Cue the apple cider vinegar shot.
The OG healthy elixir is a perennial fave among in-the-know wellness influencers (watch our video on the benefits of apple cider vinegar here) despite its aggressive (to put it mildly) taste, thanks to what many claim to be a vast range of benefits—from easing digestion to amplifying radiance. (Hilary Duff loves it so much, she drinks the stuff straight.)
So when my editor asked me to down the ultra-acidic vinegar every day for a week, I viewed it as less of a challenge than an opportunity. (You could say that I'm not throwing away my shot...at health.) Would it solve my bloat woes, energize me for the day, and offer up all the other wonders I keep hearing about?
What it's actually like to drink the vinegar
My first morning, I do what I imagine well-heeled, wellness-obsessed celebs do: I roll out of bed, stumble into my kitchen (still wearing my PJs, natch), pour myself a solid shot of the ol' apple vinegar, and—pausing just a moment to take a nostril-flaring whiff—down it in one gulp, no chaser.
Needless to say, I feel less than chic as my eyes instantly water and I frantically reach for a glass of water to wash the taste out of my mouth. The process takes me back to my college days (during which I downed shots of not-so-healthy liquids that were just as strong), but to the ACV's credit, it instantly wakes me up.
I feel less than chic as my eyes instantly water and I frantically reach for a glass of water to wash the taste out of my mouth.
In fact, I immediately feel like it's killing everything bad inside of my body (much like ginger shots do for Selena Gomez) because of the burning sensation going through my throat and stomach—which, TBH, has me worried about how stable my insides are. I can't help but wonder: Is this normal?
Turns out, it's not. (Phew.) Though devoted health gurus do drink it straight up in shot form, I later get on the phone with a nutritionist, who strongly advises diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV with 8 ounces of water.
"Don't drink it straight," insists Stacy Goldberg, MPH, RN, BSN, CEO and founder of Savorfull, making me feel a little crazy for doing just that hours earlier. "It's super acidic and could cause harm to your teeth, esophagus, and digestive system."
Want to know more about ACV benefits and risks? Check out this video:
What a vinegar routine can do for you
Although I'm still slightly scarred from the experience, I'm determined to follow Goldberg's advice and make another (less aggressive) attempt at drinking ACV. Despite its reputation for being something that's bound to make your mouth pucker due to its extreme acidity (oh, and that smell), the vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties—meaning it could potentially help everything from skin issues to headaches.
That's not all: It's an anti-bacterial that boosts your immune system (one friend of mine swears it's the reason why she never, ever gets sick), a powerful alkalizing agent, and is said to majorly help with digestion. That's because ACV's full of malic acid, which has been shown to help your gut (which then basically helps everything).
The wellness beverage can be a solid go-to when it comes to sugar cravings because "ingesting vinegar helps you feel more satiated in the short-term."
Then there's its dietary powers—Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Nutritious Life, says it helps break down carbohydrates, particularly starches (which would make it seem like it'd relieve bloating—an admittedly big concern). And the wellness beverage can be a solid go-to when it comes to sugar cravings because "ingesting vinegar helps you feel more satiated in the short-term," says Goldberg. (Score!)
I'm much happier with the rest of my week-long routine, which involves a cup of water with a couple of tablespoons of the vinegar mixed into it. This is noticeably more palatable, and I can't really taste the sourness. I'd liken it to a really watered-down kombucha—and having spent the past few years throwing back bottle after bottle of 'booch, I feel like I've unknowingly been training to down diluted shots of ACV.
My body (and skin) on ACV
The first thing I notice is that I don't get the usual post-5 p.m. bloat (which is a common afternoon scenario for me). Not to be TMI, but about three days in to the regimen it also made me more, er, regular.
Another perk? Even though I religiously drink an a.m. almond milk latte (and still do throughout the week), the addition of the vinegar fix gives me an added energy boost that helps me power through my to-do list.
Not to be TMI, but about three days in to the regimen it also made me more, er, regular.
And as far as beauty benefits go, my skin seemed to have an extra luminosity to it—which goes to show it can give you a glow in more ways than as a toner (or maybe that's just from the extra water I was drinking to get rid of the vinegar taste).
Though I'm not sick a lot, I was in tip-top shape the entire time I was drinking ACV. I don't know if this is correlated, but I developed a cold a few days after I stopped. Coincidence? Not sure, but I've now continued to to take the multitasking elixir up again (as close to daily as I can)—if it does all of these positive, gut-friendly things for me, why stop?
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First published June 7, 2017, updated December 13, 2018.
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