If kombucha is already a regular part of your wellness repertoire, then you may want to take note of another gut-loving elixir: drinking vinegars.
These tonics, traditionally made with a few shots of raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (if you're a lover of apple cider vinegar, read about the health benefits), claim to solve everything from asthma to digestive distress. But are these drinking vinegar beverages really the next big thing for a happy, healthy gut and balanced body? Perhaps.
Vinegar: What is it?
Vinegar is the fermentation of a carbohydrate source (sugar or starch) by yeast and bacteria. In this two-step process, alcohol is first made from yeast before acetic acid bacteria species (AAB) take over and do their own fermentation, resulting in vinegar.
Vinegar can be made from nearly any carbohydrate source – not just grapes. This includes alcohol (beer and wine), sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, molasses), grains (rice, malt, sorghum, barley), fruits (apples, pears, coconuts, pineapple, date), and vegetables (corn, beets, potato).
The aggravate of yeast and AAB form the vinegar “mother” – the murky and stringy solution found at the bottom of unpasteurized bottles of vinegar, kombucha, and other fermented products.
Despite making your bottle of "booch" appear somewhat cloudy, the mother is filled with enzyme goodness and gut-friendly bacteria that support your healthy body.
What’s Up With Drinking Vinegar?
Nestled between the bottles of kombucha and probiotic gut shots on the shelves of your local health food store you may also find bottles of another fermented goodie: drinking vinegar. This elixir may be taking up more space on your grocery store's functional beverage shelves, but it has been consumed for centuries for its healthful properties.
Numerous folk remedies note adding a tablespoon or two of unpasteurized vinegar to water with lemon juice and honey for ailments ranging from upset stomach to cold and flu. Drinking a (diluted!) shot of vinegar has also been touted for treating allergies, symptoms of IBS, digestive upset, high cholesterol, dry skin and hair, candida, and more.
Drinking vinegar ingredients vary from brand to brand, but usually are made of a mixture of raw apple cider vinegar, fruit or vegetable juice for flavoring, distilled water, herbs or spices, and a hint of sweetness from stevia, raw honey, or maple syrup.
Drinking Vinegar: Your Gut's BFF
Along with trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, raw and unpasteurized vinegar is filled with gut-loving properties.
As a fermented food, raw vinegar contains friendly bacteria (probiotics) that support the health of the GI tract. The probiotics in vinegar and other fermented foods have been widely studied for their effects on human health.
Preliminary research has reported beneficial effects of probiotic consumption with issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and intestinal inflammatory conditions (such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and necrotizing enterocolitis), and may aid in the prevention of allergies in infants.12345 More research must be done however.
From the Organic Authority Files
Supplementing the diet with probiotics (from fermented foods and supplements) has been shown to support immune system function, improve the symptoms of lactose intolerance, and may even prevent infection from disease causing microorganisms.6 These early studies are preliminary and do require further follow up however.
Controlling Blood Sugar Levels With Drinking Vinegars
Along with the ample amount of beneficial bacteria for gut health, vinegar’s most promising health effect is its ability to aid in blood sugar regulation.
Carol S. Johnston, associate director of the nutrition program at Arizona State University, has been studying the effects of vinegar for more than ten years.7 She notes that vinegar "appears to inhibit the enzymes that help you digest starch.”
When starch is not completely digested in the body, you get a smaller blood sugar response – at least “20-40% less in healthy people and in diabetics” - after eating a high-glycemic food such as refined white bread.
This means that consuming raw vinegar along with refined carbohydrates won’t send your blood sugar levels into a spiral. The vinegar will instead prevent any huge blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes, keeping insulin levels balanced.
Here's How to Make Your Own Drinking Vinegar At Home
If you’d like to take a stab at making your own drinking vinegar at home, you’ll be happy to know that it couldn’t be easier.
Bonus: when making DIY drinking vinegar, the levels of sugar and other ingredients can be controlled to your liking.
Generally, to make a drinking vinegar tonic the same ratio is used: one large glass of water (12-16 ounces) with two tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar. We love Little Apple Treats Original Apple Cider Vinegar, made with orchard grown apples in Sonoma.
To change up the flavor, use a shrub (a fruity vinegar) like Little Apple Treats Ginger Hibiscus Shrub (see below) which adds some warming ginger vibes and tangy hibiscus flavors, while giving your drink a bright pop of color. You can even make a cocktail with this shrub too.
Other ingredients you can play with are juices to sweeten the drinking vinegar like orange juice, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, honey, stevia, maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, or any other warming spices. Mix all ingredients well and enjoy your elixir!
Our Favorite Vinegars to Make Your Own Drinking Vinegars at Home
Little Apple Treats Apple Cider Vinegar Made with Organic Apples
Apple Cider Vinegar should taste like apples, right? That’s what you get (and more) with Sonoma County orchard-grown, hand picked organic fruit vinegar. This ACV contains the live mother and is packed with probiotics, to lend an overall sense of whole body balance. Perfect for anyone looking to improve the feeling of good digestion, visibly perk up skin and hair, and so much more. The mellow, fruity flavor makes a sublime addition to salad dressings and perfect for your morning wellness elixir.
Little Apple Treats Ginger Hibiscus Shrub
Drinking vinegars aren't just limited to ACV, try a shrub. Little Apple Treats Ginger Hibiscus Shrub is delightful drinking vinegar that brightens up any drink.
It too is made with orchard grown apples in Sonoma Ca, this delicious shrub contains the live mother too. Antioxidant-rich hibiscus and warming ginger help promote a sense of optimal well being. You get all of the ACV benefits and then some. You can also use this this shrub in cocktails too!