The ABCs of ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar)

“You attract more bees with a spoonful of sugar than a spoonful of vinegar”, Saint Francis De Sales is reputed to have observed back in the 17th century.

Perhaps, but if you’re after a healthier stomach, cleaner skin, lower cholesterol, and a little weight loss stick with the vinegar. Especially if it’s apple cider vinegar. ACV is a centuries-old superfood that also functions as a disinfectant, preservative, sunburn soother, Windex substitute, and more.  Here’s how to sip it, spray it, and more — for a mere pittance and for your good health.

ACV has been consumed for thousands of years. In fact, records show that we’ve been fermenting apple juice into cider and cider into vinegar since well before 5000 B.C. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates even prescribed it mixed with a bit of honey to treat coughs and colds and to treat wounds.

In the 17th century, Europeans began using vinegar medicinally preparing it in syrups and antiseptics as an all-purpose gargle to kill off germs.

So what’s the diff between apple juice, apple cider, and ACV?  Cider is made from freshly pressed apples. It’s similar to apple juice, but it’s not filtered or processed in the same way.

Apple cider vinegar, by comparison, is made via a two-step process, from apple cider that has been fermented by yeast and bacteria, which turns the sugars into alcohol. It then undergoes a second fermentation in which the alcohol is converted into the oh- so-valuable acetic acid which lends vinegar its characteristic strong smell and taste.  This acid is responsible for ACV’s magic. Cider vinegars are 5–6% acetic acid.

All ACVs aren’t created equal; look for organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar which contains a substance called mother, a clump of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give ACV its slightly clouded appearance.  The mother is believed to be responsible for most of ACV’s health benefits, including the ability to kill a variety of pathogens and promote healthy gut microbes.  At its best, it’s anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral.  That cheapie see-through bottle you got on sale may be sour but not too salutary; make sure you invest in a quality product and shake it well to disperse the mother before you use it.

Are you getting all the benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) that are there to be had?? Here’s the roll call.  (Note: A little ACV is healthy. A lot is not. More than 8 ounces of straight ACV a day can lower your potassium levels and be unsafe for some existing health conditions ).


Adding an apple cider vinegar drink to your daily routine can help stabilize blood sugar levels to prevent sudden spikes and crashes that mess with mood, appetite, and energy. It’s especially useful after high-carb meals and snacks (think pasta, donuts, bagels) . One study actually found that drinking ACV helped reduce blood sugar levels after such a meal by 31 percent.

An ACV habit also improves insulin sensitivity, which allows your body to use insulin more efficiently to optimize blood sugar control. One small study with Type 2 diabetics reported that consuming 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime reduced fasting blood sugar by 4%.

To keep blood sugar stable, try diluting one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in eight ounces of filtered water and consuming it before meals or before bedtime. Never use it straight because of the effects of its acidity on the esophagus and the teeth.


Vinegar has been an old- timey choice for cleaning and disinfecting for centuries. It kills microbes and pathogens (even e.coli) and has been used to treat nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections. Apple cider vinegar is antibacterial, and if you are chemical-sensitive, it is definitely safer than commercial products.  Just mix ½ cup apple cider vinegar with 1 cup water and scrub away. Use it to clean everything from your kitchen counter to the microwave, to windows and mirrors, the bathtub, and even toilets.  Pour into the toilet bowl and let it work overnight.


It’s not a weight loss drug but ACV can help.  In one study, consuming just apple cider vinegar diluted in water daily for 12 weeks resulted in nearly four pounds of weight loss with no other modifications to diet or lifestyle. Another study showed that consuming apple cider vinegar daily decreased total caloric intake by up to 275 calories over the course of the day. Animal models show that acetic acid helps block additional body fat by altering key genes and proteins involved in fat storage. One reason? Or rather four? ACV suppresses appetite, promotes satiety, lowers blood sugar, and reduces insulin levels. Try 1-2 teaspoons in 16 ounces of filtered water sipped throughout the day.


In a 2009 study,  175 human subjects who consumed 1-2 tbsp. of ACV daily showed weight loss of 2 to 4 pounds and lower triglyceride levels after 3 months; a change not seen in those who were vinegar abstainers, reports the Harvard Health Blog.  In some animal studies,  ACV use was able to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while also increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol.


Vinegar may be as gut-healthy as yogurt. During the ACV fermentation process,  probiotic organisms such as lactobacillus are created that keep the microbiome healthy. Lactic acid acts as a barrier for bacteria and inhibits them from replicating, and from producing gas and bloating.

Acid reflux (GERD) is sometimes a result of having low stomach acid (rather than the opposite).  If this is the case for you, consuming apple cider vinegar may help provide relief from reflux symptoms by introducing more acid into the digestive tract to prevent acid backflow. For best results, dilute one to two tablespoons of ACV in an eight-ounce glass of water, and down just before eating. ACV also helps to ease the constipation that accompanies IBS, acting like a natural laxative, thanks not only to ascetic acid but to digestion-enhancing malic acid and pectin, a water-soluble fiber in AVC that can tune up overall digestion.


Just can’t get used to the astringent taste of ACV?  Dress it up with a sweet and spicy DIY nutrition-enhancer- detoxer like the one below. Combine all the ingredients, give a gentle shake, and sip throughout the day. For whatever ails you.

  • 16 ounces of warm or hot water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon raw, local honey (optional)


ACV contains acetic acids with antimicrobial actions good for reducing bacteria on the skin, and that includes acne-causing bacteria. Besides acetic acid, ACV also supplies lactic acid, succinic acid, and citric acid, all of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the specific strain of bacteria responsible for causing acne. Note: Avoid applying undiluted apple cider vinegar to the skin. It can be abrasive. Try the following preparations instead.


Apple cider vinegar is an effective way to cleanse the skin of bacteria and dirt. To create an all-natural apple cider vinegar face wash from scratch, mix 1/4 cup warm water. 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Apply and rinse. And don’t forget the follow-up, a toner often applied to the face and neck after cleansing to remove any lingering impurities from the skin while also adding a moisturizing layer of protection.


2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (use 1 tbsp. if skin is sensitive or dry)

8 oz.  filtered water

1 tsp. rosewater

2-3 drops essential oil  such as lavender or chamomile (optional but nice)

1 tsp. witch hazel (for oily skin)

5 tbsp. aloe vera liquid or gel

Mix ingredients well; store in a glass container.

Use a cotton ball to apply toner to target skin areas, especially the face and neck. Use after a facial cleanser twice a day or after every wash-up.  Store at room temperature.


ACV is also a simple (and superlative) preservative. Think pickled vegetables! The acetic acid present in vinegar kills microbes and inhibits food spoilage. Research has shown that ACV reduces the number of Salmonella bacteria on fresh salad greens. Adding vinegar to your food can not only preserve foods but also help enhance taste and boosts your immune function. Use it to wash your just-home-from-the-market produce.


1 cup filtered water

⅓ cup good quality apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons raw sugar or other sweetener

1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)

2 cups of sliced and peeled cucumbers

½ cup green onions, or leeks, chopped or slivered

2 crushed chopped peeled garlic cloves

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, making sure cucumbers are covered in the brine you’ve just made, Adjust to taste.  Refrigerate overnight and they’re ready when you are.

-Frances Goulart

Photo byTowfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash




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