People have used vinegar as medicine for thousands of years, and drinking it may potentially help lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, according to a review article published in "Medscape General Medicine" in 2006. Because of its acidity, you might expect it to make your body more acidic, but this isn't the case. There are other potential risks of drinking apple cider vinegar, however, so check with your doctor before adding it to your diet.
Apple Cider Vinegar Acidity
Apple cider vinegar, like other types of vinegar, contains acetic acid. It's made by fermenting apple cider into alcohol and then allowing acetic acid bacteria to convert the alcohol to acetic acid. Apple cider vinegar is typically 5 to 6 percent acetic acid, while distilled white vinegars tend to be between 4 and 7 percent acetic acid.
Effect on Body Acidity
A classic article, published in the "American Journal of Public Health," discussed the concept of acid- and alkali-forming food. The article noted that your body is very good at regulating its acidity level, so the foods you eat aren't going to affect your blood acidity level as long as you're healthy. You'd need to consume quite a bit of apple cider vinegar to affect your body's acid-base balance.
Effect on Urine Acidity
The kidneys play a role in regulating your blood and body acidity levels, and they cause excess acidity to be excreted as part of your urine. This means that foods can affect your urine's acidity level. Some versions of the alkaline diet claim that although apple cider vinegar contains acid, it actually has an alkaline effect because of the way your body metabolizes it.
A study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" in March 2008 found that people who consumed straight vinegar had increases in the acidity of their urine, while those who consumed pickles, which contained about half the acetic acid of straight vinegar, experienced a slight decrease in the acidity of their urine. Thus, a small amount of apple cider vinegar might not increase the acidity levels of your urine, but consuming a lot of vinegar might make your urine more acidic.
If you do drink apple cider vinegar, mix it with a less acidic beverage and rinse your mouth afterward. Otherwise, the acidity of the drink may cause damage to your teeth or esophagus. Some people have also experienced decreases in their potassium levels when consuming apple cider vinegar regularly in medicinal amounts. This could cause your bones to become weaker and increase your risk for osteoporosis.
- Medscape General Medicine: Vinegar - Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect
- Fox News: Pros and Cons of the Alkaline Diet
- American Journal of Public Health: The Question of Acid and Alkali Forming Foods
- Journal of Medicinal Food: A Preliminary Evaluation of the Safety and Tolerance of Medicinally Ingested Vinegar in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes
- The Lean Green Bean: All About Apple Cider Vinegar