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If there’s one health tonic that’s stood the test of time it’s apple cider vinegar. People have been brewing it for centuries. In fact, there are records showing Hippocrates was using it for good health in Greece as far back as 400BC. Apple cider vinegar is handy in the kitchen – it makes a fab salad dressing and can be used in marinades and for pickling. But more than that, the reputed health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar are near-legendary, with as many purported uses as there are varieties of apple. We did some investigating to find out what this world-famous vinegar really is useful for.

What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made from apples that have been chopped, covered with water, and left at room temperature until the natural sugars ferment and form ethanol. Bacteria then convert this alcohol into acetic acid, which is also rich in antioxidants, enzymes, and acids. Strands of a “mother” form in the cider and may be strained from some cider vinegars and left in others. This “mother” can even be used as a starter for the next batch of cider.

Popular uses for apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a bit of a multi-tasker. It’s used in cooking and even as a natural cleaning product, but many people also use it for health and beauty reasons. Here are a few of the most popular uses in the health arena for this wonder product.

1. An all-purpose general wellbeing drink

Apple cider vinegar is a folk remedy tonic that people swear by for general health and wellbeing. Boasting numerous enzymes, acetic acid, antioxidants and more, it’s a favourite for health buffs as a daily cover-all and may support general energy levels and overall wellbeing. But let’s be honest, it’s a little hard to swallow and yes, you can have too much of a good thing… just a tablespoon diluted in a large glass of water is generally considered to be a good daily dosage. Make it more palatable with a drizzle of runny honey. You’ll be pleased to know that you do get accustomed to the taste and might even find yourself craving your ACV tonic.

2. Support for scratchy throats

At the first signs of ills and chills, why not try gargling with diluted apple cider vinegar? Broadcasters swear by it for easing a lost voice, and the antiseptic properties of acetic acid can support the balance of flora and healthy microbes in the throat. Just keep in mind that its strong acidity can potentially damage tooth enamel, so it is recommended that you dilute the vinegar with water and rinse with water after use.

3. Supporting digestive health

One of the best-known uses for apple cider vinegar is as an aperitif, taken before a meal to support digestive secretions for proper digestion of food. Being a strong acid and containing a number of enzymes that may assist with digestion of fats and proteins, it may be useful if you suffer digestive discomfort, bloating, or simply after eating a particularly ‘heavy’ or large meal.

4. Alkalising

If you follow the acid/alkaline health theory, apple cider vinegar can play an excellent role as an alkalising substance, supporting appropriate alkaline balance of the body, despite its acidity. Like lemon juice, another acidic food that is popular for alkalising support, apple cider vinegar forms an ‘alkaline ash’ when digested, which makes it a perfect food for those following the theory and supporting healthy pH balance of the body.

5. Probiotic support

Being a fermented food, raw apple cider vinegar may be rich in probiotics, beneficial microbes that are thought to support the health of many systems of the body, particularly the digestive and immune systems. Apple cider vinegar may support immune and digestive system function by providing exposure to beneficial bacteria and their metabolites. This may be particularly useful after antibiotic use. Keep in mind that some commercial apple cider vinegar products have been pasteurised, which is a process designed to kill off any bacteria in the product. Unfortunately, this applies to the good stuff (probiotics) as well as any pathogens. Make sure you buy raw apple cider vinegar and that it contains ‘the mother’ – the wispy brown strings of yeast and bacteria you see floating in raw vinegar that indicate it is a live product rich in probiotic goodness.

6. Support for healthy hair

Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as a hair-care wonder product, probably due to its acidity acting as a conditioning agent. Rinsing apple cider vinegar through the hair is supposed to add gloss and help condition it and is a crucial ingredient to many ‘no-poo’ (no shampoo) haircare routines.

7. Support for healthy blood sugar

Apple cider vinegar is often used to support people to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range and it may be a valuable addition to the diet for those concerned about their body’s ability to process sugar adequately. If you’ve been known to crave ALL the sugary treats at 3pm each day, consider taking apple cider vinegar daily with a small amount of water, as it can support balanced blood sugars throughout the day, nixing those cravings.

HealthPost’s range of apple cider vinegar includes both raw plain  apple cider vinegar, as well as products combined with honey for a slightly sweeter (and tastier) health kick. If you really can’t stomach the strong ACV taste and smell, you can also try it in convenient capsules and super delicious gummies.