One of the most commonly used food ingredients down the ages, apple cider vinegar has many uses. From beings used as a natural preservative, to treating many health ailments, and its use as a disinfectant, it is a versatile product. It his presently being positioned as a great option for weight management and to help in the regulation of blood sugar levels. While its uses for treating many conditions have been touted globally, potential apple cider vinegar side effects have largely been ignored. However, there is a clear indication that overuse or wrong use of dilute acetic acid (the scientific name for vinegar) can result in side effects. Here is a detailed look at the possible adverse effects of the versatile ingredient in our homes.
Overview and apple cider vinegar side effects
Before we look at apple cider vinegar side effects it is important to learn a little more about the vinegar itself. The outcome of apple cider fermentation, the process includes the use yeast/bacteria which helps the cider become alcohol before finally reaching its form as vinegar. While it has been traditionally used as food ingredient and for preservation of various food products, recent research has indicated that it is effective in treating various health conditions including bacterial infections, heart ailments and cancer apart from assisting in weight management.
Here is a quick look at the mechanism of action of vinegar to know about its effect in managing blood sugar levels. Vinegar is known to reduce hyperglycemia, apart from hyperinsulinemia and hyperlipidemia. This is in addition to its proven effects on obesity. Various mechanisms of action have been suggested as being responsible for the above effects. This includes a delay in gastric emptying, and inhibiting hepatic glucose production. Additionally, enteral absorption, and an increase in the utilization of glucose are also attributed to the effects of vinegar. An upregulation in vasodilation and a reduction in lipogenesis are also considered as factors that influence the outcome of vinegar. Vinegar is known to facilitate insulin production, and stimulate the excretion of fecal bile, apart from an increase in lipolysis. Finally, the boost in energy expenditure and an increase in satiety are also attributed as some of the reasons behind the positive effects of vinegar. Now that we have a brief idea of the mechanism of action of vinegar, it is now time to look at the apple cider vinegar side effects.
Commonly reported apple cider vinegar side effects
Most apple cider vinegar side effects remain unknown to users for a long time as the condition develops slowly. In other words, the adverse effects manifest slowly over a period of time and gravity of the adverse effects are experienced or observed only at a later stage. It is therefore necessary to understand the possible side effects and the best ways to mitigate the same. With the right kind of preventive actions, it is possible to ensure that the side effects are kept at manageable levels and also to prevent the manifestation of the effects. Here is a look at common apple cider vinegar side effects.
Burns on the skin as a result of topical application of apple cider vinegar
There is a clear possibility of experiencing burns on the skin when the vinegar is applied directly and without dilution. As mentioned earlier, vinegar is a form of acetic acid and despite its diluted nature, it still has the potency to cause burns or skin irritation, due to its acidic content. Various reports from across the globe clearly indicate that the use of apple cider vinegar on sensitive skin areas can result in burns, especially if used undiluted. These burns are similar to chemical burns and will require appropriate treatment by trained dermatologists. Any attempt to self-treat these burns can sometimes result in permanent scarring and it is therefore important to seek specialist advice and treatment in the event of burns. To avoid skin burns and apple cider vinegar side effects it is necessary to dilute the acetic acid adequately before using it.
Dental issues – tooth decay side effects
Other apple cider vinegar side effects that require greater attention is the possible tooth decay that can occur when apple cider vinegar is used over a long time. Tooth decay is attributed to the consumption of food products with strong acidic content. Vinegar being acetic acid has strong acid content and is therefore to be taken in moderation. As the product is used as a preservative and as an ingredient in preparation, the choice of food products can result in over consumption. Consequently, individuals may end up taking far more than safe quantities. Additionally, food products and choice of cuisine are typically a matter of routine. In other words, it is possible that individuals may make the same food choices as a matter of routine. This is likely to result in intake of high acidic content daily. As a result, there is a possibility of tooth decay setting in gradually. Acetic acid can impact tooth enamel and this will bring about tooth decay. Symptoms of tooth decay often begin with pain or sensitivity to certain food products. It is essential to immediately visit a dentist for a proper check and to discuss dietary preferences. This will help in diagnosing the reasons properly for the right kind remedial measures. To avoid ending up with cavities or tooth decay, the best method is to dilute vinegar when used in preparations or as a preservative.
