Apple cider vinegar is a trendy health food product that has a reputation for being inexpensive, practical, and an effective treatment for many common ailments. It has a long history of being used in traditional and alternative medicines and can be found in many households worldwide.
What exactly is apple cider vinegar? How is it made? Is apple cider vinegar acidic? And, what are the true health benefits of this cure-all product?
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by pressing and crushing fresh apples. The high-sugar juice is then fermented using yeast and bacteria, which naturally changes the sugar into alcohol.
The alcoholic juice is then fermented again, using a bacteria that creates acetic acid. This creates the sour-tasting apple cider vinegar that we buy in stores. (1)
If acetic acid is created during the production process, is apple cider vinegar acidic?
What are pH Levels?
Let’s start by defining pH. What do we mean we talk about pH levels in food and the body?
When we talk about pH, we are referring to a 14-point scale that represents the free hydrogen ions in food, or our body. A food product with a pH of 14 is considered to be basic, while anything with a low pH is considered acidic. A pH of about 7 is considered neutral. (2)
- Acidic: low pH; less than 7 on the pH scale.
- Alkaline: high pH; more than 7 on the pH scale.
How Does pH in Foods Impact Your Health?
Our body’s internal regulatory systems are highly sophisticated and tightly controlled. Our kidneys, lungs, and other buffering agents in our body, work closely together to ensure that the acid-base range, or pH, of our blood remains balanced at all times. (3)
In general, what we eat does not affect the acidity of our blood, unless there is an underlying medical problem. And since blood pH is difficult to test, we cannot continuously monitor the impacts of our diet directly on blood pH. You may, however, see a change in the pH levels of your urine, as this is much more likely to be impacted by your diet, and is also much easier to test.
Eating a heavily acidic or alkaline diet will likely cause an output of urine that has a similar pH. The standard pH of urine is between 4.5 – 8. Medications, medical conditions, and the time of day the urine is tested can all impact acidity levels. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that your food or supplement intake isn’t the only factor contributing to changes in body pH. (4)
Acid-Base Health Disorders
Our internal body pH ranges from 6.8 – 7.4, in both body cells and blood. This means that our body rests naturally at a mostly neutral, but slightly basic, or alkaline, state. (5)
When your body is not able to maintain a normal acidity level, usually as a result of another underlying disorder, it is described as either acidosis or alkalosis.
- Acidosis: the blood is too acidic; pH is lower than normal.
- Alkalosis: the blood is too basic; pH is higher than normal.
These internal imbalances are typically the result of kidney malfunction or a respiratory condition that impairs acid/base homeostasis. Acid-base imbalances may also be seen in severe cases of cancer or other immune-related diseases. (6)
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Alkaline or Acidic?
Now that we know the definition of pH, and we understand the way that the body regulates our internal acidity levels, let’s chat about apple cider vinegar pH levels a little more. Is apple cider vinegar alkaline?
The pH of apple cider vinegar is about 2-3 and is therefore considered acidic.
As an acidic product, what are the health benefits, and is it safe to take?
- More Reading: Does apple cider vinegar go bad?
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
There is some emerging scientific evidence that supports the use of apple cider vinegar in traditional medicine. While more studies are needed to confirm the outcomes of using this natural product, the results are promising!
- It can help to regulate blood sugar and diabetes.
In a review of several studies, ACV dosages of 1-2 tablespoons before each meal were found to significantly improve post-meal blood sugar levels. Doses should be thoroughly diluted with plenty of water, and taken promptly before each meal. It is often added to a fruity drink recipe or ACV shots to hide the taste and help boost its benefits. (7)
- It may help you lose weight.
There is both anecdotal and scientific evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Consuming 1 – 2 tablespoons of diluted ACV before each meal has been shown to improve weight loss outcomes. This works because ACV helps to block the absorption of some starch, while also improving fat oxidation.
- Your skin may thank you.
Topical applications of ACV have been shown in some studies to benefit your skin in how it looks and heals. It may even reduce acne scars and help sunburn. The slightly acidic nature of apple cider vinegar allows it to function as both a toner and anti-bacterial agent, leaving the pH of your skin more balanced. (8)
Potential Side Effects
While you are not guaranteed health results from taking apple cider vinegar, you can be assured that the risks of side effects from this all-natural product are low.
ACV is acidic, and therefore, it is important to dilute the product with plenty of water before taking it. This will protect your tooth enamel and stomach lining. If you have a history of gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux, it is advisable to consult your health care professional before supplementing with ACV.
Apple cider vinegar supplements are generally safe to consume, in moderate amounts. Consuming high volumes of ACV in an attempt to detox and cleanse your body may lead to an upset stomach or frequent trips to the bathroom. Large doses of ACV may interact with certain medications, so be sure to talk to your local pharmacist about your supplement regime.
- More Reading: Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Final Thoughts on the pH Level of Apple Cider Vinegar
While the body generally can balance our internal pH levels without help, taking daily apple cider vinegar supplements has been shown to improve many health outcomes, including the balancing of blood sugars.
The acidity of ACV allows it to act as both an antibacterial agent and toner when diluted and used as a skincare agent. Consuming supplements like ACV gummies or capsule products can also serve as a natural remedy for gout, promote weight loss, and regulate the pH of our urine.
Overall, ACV is considered safe and has been used in traditional and alternative medicines for centuries.