Does apple cider vinegar really help relieve bloating?

Not just a salad dressing ingredient, apple cider vinegar has crept into being an alternative health treatment.
Written by
Molly McLaughlin
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Last updated on
June 3, 2024
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Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Relieve Bloating? | Kin Fertility
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The existence of vinegar has been traced back to medieval Europe, when the process of making alcohol sometimes resulted in this sour liquid as a byproduct. Now no longer simply a salad dressing ingredient, apple cider vinegar has crept into popular culture as an alternative health treatment.

After the popularity of apple cider vinegar surged in the 1990s and 2000s, celebrities from Hillary Duff to Miranda Kerr and the Kardashians began to swear by a daily tablespoon of apple cider vinegar as a beauty and gut bacteria supplement.

Also known as ACV, apple cider vinegar contains B vitamins and antioxidants that can contribute to a balanced diet, while also having an impact on digestion.

But, when it comes to bloating, any treatment will need to address the root cause of your digestive discomfort. If low levels of stomach acid are causing an issue, some people believe that the high levels of acidity in vinegar may help. Although, there isn't currently any research showing this to be the case specifically with apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is also often credited with a whole host of other health benefits, which we'll discuss below, although the jury is still out on the effectiveness of most of these uses. Read on for everything you need to know about ACV.

What is apple cider vinegar?

Vinegar is made from a substance called acetic acid combined with water. The source of the acetic acid, as well as the ratio of acid to water, depends on the type of vinegar. Acetic acid is created through a 2-step fermentation process in which yeast consumes sugar or starch, causing bacteria to ferment and break down the resulting alcohol.

As the name suggests, apple cider vinegar is made from apples and sugar, with acetic acid produced as part of the fermentation process.

It is sweeter than many other kinds of vinegar and can be used to clean everything from your house to your hair thanks to its antibacterial properties. Apple cider vinegar is often added to salad dressings and marinades for an extra boost.

Unfiltered apple cider vinegar can have a cloudy substance floating in it which is known as the "mother". The mother is a mix of yeast and probiotic bacteria, while pasteurised apple cider vinegar is usually completely clear and has had these substances filtered out.

What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar has been gaining popularity as a weight loss tool, but there is not much scientific evidence to support these claims. A 2018 clinical trial showed that apple cider vinegar might help with weight loss, but larger-scale studies are needed [1].

We do know that apple cider vinegar affects the digestion of certain foods and the way our bodies process sugar. Apple cider vinegar may have an impact on stomach acid levels. As always, your doctor is the best person to ask about any health queries and to treat intestinal concerns.

Bloating and digestion

You may have heard probiotic bacteria are good for abdominal pain, bloating and gut health. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid bacteria, polyphenolic compounds and lactic acid bacteria, but is not technically a probiotic itself because the number and effects of these good bacteria have not been proven in humans.

If you're looking for a probiotic, you're better off eating yoghurt or a supplement that is clearly labelled as such.

Bloating may be brought on by low stomach acid production, and as we know, vinegar has a lot of acid. Because of this, some people think this acid can help to digest foods that are high in protein.

Similarly, low acid can also result in acid reflux, gas generation and other problems in the digestive process. While apple cider vinegar can be part of a healthy diet, as far as we know it does not have a dramatic effect on the way the stomach produces and processes acid.

Gut inflammation

Apple cider vinegar's reputation for maintaining gut health comes from the antibacterial effects of acetic acid. Unfortunately, these effects are only relevant if you're talking about adding ACV to your food before you eat it.

A 2005 study found that the growth of salmonella was inhibited by both vinegar and lemon juice, although it is no substitute for good food hygiene [2].

The antibacterial powers of apple cider vinegar are a nice bonus, but the antibacterial effects of stomach acid are much stronger, so if you're already sick, a tablespoon of ACV is unlikely to help with digestive issues or the overall health of your gut microbiome.

Again, ACV makes for an excellent salad dressing but apple cider vinegar tablets won't cure chronic conditions.

Blood sugar control

There are almost 1.5 million Australians who have diabetes, so it's no wonder that apple cider vinegar has become a focus for research on insulin control. Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose (or blood sugar) is too high, which over time can lead to serious organ damage.

