The vinegar and water diet doesn't involve consumption of only these two fluids. Vinegar, which is diluted in water, is simply ingested daily — along with your regular diet. Vinegar and water are often consumed together, so that you can obtain vinegar's benefits without damage to your teeth.
Vinegar and Water Diet Benefits
People have consumed vinegar for thousands of years in one form or another. Historically, it's been used to manage wounds, prevent infection and treat a variety of health issues, like stomach pain, fever and edema.
Nowadays, vinegar's known benefits are much more specific. A May 2014 review in the Journal of Food Science reported that vinegar products can have:
- Antimicrobial activity
- Antioxidant activity
- Anti-tumor properties
- Anti-diabetic properties
- Cholesterol-lowering properties
- Cardiovascular benefits
- The ability to reduce blood pressure
- The ability to increase energy levels
- The ability to promote weight loss
These benefits are typically associated with the micronutrients and bioactive compounds, like antioxidants, that are found in vinegar.
Most people who follow a vinegar and water diet consume about 15 to 30 milliliters of vinegar per day to support weight loss. However, many people also want to obtain some secondary benefits, like reduced cholesterol or blood pressure, as well.
If you're thinking about following a vinegar and water diet, you should be aware that most of these vinegar benefits were proven through animal-based research and haven't been thoroughly studied in humans. There are limited studies of vinegar's benefits for people, and most are very small (with between five and 30 people).
Commonly Consumed Vinegar Varieties
Vinegar can be made traditionally or mass produced industrially. Traditionally produced vinegars, which are the types typically associated with health benefits, are made from sweet or starchy foods. These foods are fermented for short periods that range between a few days and a month.
According to a May 2014 review in the Journal of Food Science, most vinegars are produced from grapes, apples and other fruits. However, the wide variety of vinegars also includes:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Champagne vinegar
- Coconut vinegar
- Fruit vinegar
- Kombucha vinegar
- Malt vinegar
- Potato vinegar
- Red raspberry vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Rice vinegar
- Sherry vinegar
- Sugar cane vinegar
- Tarragon vinegar
- White vinegar
Several types of commonly consumed vinegar, like red raspberry vinegar, apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar, have been linked to specific health benefits. For example, apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss, while rice vinegar has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer and lower blood pressure.
There are not yet comparative studies reporting which vinegar is best to consume. However, you should be aware that not all vinegars are the same. For example, according to an October 2016 review in the Food Chemistry Journal, apple cider vinegar has lower levels of phenolic compounds (antioxidants) compared to multiple types of rice vinegar. Vinegars may have different effects on your health because of the differences in their ingredients and the amount of bioactive compounds.
Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
- Reducing body weight, including body mass index (BMI) and visceral fat
- Reducing cholesterol levels
- Reducing triglyceride levels
- Restoring ovulatory function (in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Reducing gastric emptying rates
- Reducing glucose levels
- Preventing and counteracting fungal infections
Apple cider vinegar can also affect insulin. However, this occurs in different ways — apple cider vinegar might raise, lower or have no effect at all on insulin levels. Healthy people tended to experience reduced insulin levels, while insulin-resistant people experienced increased levels.
Unfortunately, apple cider vinegar's benefits were often inconsistent in other ways too. The same Nutrition Reviews Journal article showed that some vinegar diet studies proved no influence at all on cholesterol or triglycerides. In fact, a few studies even showed opposing effects (increasing glucose levels, for example).
In some cases, the reported benefits that did occur were short-lived; they reversed just a few weeks after stopping the vinegar and water diet. There don't seem to be any studies on long-term consumption of the vinegar and water diet as of yet.
Downsides of Vinegar Diet Consumption
Although apple cider vinegar is considered to be a healthy food that you can easily incorporate into your diet, the Mayo Clinic says that drinking vinegar is unlikely to help you lose weight. Most vinegar and water diets simply haven't produced consistently beneficial effects. This was not only the case for apple cider vinegar diets, but for various types of vinegar studies reported in the Nutrition Reviews Journal article.
The mixed results from the vinegar studies may be due to a variety of factors. While a few studies recommend consumption of more than 30 milliliters (6 teaspoons) per day, other studies recommend as little as a single teaspoon (about 5 milliliters) of vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar tested and types of foods consumed before and after ingesting the vinegar can both influence results greatly. Even pancreatic function can affect how the vinegar and water diet works in your body.
If the mixed results of vinegar consumption haven't turned you off from this diet, you should be aware of some of the negative effects of vinegar consumption. For example, Harvard Health Publishing says that the acid in vinegar can damage the enamel in your teeth. Apple cider vinegar side effects also include reduced potassium levels and altered insulin levels, which can be dangerous for certain people.
If you're a diabetic or are taking high blood pressure medication, you should talk to your doctor before starting any type of vinegar and water diet. Even if you're healthy, you may want to stick to the occasional consumption of vinegar in dipping sauces and salad dressings.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does It Really Work?"
- Nutrition Reviews: "Effect and Mechanisms of Action of Vinegar on Glucose Metabolism, Lipid Profile, and Body Weight"
- Mayo Clinic: "Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss Seems Far-Fetched. Does It Work?"
- Current Opinion in Food Science: "Therapeutic Effects of Vinegar: A Review"
- Food Chemistry: "Varieties, Production, Composition and Health Benefits of Vinegars: A Review"
- Journal of Food Science: "Functional Properties of Vinegar"