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Apple Cider Vinegar, Can It Harm You?

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in September of 2020.   For the original video go to

Brad: Bob is not here today. He’s on vacation. A little R&R. Yes, we need that as well. But Chris, the pharmacist is here to join us. We are very happy and honored to have him with us today. He’s here to help us become healthy, fit and pain-free as well. Chris is a very big advocate of exercise, and yes, even home remedies, as he and I talk about these all the time. We work out together weekly as health and fitness together. So, Apple Cider Vinegar, can it harm you? Does it help weight loss and/or diabetes? This is science based. Now, Chris, being a pharmacist and his IQ is way above mine; he’s done extensive study on the recent literature to answer this question. But, before we get any farther, can apple cider vinegar harm you, Chris?

Chris: Well, we always have to be careful. We always have to use a little bit of restraint, but…

Brad: Like a politician, he can’t give me a yes or a no.

Chris: Ha-ha, well, it’s not that simple. For many, many, many of us, we’re going to be just fine. But for some of us, who have diabetes or are on certain medications, we have to be careful.

Brad: So, it’s possible that apple cider vinegar could harm you but for most of us, not. We’re actually going to continue for the next five minutes and Chris is going to explain the details so you’ll be fully informed on the benefits and possible problems you may have with apple cider vinegar. So, Chris, you did extensive study, I think we mentioned you studied at least 15 research articles. We’ve got a couple that you’re going to talk about here. Let’s begin, you want to talk about apple cider vinegar, what is it and the claims.

Chris: Yes, basically it’s fermented.

Brad: So, they actually take apples.

Chris: Yes, and they just ferment it, and they add what they need to to get the whole process going. Ultimately, they put in a special bacterium and ultimately it becomes acidic acid, the vinegar portion of it and then what’s left over is this white streaky stuff. If you ever look in a bottle and that’s the “mother”. That’s where a lot of people feel where all the health benefits come from. In some cases, they even list it as a type of probiotic.

Brad: So, if we are looking at this in weight loss first. We’re going to cover diabetes in just a little bit but weight loss, is there evidence, if you use apple cider vinegar, it’s going to help you lose weight?

Chris: Yes. There actually is, Brad. There’s quite a bit of it as far as how it’s used itself. Just about every article I searched, they used almost the same formula. It was always between 15-30 milliliters which is just a tablespoon. Very small amount mixed in about four or eight ounces of water. Drink it up and then basically you would consume that. Most of the studies, they all tried to make pretty scientific. They all had a different pattern. One of the more interesting ones that I saw was done in 2004 by the Journal Association of Diabetes. What they did was, they had all these patients. This was also for weight loss even though it was for diabetes as well. They studied both end points. With that, they did a bagel, they did orange juice, and they did butter and then mixed in their apple cider vinegar in water. Then they had a placebo group where they just didn’t’ have the apple cider vinegar. At the end points of it, they ended up losing weight, rather significantly. Ultimately over 12 weeks they lost between 8-12 lbs. They all had to exercise. The group that did not use the apple cider vinegar only lost about 5 lbs. So, modest difference between the two.

Brad: About 30-40% more weight loss. I also have read, they talk about visceral fat, or the fat in the gut is what actually is targeted.

Chris: It does seem that way. We’ve always thought that you couldn’t target reduce but all of the studies that I read did seem to say that it seemed to reduce the visceral fat. That’s something that’s a pretty attractive option for a lot of people struggling with weight loss.

Brad: I know Bob, actually, we did a video on this study that was done in Japan. It had similar results, however we said there is possible negative effects about apple cider vinegar. Is it how much you take or your health condition? What are the potential problems?

Chris: Yep, couple different things. If you’re a diabetic, a lot of times there’s going to be several things that will create problems for you. It can be the medications you’re on, but it could be your own kidneys. Apple cider vinegar is weakly acidic, so it’s tough on the kidneys. We want to make sure we’re careful there. If your doctor every told you that you’d ever lose kidney function, check before you consider this. So basically, the things that we have to be careful with is the kidney problems, or if we are on certain medications that work with blood pressure or fluid retention, specifically the diuretics. The people that take those, it’d be things like furosemide, chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide.

Brad: Okay, so now you’re talking over my head with these big words. You’re talking about prescription medications?

Chris: Yes. Prescription medications that are considered water pills. Those drugs make your body naturally lose potassium.

Brad: That has to do with hypertension too and the heart?

Chris: Correct.

Brad: So, you need to go to your doctor and make sure that you’re okay taking this, particularly if you’re on other medication.

Chris: Yes. Especially the water pills and if you have reduced kidney functioning. Those are the big things with apple cider vinegar that you have to be super careful what to check with your doctor. By and large, they can be construed as a safe thing to use for weight loss management. IF you don’t have any things that are going to preclude you from having something unsafe happen.

Brad: Sure, sure. Are there any other things that we need to be careful of with like, can you just take it like they do on YouTube where they’re just taking it like it’s a shot of booze. Can you take it straight?

Chris: I would not recommend straight shooters of apple cider vinegar. I think when we’re pulling that right off the old bar, old school in a shot glass is probably not the way to go. We have enamel on our teeth and that’s what keeps them hard and looking white and pretty. What happens is because of the acidic acid, that’s what vinegar is, is weakly acidic and it damages the enamel of the tooth. That could increase your risk for cavities and other sorts of tooth decay. We do want to be really careful with that.

