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ACV what’s all the buzz about? – Bariatric Edition

ACV = Apple Cider Vinegar…. I LOVE THIS STUFF. For those of you who cannot stomach the idea, there is a Bariatric Expert ACV Supplement for that!
I add it to my water in the morning. I use it as a salad dressing. I use it for cooking. I use it as a topical remedy for my eczema on my hands. I use it for scrapes. I use it to wipe down my windows. When my 10-year-old chihuahua gets a “hot or itchy spot”, she gets the ACV topically also. I’ve been using ACV for a long time now … way before it got mainstream “popular”. I guess you can call me a “vinegar pusher”. I want to share this with my family, friends, and clients because I love the stuff. Now, I don’t think it’s going to cure cancer or heart disease but it’s my healthy hack for a few issues instead of taking OTC medications. I’ve personally seen how it can help my clients with a few of their issues also. 
Here’s my disclaimer: Before you stop taking any of your medications, talk to your doctor. It is out of my scope of practice to tell you to start or stop any medications. Research, research, and then research some more, please. 
What’s all the buzz about anyway? Why are we hearing so much about this seemingly simple remedy?
First up, what exactly is Apple Cider Vinegar? Well, it’s made out of fermented apples and water. Just like “regular vinegar”, apple cider vinegar has 5% acidity. When shopping for kinds of vinegar, you will see that there are quite a few different ones in your local grocery store. There is the distilled kind that looks like a clear color in the bottle and then there is a raw or unfiltered kind that looks a bit cloudy. There may even be things floating around in it. It sounds gross, but it’s good. This is called “the mother”. It’s formed by natural enzymes while fermenting. Don’t be scared of it because it is safe to consume. We WANT to consume these funky looking white floating bits in our vinegar. The more the merrier!
Vinegar has a very long shelf life – it’s almost indefinite according to the “Vinegar Institute”. Your vinegar may look different with age but you can still feel free to consume it.
So what about nutritionally? What about calories? 
Don’t worry about gaining weight from vinegar because apple cider vinegar has no calories per tablespoon. ACV also has no carbs, fat, fiber, or protein. It’s considered a free food. You can add flavor to foods and at the same time not add any calories. Go ACV!
Why oh Why has ACV been converted into a superfood? Why is it in the news all the time and why should we be drinking it or adding it to our food? Let’s chat about what the health benefits are of apple cider vinegar. What’s all the hype about anyway? 
We hear that sipping on ACV and water can cure EVERYTHING … We see articles about how it can help with weight gain, skin issues, digestive issues, and a whole lot more. You won’t find a ton of studies that are going to support these claims. Let’s be super realistic about the ACV craze today. This also doesn’t mean that you should walk away from the ACV claims. Who stands to earn a pile of cash from pushing ACV? … besides the ACV company? Ya, and they don’t have deep pockets like the pharmaceutical companies so there are not going to be huge studies done around ACV. You will have to study it yourself. You will have to see if it helps you and then make an educated decision based on that. 
One thing is for sure, ACV is not going to make you gain any weight because as we discussed earlier, it has zero calories. But, is ACV going to burn the fat off your body? Taking a bit of ACV is not going to make any changes to your weight because to lose weight you need to have an overall good and healthy diet. But, that is boring old advice right? It’s more flashy to say – do a shot of ACV and see the pounds melt away. ACV together WITH a good solid, healthy diet can help you to get the scale to move in the right direction. It’s not the ACV alone that is going to lose the weight. 
Some good news is that some studies have been done with type 2 diabetics. They have shown that a bit of ACV taken together with a meal can reduce spikes in blood sugars and it can improve insulin response. 
There have also been studies that show a reduction in LDL (that’s the bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, AND triglyceride levels due to the antioxidant benefits of the apple cider vinegar.
What about acid reflux? Could apple cider vinegar help with this? Doesn’t it seem counterintuitive? How could something that has 5% acidity DECREASE acid production? This is one of the reasons why I use ACV. I use it to prevent heartbeat and to improve my digestion. If I add more acid to my HCI that is already present, I am better able to digest my foods and this causes LESS acid reflux. Most cases of acid reflux come from LOW HCI in the stomach and not from an overproduction of HCI. Research, Research, and then Research some more, please. 
So, if taking a bit of diluted ACV can help to improve digestion, wouldn’t that mean that it could help a whole lot of people with other digestive issues? There are so many people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and a whole slew of other issues. Since ACV is a probiotic food, it helps to raise the good bacteria in the gut. Higher levels of healthy bacteria mean better digestion, absorption, and assimilation of the foods that we eat. Hmmmmm …. There are not sufficient studies to prove any of this but there are small studies using mice in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. What’s stopping us from giving it a try? 
I have eczema on my hands which is directly related to my diet and stress levels. I don’t have it all the time but when I eat too much sugar (for example), my eczema gets a whole lot worse. When I am up to my eyeballs in stress (think global pandemics), my eczema appears seemingly out of nowhere. When that happens, I reach for the ACV. It helps my “scratch/itch” cycles. I have tried many creams and potions and none of them work any better than my cheap bottle of ACV. At one point I had drawers of OTC and prescription creams. They worked a bit and then my eczema would come back with a vengeance Once again, disclaimer here: talk to your doctor before throwing away your eczema cream and switching over to ACV. 
I think that there are natural remedies that can work better than the ones prescribed to us. Doesn’t chicken soup help a cold? I mean, it doesn’t cure a cold, only time can do that together with your immune system but isn’t there something in a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup that makes us feel better? 
Think about all the remedies that your Grandmother or Grandfather talked about. When I lived in Mexico, every Mexican Mother touted the benefits of chamomile tea. We used cool chamomile teabags for A LOT of symptoms. Chamomile tea was in every kitchen. Even my pediatrician sent me home with a prescription for chamomile tea on occasions. 
Come to think of it, I use apple cider vinegar, homemade chicken soup, and chamomile tea a lot. I am pretty sure that my kids are going to pass this down to their kids and the cycle of natural remedies continues. This makes me smile. In closing, I am going to get a shot of ACV and start my day.
Here’s to you and your health, 

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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