccups. This causes the nerves to “forget” about the need to hiccup.”

This claim is based on an assertion by a 13-year-old science prize winner who experimented on herself.

We could find no other research on this claim.

Verdict: Dubious

  1. Sore throat treatment

Wolfe said: There are claims the bacteria responsible for a sore throat can’t thrive in the acidic environment apple cider vinegar creates. Additionally, the vinegar contains natural anti-bacterial properties.

There hasn’t been a whole load of study done on this either, although it is claimed “If that sore throat is due to allergies, ACV packs an extra punch, since it also breaks up mucous and sinus congestion.”

Dr Stanton also noted “if taken neat (not mixed with anything) the acidity of apple cider vinegar could damage the lining of the oesophagus”

If taken correctly it may be beneficial, but there is still insufficient evidence.

Verdict: Plausible

  1. Stuffy nose relief

According to Wolfe: ACV contains the vitamins B1, B2, A and E, as well as potassium and magnesium. These are supposed to work together to thin mucus and clear your sinuses.

We couldn’t find any evidence to support or deny this claim.

Verdict: Plausible

  1. Acid reflux treatment

Wolfe’s fifth claim was: “Acid reflux occurs when you have too little stomach acid. The small amount has to slosh around in order to do its job and some of the acid winds up in your oesophagus.”

There’s no evidence to prove that ACV helps with acid reflux.

Verdict: Plausible

  1. Reduced night time leg cramps

Wolfe asks: “Is sharp, tight pain in your legs keeping you up at night? It’s most likely caused by a lack of potassium.

“Lucky for you, apple cider vinegar contains a healthy helping of potassium that will restore your body’s balance. Mix two tablespoons of ACV with a glass of warm water and drink it before bed each night to reduce cramps.”

This one may be a little farfetched. Per serving (15ml or 1tbls) this brand of ACV has no sodium and only 11mg of potassium.

According to Dr Stanton: “The recommended dietary intake of potassium is 2,800 mg/day for women and 3,800 mg/day for men. Bananas have around 400 mg.”

One banana a day is more likely to keep the cramps away.

Verdict: Myth

  1. Lowered blood-sugar

Wolfe then goes on to claim: “The second most common cause of insomnia is a high blood-sugar level. It stops your body from going into the fat metabolism stage, which is necessary for sleep.

“Apple cider vinegar works to lower blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity. Take two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar straight before bed each night if high blood-sugar levels are a problem for you. If you are on diabetes medication, consult with your doctor before using this remedy.”

There have been several studies on the impact ACV has on blood sugar levels. A European study from 2005 found that adding ACV to a meal reduced glucose levels for at least 45 minutes.

But Dr Stanton noted, ”When the carbs came from a lower GI food such as wholegrain bread, the vinegar had no effect.”

Verdict: Plausible in some cases

  1. Bad breath treatment

Wolfe’s next assertion is: “If you find yourself waking up with a nasty taste and odour in your mouth, an abundance of bacteria in your mouth is probably to blame. Apple cider vinegar will kill this bacteria and keep your mouth fresh during the night.”

Although this may make your breath nicer in the morning, it could damage your teeth. The pH level of vinegar is 3.075 and tooth decay starts to occur when acidity reaches pH 5.5. (On a pH level chart 7 is neutral, so 3.075 is more acidic than 5.5, and worse for teeth).

Raquel Villarreal from livestrong.com said:

“Because tooth enamel is left in a weakened state after coming into contact with apple cider vinegar, it can be worsened if you brush your teeth right after sipping it or gargling it in your mouth.”

Verdict: Plausible, but vinegar breath is not wonderful and neither is tooth decay

  1. Reduced stomach pain

Continuing with his questions, Wolfe asked: “Have you ever tried to fall asleep with an upset stomach? Next to impossible, right? Not with apple cider vinegar!”

This links back to the night time camps which were his point (6.)

Verdict: Myth

  1. Indigestion prevention

Ending on a hyper-note, he said: “Indigestion and insomnia are really good friends. Apple cider vinegar squashes that friendship faster than you can say “apple cider vinegar rocks!” It works by combating nausea and bloating, as well as the acid reflux we mentioned earlier.”

This is just plain contradictory because one of the symptoms of consuming ACV found in a study is actually nausea. This is the reason why people eat less when consuming it.

Verdict: False.

In conclusion, ACV may have some health benefits, but more scientific evidence is needed to prove some of these claims.