Over the last few years, cleansing diets have been growing steadily in popularity. One example of a detox diet involves using apple cider vinegar — an amber-colored vinegar made from cider or apple must.
Supporters of the apple cider vinegar (ACV) detox say it helps with weight loss, removal of toxins from the body, and blood sugar regulation. Despite many anecdotal success stories, little scientific evidence exists to support these claims.
Read on to discover more about the ACV detox including how to follow the diet and the potential side effects that a person may experience.
Fast facts on the ACV detox:
- There is not much research to suggest that any type of "cleanse" can detoxify the body.
- A basic ACV detox involves consuming the vinegar up to three times a day.
- Trying an ACV detox on a short-term basis is likely safe for most people.
Proponents of the ACV diet say that consuming ACV, either daily or as part of a dedicated ACV detox, brings the following benefits:
- helping with weight loss
- reducing appetite
- balancing the body's pH
- regulating blood sugar levels
- lowering high cholesterol
- improving digestion
- boosting the immune system
- providing probiotics (good bacteria) to the gut
- aiding in the removal of toxins
- healing skin conditions
- providing enzymes to the body
Some people may undertake an ACV detox to kick-start a healthier lifestyle, complete with a more balanced diet and regular exercise.
The body has its own detox systems, including the kidneys and liver, which help it to remove waste products efficiently. Some of the things that people eat and drink can support or interfere with the body's natural detoxification process.
Some of the available research on ACV is detailed below.
A 2009 study from Japan found that consuming vinegar resulted in weight loss in animals. However, it is not clear if ACV would act the same way in humans.
An older study from 2007 may help explain any weight loss effects associated with ACV intake. In the study, 10 people with type 1 diabetes were given a serving of pudding with either a cup of water or water that contained 2 tablespoons (tbsp) of ACV.
The group given the ACV had slower rates of gastric emptying (the rate at which food moves from the stomach to the small intestine). This can help people feel fuller for longer, which may reduce total food intake, thus aiding weight loss.
Effects on cholesterol
The 2009 study mentioned above also tracked cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fatty acid found in the blood. From the study's fourth week, the animals displayed reduced triglyceride levels – but this may have been a natural effect of the weight loss.
Research on cholesterol and ACV in humans is very limited. An Iranian study suggests that ACV may reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in people who have high cholesterol. However, the number of people studied was very small and so more extensive studies would be needed to validate these findings.
Blood sugar regulation
Drinking ACV with food may help manage blood sugar. Typically, eating a meal high in carbohydrates causes blood sugar levels to spike. However, when researchers gave people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, or neither, less than 1 ounce (oz) of ACV to drink with a high-carb meal, it was found that all three groups experienced more stable blood glucose levels when compared with those who had a placebo drink.
Another study carried out on people with type 2 diabetes examined the effects of ACV on blood sugar when given with a bedtime snack. Participants who took 2 tbsp of ACV with a cheese snack experienced significantly lower blood sugar levels upon waking. Researchers believe that the acetic acid in the ACV slows down the rate at which the body turns carbohydrates into sugar.
The best way to do an ACV detox is to use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar that still contains "the mother." The "mother" contains some enzymes, minerals, and probiotics that may be beneficial for health. Apple cider vinegar is available for purchase online.
The ACV detox drink is as follows:
- 1 to 2 tbsp of ACV
- 8 oz of water
- Optional: add 1 to 2 tbsp of a sweetener of choice (usually honey, maple syrup, or Stevia)
Other ingredients that can be added to this drink include:
There are other ways to incorporate ACV into the diet, such as:
- using it in a salad dressing
- adding it to marinades for meat and vegetables
- spraying it onto popcorn
- mixing it with a green juice
- stirring it into soups, stews, and more
Some people may drink ACV for several days, whereas others may drink it for a month, repeating the detox a few times a year.
Those who wish to use ACV should be aware of the risks involved in its consumption.
One of the biggest concerns people have about ACV is its potential to erode tooth enamel. To avoid this, limit the amount of ACV consumed and always mix it into a glass of water or take it with food. It may be wise to rinse out the mouth with water after consumption or to use a straw.
ACV can interact with some medications or supplements, including diuretics and insulin. Those on prescription drugs should talk to a doctor before using ACV.
Finally, ACV is very acidic and can irritate the throat and stomach. To avoid stomach upset, do not take ACV on an empty stomach. If it irritates the throat, drink a glass of water.
It is important to note that, at present, there is no evidence to confirm that frequent use of ACV is completely safe.
ACV is a popular health drink, and many people attest to its effectiveness. While much of the research on apple cider vinegar is promising regarding blood sugar management, heart health, cancer protection, and killing certain harmful bacteria, many of the studies are small, have only been carried out on animals or have yet to be reproduced.
Nonetheless, ACV is considered relatively safe to try, in doses below 2 tbsp per day. However, most ACV detox diets often advocate more than this. Anyone on medications or taking supplements should speak with their doctor before starting an ACV cleanse.
Overall, though, the best way to enjoy optimal health is to eat a balanced diet full of vegetables and other plants, avoid processed foods, and engage in regular physical activity.
Apple cider vinegar is available for purchase in most health food stores and online.