‘I drank apple cider vinegar for a month and things went sour’
Sceptic Alexandra Carlton tried the wellness craze everyone raves about to find out if it’s a myth or a miracle.
As part of my perpetual quest to find a cheap, painless miracle wellness tonic for everything that ails me (and even things that don’t for good measure), this month I plunged into the fermented depths of apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar – ACV to its friends – is exactly what it says on the tin; a vinegar made from fermented apples. Advocates claim it assists everything from weight loss to skin brightness to digestive issues to jellyfish stings (handy). It’s supposed to be full of all sorts of beneficial acids, vitamin B6 and magnesium as well as things called polyphenolic compounds which are supposed to be vaguely ‘disease preventing’.
The type that most excites the wellness world also contains a ‘mother’ – a cloudy fermented blob similar to the Scobie in kombucha. And it goes without saying that because it’s a health fad it’s a favourite of bloggers, influencers and, inevitably, Gwyneth Paltrow.
You’re supposed to sip a few teaspoons throughout the day – diluted in water – and more or less everything that’s ever plagued you on the health front will vanish.
A trip to my local Woolworths reveals a number of ACV brands to choose from. I zero in on a bottle of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (“With the mother”) rather than the plain old Cornwells – because although the latter costs half the price for twice as much it doesn’t have a nice label or even live in the health food section. Artisinal products always feel more therapeutic.
Bringing it home I am, as always, ready to be transformed.
Here’s the thing about ACV. It looks pale and watery, which makes you think it’s going to be tasteless. It’s not. It tastes like Draino. The ‘apple’ part of the flavour barely gets a look-in.
As I sip at my first puckery two tablespoons, diluted in water, I think back to my celery juicing days, which were just as grim at the beginning. When’s Gwyneth going to decide that croissants are a superfood?
But I battle on and diligently swallow my sour little tonic throughout the day. Best part is that I notice an instant sense of appetite suppression each time. Not that it lasts mind you. I still squeeze in the odd consolation croissant throughout the week but the instantaneous aversion to food after every ACV shot is very apparent.
Holy mother of vinegar, the appetite suppression thing isn’t my imagination. The croissants are becoming few and far between. It’s astonishing how quickly and how immediately my morning ACV shot sends me physically reeling away from the fridge. This is the magic cure-all I’ve hunted for all my life. Fall off me, weight!
But then, almost as though a single ingredient can’t possibly be a miracle cure for everything, I start to notice that when I do eat, things aren’t moving through as well as they should.
Seems that even though there’s less food going there also seems to be less coming out. Not the equation I was looking for.
Apparently drinking too much ACV can exacerbate something called gastroparesis which is when the nerves in stomach stop twitching and shoving things out the door like they should. I wonder if this is what’s going on.
Frustrated, I turn to my old friend celery juice, something that I’ve largely eliminated from my diet thanks to its current exorbitant costs which yes, yes, I’m probably at least partially responsible thanks to this story. It seems to do the trick. Nothing gets things chugging along like my leafy, long-stemmed lover. I feel normal again.
OK ACV, you’ve got some explaining to do.
This week I woke up at around 4AM three mornings in a row with a burning, stretching sensation around the top of my abdomen. I’ve never had heartburn in my entire life but I’m guessing this is what it feels like, and the fact that a Mylanta tablet eases things pretty much confirms it.
I’m worried enough to head to my GP – I mean, this could be an ulcer right? – and we agree it’s nothing but heartburn, and deduce that it was probably caused by an excess of Champagne the night before. It’s not until I leave that I remember the vinegar. Of course it’s the vinegar. I’ve drunk more Champagne than I’ve drunk water in my day and never had this, whereas the ACV is new on the scene.
I’m sorry Champagne my darling. I’ll never slander you like that again.
Adieu, ACV. We had a moment but I value the inside of my stomach and while people who swear by you say that one of your greatest benefits is creating “balance” inside the digestive system, I’m not sure that “get bloated from vinegar then relieve bloating with celery juice” is the balance I’m looking for.
I’ll stick to Champagne, thanks. It looks like you but has a better attitude.