Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Bloating? Consider This First

Published on: 04/22/2024

Apple cider vinegar is a popular remedy touted as a miracle cure for several issues. Many believe apple cider vinegar can help with excess weight, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and digestive problems such as bloating and gas. 

Unfortunately, while some of these claims have evidence to support them, many are exaggerated at best, and others have no evidence to support them at all.

This article will focus on the proposed benefits for digestive issues. So, should you add apple cider vinegar to your daily routine to help with bloating? Let’s find out!

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made from the fermentation of apple cider by yeast and bacteria. The bacteria (also called the “mother”) turn the sugars in the apple cider into alcohol, which is then converted to acetic acid, making the apple cider vinegar with the distinct flavor many love. 

Unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains some of the components of the apples: proteins, enzymes, and the bacteria used in the fermentation (also called the “mother”). That’s why it appears cloudy.

Moreover, it contains other beneficial compounds such as organic acid (mainly acetic acid), and phytochemicals – chlorogenic acid and catechins just to name a few. All these compounds are responsible for some of the benefits associated with drinking 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily mentioned above. 

Incidentally, although apples are high in the FODMAP sorbitol, up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar are low in FODMAPs according to the Monash University FODMAP App.

But to better understand how apple cider vinegar may help with bloating, we need to first define what bloating is and what causes it. 

What is Bloating?

Bloating is the feeling of having a balloon in your belly and pressure against your abdomen. Sometimes, but not always, there is also distention – the visible expansion of the waistline.

Some bloating is normal and we all experience it at times. It can happen when you eat a large meal (think about your last Thanksgiving!) or eat too quickly. 

Bloating becomes a problem when you experience it regularly and starts affecting your quality of life. The most common causes of bloating are:

  • Constipation
  • Low stomach acid
  • Conditions such as IBS, SIBO, or gastroparesis

In gastroparesis, the stomach is slow in emptying its contents into the small intestine. Consequently, food stays in the stomach for too long, which can cause nausea, bloating, and gas. 

apple-cider-vinegar-in-a-bottle-with-a-bowl-of-apples-in-the-background

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Bloating?

There are several blogs and books about the amazing benefits of apple cider vinegar for many digestive problems. Unfortunately, no scientific studies are showing that it can help with bloating

Many believe that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help with the digestion of protein-rich foods. The stomach produces acid, which helps in breaking down proteins and killing bacteria.

As we age, we produce less acid. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that adding acetic acid (from apple cider vinegar) will result in better digestion and less bloating.

The only scientific study that has looked at the effects of apple cider vinegar on digestive issues is one that examined its effects in people with gastroparesis (BMC Gastroenterology, 2007). The results showed that adding apple cider vinegar slowed down the emptying of the stomach even more, which could possibly worsen bloating and gas.

The next obvious question is: what if you don’t have gastroparesis? Will apple cider vinegar slow down the emptying of your stomach as well? Well, we don’t know, as no studies have looked at its effects on stomach emptying or bloating in people who don’t have gastroparesis. 

The evidence we have so far is just anecdotal. Nonetheless, one study of healthy volunteers showed that apple cider vinegar increased nausea (International Journal of Obesity, 2013). 

Are There Drawbacks to Using Apple Cider Vinegar?

Before you rush to the store and stock up on apple cider vinegar, consider its potential side effects. 

It is safe to use apple cider vinegar as a culinary ingredient. You can prepare salad dressings, quick pickles, or hot tea. However, taking it consistently in high amounts (1-2 tablespoons or more) can have some harmful effects, especially when undiluted. Studies have reported harmful effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Acid reflux
  • Enamel erosion
  • Throat irritation
  • Lowering low potassium levels even more
  • Interfering with some medications

Food for Thought 

In summary, using 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in the kitchen won’t hurt. Yet, it is not a miracle cure for bloating or other digestive issues. If anything, there is some evidence that it can trigger nausea or acid reflux and, potentially, increase bloating. 

If you want to try evidence-based ways to reduce your bloating, I have a resource for you! Click the link below to download my free guide to beat the bloat.

Download my Free Guide!

10 Steps to Beat the Bloat

MEET ANTONELLA
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I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for helping women with IBS find their way back to eating without fear of painful gut symptoms and without unnecessary diet restrictions.

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