Brad: What about acid reflux or heartburn?

Chris: Yep, that’s the other one that’s pretty prominent. Since it’s acidic, it can increase your risk for reflux or heartburn. So, it’s something, that again, if you’re a patient that takes certain medications to prevent that, probably check with your doctor to make sure it’s something that you can safely take. For the vast majority of it, I think it’s going to be a pretty reasonable thing to consider.

Brad: There was one more thing on my mind with this before we get on to the diabetic, heartburn. So, you’re not going to take it straight, you’re going to mix it with water. Check with your doctor and hope for the best.

Chris: Realistically, all of the end points of all the studies that I saw, I mean, it really shows that you’re going to lose 5-8 lbs. of weight, pretty much across the board. Don’t cash in on the gym membership. We still want you exercising and staying busy. That’s probably the most critical component of that. The other thing to note is in all of these studies, the ones that had the most effective weight loss, there was always about a 250 calorie a day reduction in intake of food. So, it’s replacing something, or taking a little bit less. When you compare it with placebo, the apple cider vinegar definitely enhanced the weight loss by about 3 or 4 pounds on average versus somebody that just didn’t take the apple cider vinegar. You still have to keep exercising. You have to keep that body moving.

Brad: I know this relates to diabetes, which you can maybe segue into here. To talk about the absorption of sugar through carbohydrate as it moves through your gut and your stomach? Can you talk about that?

Chris: Yes, basically when we eat food, our bodies start to digest it as soon as it hits the tongue. It breaks it all the way down to the gut. That’s how it gets absorbed basically and that’s how our nutrients are taken care of. When we’re a diabetic patient, we struggle a little bit with how our bodies process the sugars that we eat in our daily diet. Like our starches and carbohydrates. What happens is, with the apple cider vinegar, it actually slows down the absorption of the food that you’ve just eaten. Basically, if I just had white bread and I was diabetic, there would be a quick sugar rush in my body.

Brad: Just from bread?

Chris: Just from white bread, yes. You could take white rice or just pick any carbohydrates you want. Let’s say I had 15 ML of apple cider vinegar, throw it in four ounces of water, mixed it up, drank it, then two minutes later, ate something. It’s going to slow the sugar absorption from the white bread so that it kind of is a more even level. What then happens with particularly in a diabetic patient, is it gives a more consistent sugar level, so it doesn’t spike way up and down. It’s just a more pleasant level. So, if you're a diabetic patient that's on medications, it allows those medicines to make your body do what it needs to do to process those sugars better. Thereby lowering your blood sugar which is safer for your big picture. In many of the studies that we looked at in particular, there was a Dr. Edwin McDonald, he noted that, the Journal of American Association of Diabetes again, the one I kind of cited earlier, it showed that it was safe to use with diabetic medications. Again, as long as you don’t have the kidney limitations and if we’re not on the diuretics that could lower the potassium, those are the bigs.

Brad: So, I can see you definitely need to consult your doctors because there could be other medications too.

Chris: The diabetic umbrella is all encompassing. When you look at it, you have a lot of different medications that most patients take, so we do want to be extra cautious with that. Check with your doctor. Make sure it’s appropriate for you and your regiment that you’re doing to treat those sugars effectively. In many cases, it’s probably safe. But again, have to check with your doctor.

Brad: Right. I mean, we’ve talked about this before. We’ll talk to the people. Say, if they think one tablespoon is good, maybe three or four may help lose weight faster. I mean, I’m healthy, I don’t have any diabetes. I don’t take any medications, I can probably take three or four and it’s going to make me lose weight faster, you know because we’re a quick fix society.

Chris: No, no. We’re going to go a hard pass on that. We want to avoid that mentality. We want to keep it at the regimen of doses, so 15 ML in four ounces of water is generally what we see across the board. Harvard Health publishing from May of 2018, kind of showed similar results with the exact same things. So again, with diabetes, it’s going to bring that sugar down gradually and gently, so we just have to be careful with it though.

Brad: We talked about that “mother”. That is that protein substance in there. They think that’s the big thing. But scientifically, that’s not proven either?

Chris: Nope, there’s a lot more research that has to be done. I think that’s the biggest takeaway from this entire conversation is all the studies that I looked at were 30-100 people, so it’s not on a large scale and not a lot of them were peer-reviewed. That’s kind of a buzz word in today’s society. We want to make sure it’s good, solid science, making sure we are keeping people healthy and keeping the weight loss, keep the sugars down.

Brad: Alright! The only thing I wanted to conclude with is I personally have used this because I had joint stiffness. I was successful and I know it was the only thing I changed in my regimen for about three or four weeks and my hands became less stiff, less painful. I couldn’t even shake hands with even an older person. I’d be doing the muscle stiffness. So, I do want to do another video on joint stiffness in regard to apple cider vinegar and hopefully we can schedule that in the future sometime. So, any questions? We’d like to hear comments from you. I would like to thank Chris for his time being here and his expertise. Once again, Chris, now this is new to you, but you know we can fix just about anything, except for…

Chris: A broken heart.

Brad: Yeah, he knows what we’re talking about. I don’t think this apple cider vinegar will work. It does cause heartburn so it might make the heart worse.

Chris: Yeah, you have to be a little careful with that.

Brad: Enjoy the day! Thanks for watching.

Interested in learning about the products mentioned:

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