I was on the phone to a friend overseas the other day who was telling me about his current nutrition regimen. One aspect that stuck with me was his ritual of drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV) each morning to ‘help with digestion’. Now this is by no means the first time I have heard this daily practice which prompted me to share some knowledge with you all.
If you type ‘’the benefits of ACV’’ into google you will find the following claims:
ACV assists with weight loss, reduces belly fat, facilitates blood glucose regulation, kills bacteria, reduces inflammation and even prevents (or cures) cancer! Naturally my science mind was sceptical and decided to delve into the evidence behind it all!
There has been one study to investigate the effects of ACV and weight loss in humans (1). This study looked at obese Japanese participants who were assigned to various groups, including ingestion of 15 mL vinegar, 30 mL vinegar or placebo, over a 12 week period. Now, before we discuss the results, I want you to know this study was poorly designed as the participants self-reported their intake, and trust me from experience, most people will either under or over report what they’re eating! Whilst the group who consumed the 30mL ACV lost the most weight (1.9kg) vs 15mL ACV (1.2kg) vs placebo group (unchanged), what was identified was that when they ceased the ACV they had regained the weight that had been lost. As dietitians, we encourage lifestyle changes that promote sustainable weight loss and healthy living, consumption of ACV was shown not be a practice that promotes these sustainable changes.
Some positive effects on weight loss were seen in animal studies, however if you have read any of our previous blog posts you will be aware that we can’t translate this into practice as the human body is quite different to that of a mouse (thank god!).
One positive effect ACV had was on appetite suppression and increased satiety. But wait for it… The reason it helped suppress appetite was because the ingestion of ACV contributed significantly to nausea (2). Now I don’t know about you but I’d rather hold on to that extra kilo or two and not experience nausea.
Please note that since that Japanese study was undertaken in 2009, there have been no reputable studies showing that ACV assists with weight loss. Therefore we can safely say that although it may increase satiety (through nausea – no thanks!) much more research is needed in this area to confirm if it shows favourable weight loss outcomes.
Absolutely no evidence, not even in animal models! Sorry guys but if you think that ACV is helping you to digest and absorb your food better (as stated by Dr Google and many others) the literature suggests that this is not the case. What I do often see in practice is the profound impact of the ‘placebo’ effect. People often believe that because they are taking a particular remedy (e.g. ACV) that they are experiencing the desired outcome. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the placebo effect, if it makes you feel better, why stop? Just be aware of the research – knowledge is power!
- Kondo, T., et al., Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 2009. 73(8): p. 1837-43.
- Darzi, J., et al., Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake. Int J Obes (Lond), 2014. 38(5): p. 675-81.
- Klein, A.V. and H. Kiat, Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet, 2015. 28(6): p. 675-86.
- Johnston, C.S., et al., Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults. Ann Nutr Metab, 2010. 56(1): p. 74-9.
- 7. Salbe, A.D., et al., Vinegar lacks antiglycemic action on enteral carbohydrate absorption in human subjects. Nutr Res, 2009. 29(12): p. 846-9.
- 8. Hlebowicz, J., et al., Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study. BMC Gastroenterol, 2007. 7: p. 46.
- Entani, E., et al., Antibacterial action of vinegar against food-borne pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli O157:H7. J Food Prot, 1998. 61(8): p. 953-9.
- Hill, L.L., et al., Esophageal injury by apple cider vinegar tablets and subsequent evaluation of products. J Am Diet Assoc, 2005. 105(7): p. 1141-4.
- Shen, F., et al., Vinegar Treatment Prevents the Development of Murine Experimental Colitis via Inhibition of Inflammation and Apoptosis. J Agric Food Chem, 2016. 64(5): p. 1111-21.
- Radosavljevic, V., et al., Non-occupational risk factors for bladder cancer: a case-control study. Tumori, 2004.90(2): p. 175-80.
- 30. Xibib, S., et al., Risk factors for oesophageal cancer in Linzhou, China: a case-control study. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 2003. 4(2): p. 119-24.