In a couple of small studies, apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels after a meal, leading some people to recommend it to those with diabetes [3]. This is a real and significant benefit of ACV.

However, one pilot study also found that consuming apple cider vinegar can result in stomach issues for people with type 1 diabetes, so it is in no way a replacement for medical treatment [4]. If you choose to drink ACV to assist in blood sugar control, make sure to consume no more than 1-2 tablespoons daily.

What are other proven ways to reduce bloating?

There is a range of lifestyle factors that contribute to bloating and fluctuations in stomach acid. Consuming more fibre-rich foods, such as wholegrain bread, can aid digestion and reduce constipation.

Exercise and stomach massage are other natural remedies that can reset your digestive system if you are feeling bloated or experiencing digestive issues. When bloated, you should definitely stay away from carbonated drinks because they increase the quantity of gas present in your stomach.

Some people experience bloating due to specific foods like coffee, dairy or gluten, so keeping a food diary and tracking your symptoms may help you find the root cause. Lower-caffeine, dairy-free beverages like camomile, oolong, or green tea can be a potential substitute for your morning coffee if you find it is causing bloating due to its impact on your stomach acid.

Fermented food, like kimchi and kefir, have also recently been found to have a potentially positive impact on gut bacteria [5].

You might also consider incorporating a digestion-supporting supplement into your daily routine, like Kin's Daily Digest. This easy-to-drink formula contains pre and probiotics, fibre and digestive enzymes to ensure your gut's nutritional needs are being met, while also helping to relieve bloating and indigestion.

Prebiotics feed probiotics, so our formula contains both. Probiotics assist with digestive health and bloating while also playing a key role in the gut-brain connection.

Gut health is important for more than just digestion, it also supports your mental health through the gut-brain axis. That's why our formula contains patented probiotics that promote mental well-being, to look after your body and mind.

Our body needs to stay hydrated and healthy at the best of times and this also aids in reducing bloating.

Kin's Electrolyte Powder is packed with ingredients that work together to keep you hydrated, healthy and energised.

Electrolytes and Vitamin C are essential for keeping your water levels up and for providing essential nutrients to support your body’s mineral and fluid balance.

What is the best way to incorporate ACV?

If you decide to add apple cider vinegar into your daily routine, it's best to dilute it in warm water or use it in cooking. It is not recommended to take more than 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day [6].

ACV's sweet and sour flavour can be incorporated into recipes including glazed chicken or fish, vinaigrettes, dressings, chutneys and pickles.

Some people prefer to take an ACV tablet or capsule containing dehydrated apple cider vinegar because of the bitter taste when it is consumed with warm water alone. Others hypothesise that unfiltered, unpasteurised ACV with the cloudy "mother" still in the bottle provides more health benefits than the clear, filtered variety.

Raw apple cider vinegar often has a bolder flavour profile as well. Most commercial vinegar brands are filtered, while raw vinegar is usually the organic alternative on the shelf. Both types of apple cider vinegar have their pros and cons, so your choice will depend on the desired use.

When should I drink apple cider vinegar for bloating?

While apple cider vinegar may seem like a potential superfood, it is possible to overdo it. Acidic foods like vinegar may actually exacerbate acid reflux for some people due to the increase in stomach acid [7]. Trying to manage stomach acid levels is a delicate balance, so moderation is key.

In large quantities acetic acid can damage your tooth enamel too, so make sure to eat or drink your apple cider vinegar diluted.

It can also have a dangerous impact on potassium levels, especially for people already taking certain medications [8]. Those with irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive issues should take extra care when adding a new substance to their diet.

So, does apple cider vinegar help bloating? We all know we should try to eat foods with good bacteria and probiotic properties (in moderation, of course). In general, apple cider vinegar may have some benefits for gut health, but it is not a proven cure for any specific uncomfortable symptoms or digestive conditions.

There is no clear scientific evidence about the recommended daily amount of apple cider vinegar or its health benefits.

While some people do consume it daily as a supplement or to help with weight loss, it is important to keep in mind that excessive consumption can lead to negative side effects. It's best to speak with a healthcare professional to find out if you should start taking apple cider vinegar regularly, depending on your individual health needs.

Image credit: Getty Images

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