Impact of vinegar on blood sugar levels
This would count as significant apple cider vinegar side effects as it has an impact on health at a different level. While the proven effects on hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia are known and touted as health benefits, this can actually end up as an undesirable effect in certain categories of patients. Diabetics on medication to control blood sugar levels are to consult a specialist before taking a diet that has high vinegar content. This is because the effects of the mediation and the effects of vinegar may combine to control blood sugar to levels beyond or below the desired levels. While it can be used as supplementary ingredient to help control blood sugar it is necessary to keep the combination within controllable levels. Failure to manage this may result in dangerously low blood sugar levels.
Hypokalemia : impact of apple cider vinegar on potassium levels
Similar to the condition mentioned above, apple cider vinegar side effects include a possible lowering of potassium levels. Acetic acid will bring down potassium levels and when this dips below a certain point, it can turn dangerous in nature. Known medically as hypokalemia, this could either be mild/moderate in nature or could also be serious. For instance, when the levels dip dangerously low, it can result in a possible change in heart rhythm and could also result in cardiac arrest. While the mild conditions are not cause for concern, the serious conditions need urgent attention and possible triaging at a medical facility. Individuals on high vinegar diets need to be cautious when experiencing certain tell-tale symptoms. For instance, individuals who experience fatigue, an abnormal general weakness in the muscles or experience feelings similar to paralysis need medical attention. Similarly, individuals experiencing difficulty in breathing or discomfort in the heart, also need to seek medical intervention at the earliest. Individuals with pre-existing conditions of low potassium levels are to exercise caution while consuming excessive amounts of vinegar.
Indigestion and nausea – apple cider vinegar side effects
The use of apple cider vinegar for weight management is likely to result in certain side effects in some individuals. The mechanism of action of acetic acid when used for treating obesity includes the reduction in the rate at which food leaves the stomach. This suppresses the appetite of the individuals in addition to ensuring that the individual has a full feeling. It serves the purpose of helping in weight management through this mechanism of action. However, this also happens to be result in one among the many apple cider vinegar side effects. Food that is retained in the stomach for a longer period can result in undesirable gastrointestinal effects. Indigestion and nausea have been reported by individuals on vinegar, especially when it has been taken with breakfast. Some of the weight loss management programs require the participants to take suitable quantities of vinegar in the morning with breakfast. It is therefore necessary to adjust the intake whenever undesirable side effects are experienced. Vinegar is also not advised for obese individuals with other pre-existing conditions including GERD and ulcer. This could aggravate the condition and it is therefore necessary to consult a specialist. It is important to bear in mind that aggravation of acid reflux could also result in tooth decay mentioned earlier.
Best methods to prevent undesirable apple cider vinegar side effects
The best methods to prevent undesirable apple cider vinegar side effects is to keep the consumption within desired levels. The best option is to use apple cider vinegar only after it has been sufficiently diluted. Most of the side effects reported from apple cider vinegar are from individuals who have taken excessive quantities of the acetic acid or when it has not been diluted. Similarly, individuals with three different types of conditions are also to take adequate precautions. For instance, as mentioned above, individuals with low potassium levels, diabetics on medications to control blood sugar levels and individuals with ulcers/acid reflux are to take adequate precautions.
The use of vinegar as a topical application for come conditions has been practice across the globe. It is necessary to dilute it sufficiently and to also leave it on the skin only for certain period of time. Other methods to mitigate apple cider vinegar side effects is to eliminate the possibility of the acetic acid from directly coming into contact with the enamel. When vinegar comes into contact with the teeth directly, it could result in decay, if the consumption is a mater of routine. Finally, it is important to take only the recommended quantity and not consume excessive levels. Adverse side effects that are serious in nature need urgent medical intervention, while symptoms that indicate progressive impact should be constantly monitored with appropriate mitigating action.