There's been a lot of hype about apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a powerful tonic which boasts of many health benefits – improving heart health, preventing cancer and helping with weight loss being on top of the list of benefits. However, it seems there's more to this superhero remedy than meets the eye. As it appears, apple cider vinegar has its fair share of side effects which is associated with drinking excessive amounts of it.
We've been digging into this subject and here's what we uncovered.
1. ACV AND THE STOMACH
Apple cider vinegar can curb appetite or cravings by giving that well-known 'feeling of fullness'. It does this by slowing down the process by which the stomach empties itself; that is the speed at which food exits the stomach and enters the lower digestive tract and is eventually absorbed into the bloodstream. This is good news for people trying to lose weight since this makes them eat less and reduces their calorie intake. It's however very bad news for people with a stomach disorder called gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is an illness associated with Type 1 diabetes and is caused by weak nerves in the stomach which inhibits its ability to empty itself so food stays longer in the stomach than is normal. That said, apple cider vinegar worsens the symptoms of gastroparesis such as nausea, bloating and heartburn for obvious reasons.
2. ACV AND THE TOOTH
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which is responsible for its benefits, however, consuming too much of this acid erodes the enamel of the tooth over time and can lead to other complications such as tooth sensitivity and tooth decay.
3. ACV AND POTASSIUM LEVELS / BONE DENSITY
Low potassium levels in the body or hypokalemia and its related symptoms of constipation, kidney problems, fatigue, muscle weakness and heart issues have been associated with consuming too much apple cider vinegar although for the moment there is little evidence from research to back this claim. This can cause further complications for people who are on laxatives and diuretics since these medications put you at a greater risk of potassium deficiency. Moreover, too much apple cider vinegar has been associated with low bone density or brittle bones and in some rare cases osteoporosis – again there is very little evidence to substantiate this.
4. ACV AND THE THROAT
This is ironic given that apple cider vinegar is noted to soothe sore throats. However, consuming it in large amounts has been noted to irritate the throat and even cause oesophagal burns because of its high acidity.
5. ACV AND THE SKIN
Skin irritation is also another irony of apple cider vinegar since it boasts of so many benefits for the skin such as treatment and prevention of skin infections (acne, eczema and sunburn), being a good exfoliant, foot soak and toner for the skin (because it balances the skin's natural pH). Skin irritations as side effects are however very rare and usually occur when you apply undiluted apple cider vinegar to the skin for topical purposes. Besides most reported cases have been from anecdotal sources.
6. ACV AND OTHER MEDICATIONS
Apple cider vinegar doesn't gel well with other medications and on top of this list of medications are insulin, laxatives and diuretics.
7. ACV AND HYPOGLYCEMIA
'Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than normal,' says Mayo Clinic. According to the American Diabetes Association, it may also be a side effect of taking insulin (to control your blood sugar) or what is known as an insulin reaction or insulin shock. That said, taking apple cider vinegar (which also lowers blood sugar) worsens hypoglycemia for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics who are on insulin for obvious reasons.
By and large, these side effects are caused by taking too much apple cider vinegar. Here are some tips for drinking or using apple cider vinegar safely so you can reap the benefits without experiencing these horrifying side effects:
- Dilute before drinking – diluting in an 8oz glass of water is advised.
- Consult your physician before making it a part of your diet especially if you are diabetic, have certain medical conditions such as hypokalemia and gastroparesis or you're on certain medications. Alternatively, stop taking it altogether.
- Rinse your mouth with water after drinking it.
- Less is more – drink apple cider vinegar in moderation – not more than 2 tablespoons per day are recommended.
- Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly if you have diabetes or gastroparesis; that is if you decide to go ahead to take apple cider vinegar.
- Take apple cider vinegar with meals.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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