How to Improve Your Gut Health with Apple Cider Vinegar
Gut health is very important. The gut usually refers to the body’s gastrointestinal or digestive system.
It houses the pathway to many of your organs; therefore gut health should be high on your list of bodily functions to keep healthy at all times.
“All disease begins in the gut,” Hippocrates once said.
Having a healthy gut is important for many factors – it leads to good digestion, weight loss, improved mood and memory and more. Some people even refer to the gut as the “second brain,” because of its high importance and influence on the rest of your bodily functions. (1)
The Importance of Gut Health
Maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal system is good for a person’s well-being. One way to do this is through keeping the right balance of good and bad bacteria living in your gut.
The right balance between good and bad bacteria helps keep diseases at bay. Studies say that 80% good bacteria and 20% bad bacteria can help our body function properly.
The good bacteria in your digestive system can boost your overall immune system, improve digestion and metabolism, vitamin and mineral absorption, and help your body eliminate toxins. (2)
Bad bacteria can lead to irritation and inflammation, which is unhealthy. It can also affect your immune system, cause skin conditions, acid reflux, and constipation and diarrhea. Poor gut health may even lead to diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, liver disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and even mental issues. (2)
How Does Gut Bacteria Benefit Your Health?
Your gut has a thin lining that is constantly absorbing the nutrients that your gut needs to keep the rest of your body healthy. The good bacteria that are housed in our gut are actually constantly maintaining this stomach lining.
Some of the brain chemicals, such as serotonin are affected by your gut health. Serotonin is the “feel-good” transmitter and is found primarily in your gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, maintaining your gut health will help ensure the proper production of and the maintenance of serotonin levels in your body.
The stomach lining ensures that we do not absorb damaging chemicals that could trigger inflammation in our gut. Because your gut is the pathway to many of your other organs and bodily systems, it is important to maintain gut health.
When that stomach lining becomes damaged, it leads to what is called a “leaky gut.” A leaky gut has been associated with other ailments such as depression, anxiety, autism, type 2 diabetes, weight gain and even Alzheimer’s disease. (4)
Furthermore, by ensuring that we do not absorb anything that might cause inflammation, we are protecting the rest of our body.
3 Ways to Improve Gut Health
There are different ways to improve your gut health. Experts say that we need to create a slight acidity in our gut in order to prevent the growth of bad bacteria. We can do this through the following ways:
1. Eat more fermented foods
These foods are lactic acid-producing bacteria that are beneficial to our gut. Examples of these foods are pickled vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
If you are already eating plenty of fermented foods, chances are your gut already has a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. However, the occasional yogurt will not cut it for most people.
2. Supplement with probiotics
Probiotics are convenient ways to make good bacteria grow in the gut. It is preferred by those who do not fancy the taste or flavor of fermented foods, and it comes in pill form, so it is virtually tasteless.
Probiotic formulas come in many different types of strains, with the most common bacterial strain being Lactobacillus acidophilus. However, not all probiotics are created equal.
3. Eat fibrous foods
Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that feed good bacteria in your gut. They also contain fiber, which cannot be digested by the body, but can still feed certain species of bacteria, stimulating growth.
In one study, results showed that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of disease-causing bacteria. (5)
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What’s the Difference?
Probiotics are good bacteria that help maintain digestive health by preventing the growth of bacteria. Prebiotics on the other hand, are carbohydrates that are not digested by the human body. They serve as the food for probiotics and aid in a healthy digestive system. (6)
Probiotic foods, as mentioned above, include pickled vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Prebiotic foods include bananas, oatmeal, legumes, asparagus, and artichokes.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Improve Your Gut Health?
Apple cider vinegar is a prebiotic and is also very easy to digest. A prebiotic, such as apple cider vinegar actually maintains these good bacteria in your gut. This is the key factor that makes apple cider vinegar so beneficial. (7)
Apple cider vinegar will ensure that the number of good bacteria in your gut are maintained. You may try the following apple cider vinegar mixture and adjust to your taste levels.
For best results, make sure that your apple cider vinegar contains ‘the Mother’. The Mother is composed of bacteria that develops on fermenting liquids, which turns alcohol into acetic acid. This is then added to alcoholic liquids, cider and wine to produce vinegar.
How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar for Optimal Gut Health
It is suggested that you mix 1-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water. Once you have mixed it together, drink it about 15-20 minutes prior to eating your next meal. Or, you can choose to drink it first thing in the morning instead of before each meal.
If you have never tried this method before, start with 1 teaspoon and see how you feel. Everyone reacts differently, so it is important that you start out easy and listen to how your body responds. You can gradually increase based on the amount you feel is most effective.
Some people might choose to drink the higher amount of 3 teaspoons diluted with an equal amount of water before each meal. Apple cider vinegar is acidic and will help replace some of that stomach acidity that is missing.
After drinking the apple cider vinegar and water mixture, it is recommended that you rinse your mouth with a few ounces of clean water just to protect your tooth enamel and prevent irritation of your esophagus. As mentioned previously, apple cider vinegar is acidic and therefore can be harsh on some parts of your body – like your teeth and esophagus, if used frequently. (8)
Other options for using apple cider vinegar would be to mix 1-3 teaspoons of it with raw honey or fresh juice and consume in the morning or before meals. Whichever method you choose, just remember that it must be diluted prior to ingestion.
Gut health is the key to overall health. Your gut plays such an important role in both your physical and mental health. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you maintain the maximum gut health possible.
Good bacteria are the key to maintaining a healthy gut. While it is important to ensure that you are continuously putting good bacteria in your gut, it is also important to ensure that you are maintaining these. This is where the apple cider vinegar comes in.
By mixing a small amount of apple cider vinegar with your choice of honey, water or juice, and consuming it either in the morning or before meals, you can really improve your digestive system and overall gut health.
Always consult a doctor before trying something new, but as long as you have your physician’s good-to-go, apple cider vinegar could be a quick, easy and potentially tasty way to keep your gut healthy and your body and mind at its best.