Is Apple Cider Vinegar an IBS Superfood?

Apple cider vinegar is a pungent liquid made from fermented apples. Often featured as a ingredient in gourmet salad dressings, it turns out this so-called superfood has earned a rep as a natural aid for many common conditions—particularly for easing the painful symptoms of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is considered a chronic condition marked by symptoms of bloating, flatulence, explosive bowel movements, cramping, and bouts of diarrhea and constipation. While the exact cause of IBS is still somewhat of a mystery. Health experts speculate that the condition results due to:

Bacteria overgrowth within the intestines following an infection.
An overprevelence of bad vs. good intestinal microflora.
Inflammation in the intestines.
Too strong or too weak intestinal muscle contractions.
Faulty signals between the brain and intestines, which disrupt healthy digestion.

The symptoms of IBS are often made worse by poor immunity (the presence of another illness) and stress, which is why many patients seek out home remedies, like apple cider vinegar, to soothe symptoms in the following ways:

1. Helps increase stomach acids
Although the benefits are still unproven on a scientific basis, anecdotally, drinking a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water has proven effective for many IBS patients. The thinking behind this home remedy is that fermented apple cider vinegar boosts stomach acid in IBS patients who lack adequate amounts to properly digest meals. Lack of stomach acid results in only partially broken down food, and can cause painful bloating, gas, and abdominal cramping.

2. Guards against free radicals
Free radical exposure has long been linked to ill health. However, research from the National Institutes of Health note that increasing antioxidants in the diet can significantly protect the body from disease (i.e., IBS, cancer, etc.). Apple cider vinegar in particular is an abundant source of polyphenols, which are naturally-occurring, plant-derived antioxidants that are created during fermentation.

3. Boosts digestion
If you’ve done any reading on apple cider vinegar, you already know that it’s superfood powers come from a cloudy substance, known as “the mother”. Thanks to healthy fermentation, the mother is jam packed with healthy gut bacteria and probiotics that aid the digestive process, soothe constipation, and boost overall immune function and gut health.

4. Makes you feel full and satisfied
Despite claims that apple cider vinegar is a weight loss wonder, this vinegar will not magically make you lose weight. However, claims that apple cider vinegar taken before meals can help satiate appetite, and help you feel fuller, for longer are not bogus. According to research from Arizona State University, apple cider vinegar taken prior to eating, greatly improved satiety and blood sugar levels after meals. This means you’re likely to eat less and not go back for second helpings, which can aid your overall weight loss efforts.