Can You Have Apple Cider Vinegar While Pregnant?
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to have health benefits in a range of situations, but can you take it during pregnancy? This article collates a range of scientific studies to provide a thorough investigation in answer to this question.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is essentially a mixture of apple juice, yeast, and probiotic bacteria. The yeast transforms the sugar in the apple juice into alcohol through the process of fermentation. The bacteria then convert the alcohol into acetic acid, which is what gives the noticeable taste and intense aroma of apple cider vinegar.1
There are different types2 of apple cider vinegar, including:
This is certified as being free of all artificial chemicals3, meaning that the product has not been chemically treated and that the original ingredients (i.e., the apples) were grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. As a result, many people see this as a more natural - and, therefore, potentially more beneficial - type of apple cider vinegar.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar has not undergone any form of processing4. For example, it has not been filtered or pasteurized. Raw apple cider vinegar also has no chemical flavorings added.Filtered Apple Cider Vinegar
This type of apple cider vinegar is when the product is filtered to remove the element commonly known as the ‘mother’5. This term refers to a cloud that is produced when the fermentation process is extended, which allows for more collection of acetic acid bacteria and yeast6. However, this aspect is removed from filtered apple cider vinegar, making the liquid clearer and more amber in color.Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
For unfiltered apple cider vinegar, the ‘mother’ is not removed. This makes the product very cloudy. Due to this, it continues to ferment post-production, meaning that the taste can keep changing7. Another benefit of keeping the ‘mother’ is that it also includes enzymes that are helpful for breaking down food5.Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar
Pasteurization is when a product is superheated to a very high temperature before being quickly cooled again8, which can help to keep it fresher for longer9. Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar has not undergone this process as the heating process can kill the probiotic bacteria, thereby reducing the health benefits of apple cider vinegar10.
What are the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar?
Many health benefits11 have been reported related to consuming apple cider vinegar. Some of the main advantages are:
- Highly nutritious
- Aids weight loss
- Lowers blood pressure
- Decreases cancer risk
Apple cider vinegar contains the following beneficial minerals and nutrition: amino acids, antioxidants, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and manganese11. These all help your body’s natural functions. Furthermore, at only three calories per tablespoon, it is unlikely to lead to any weight gain.
Aids Weight Loss
As the bacteria in apple cider vinegar are probiotic, consuming it adds to the microbiota in your gut, thereby helping your digestive system1. Apple cider vinegar also contains natural laxatives, which can help reduce constipation and keep your digestive system moving12. Linked to weight loss, the potential for apple cider vinegar to manage type 2 diabetes has been explored13.Lowers Blood Pressure
Because apple cider vinegar is beneficial in losing weight and reducing obesity, this also helps lower blood pressure14. This can help in combating a variety of medical concerns.Decreases Cancer Risk
Continued consumption of apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce the likelihood of cancer cells forming15. This means that tumors either go into regression or do not form at all. Of course, this shouldn’t be seen as an alternative to medical treatment. However, it is positive to consider that apple cider vinegar can be used alongside conventional medicine.
What are the Risks associated with Apple Cider Vinegar?
As with anything, there are always potential risks or side effects. In the case of apple cider vinegar, the following risks are more common with overconsumption16:
- Bone damage
- Delayed stomach emptying
- Erosion of enamel
Although apple cider vinegar can help contribute to feelings of satiety, meaning that you don’t feel the need to consume as much food, studies have also shown that some people struggle with indigestion and nausea when they consume it in larger quantities17.Bone Damage
This is an uncommon side effect of apple cider vinegar but worth noting nonetheless. It has been shown that prolonged use of this product can considerably reduce potassium levels and lead to brittle bone disease, even in people who are typically thought of as being too young to develop such a condition18.Delayed Stomach Emptying
Scientific studies have proven that, despite the aforementioned laxative properties of apple cider vinegar, consuming it regularly actually keeps the contents in the stomach for longer19. This can cause heartburn, nausea, and bloating, and make dealing with type 1 diabetes more challenging.Erosion of Enamel
Acidic foods and drinks cause erosion of tooth enamel, which can have lasting effects20. For example, in some cases, consuming high quantities of apple cider vinegar to encourage weight loss has led to incredibly high levels of tooth damage21.
What about Pregnant Women?
All of the same benefits and risks of apple cider vinegar apply to pregnant women to the same extent as non-pregnant people. Pasteurized apple cider vinegar can be seen as safe for moderate consumption during pregnancy.
However, you should note that unpasteurized apple cider vinegar may have more significant risks if you are pregnant22. Therefore, you should speak to your doctor if you plan to consume unpasteurized apple cider vinegar while pregnant. If it is the probiotic benefits you are seeking, other supplements are available that don’t have the same risks as apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is reported to be beneficial for a range of reasons, including weight loss, fighting against cancer, and lowering blood pressure. On the other hand, there are notable risks, particularly with overconsumption. Some of the main side effects are tooth decay, bone damage, delay in stomach emptying, and indigestion.
Pasteurized apple cider vinegar can be consumed safely during pregnancy, as long as you consume moderate amounts. Conversely, there may be more risks if you consume unpasteurized apple cider vinegar while pregnant. Therefore, seek professional medical advice before doing so.
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