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Gut health is something that gets a lot of attention these days. The use of probiotics and other natural remedies to promote healthy digestion is on the rise.
There’s no question that good digestion is essential for a healthy life. If your digestive process doesn’t work properly, you could have difficulty absorbing essential nutrients. Over time, that can lead to big problems, including nutritional deficiencies and brittle bones.
One treatment that’s been in the news is apple cider vinegar. Today, we’re asking if taking apple cider vinegar can improve your gut health.
What Makes a Healthy Gut?
It’s easy to think of bacteria as bad. Anti-bacterial products are everywhere. We seek out antibacterial hand soap, gels, and household cleaning products as a matter of course.
However, not all bacteria are harmful. In fact, much of it is necessary to our health. One of the biggest repositories of bacteria in the human body is the digestive system.
The formal name for the bacteria that live in your stomach is microbiota, sometimes referred to as gut flora. These bacteria do many things, including:
- Defend your digestive system from pathogens by filling space and using available nutrients
- Prop up your immune system and help build antibodies
- Metabolize carbohydrates
- Synthesize vitamins such as biotin and folate, among others
- Metabolize certain drugs and toxins
- Protect your central nervous system
In other words, you need the bacteria in your digestive system. If you are missing healthy bacteria or have an imbalance, it can have profound implications for your health.
What Effect Does Apple Cider Vinegar Have on Gut Health?
Now, let’s talk about the impact that apple cider vinegar can have on the health of your digestive system.
The first thing you need to know is that apple cider vinegar is a prebiotic. The term “prebiotic” literally means “before life.” That means that it encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in your digestive system.
It’s important to note the difference between prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria. Examples include the living bacteria included in yogurt. While taking probiotics can be beneficial, the delicate bacteria you consume can be damaged during digestion and may not take root in your stomach the way you want them to.
By contrast, a prebiotic is essentially food for the healthy bacteria already living in your digestive tract. It’s a specialized plant fiber that provides nourishment to your gut flora and encourages their proliferation.
Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not harmed by heat or digestion. And, there’s some research that shows that taking prebiotics can protect your body.
For example, one study found that taking prebiotics like apple cider vinegar helped promote colon health and lead to better digestion overall.
Prebiotic foods also produce short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate and acetate. These fatty acids are absorbed into the bloodstream and help regulate metabolism, according to another study.
Apple cider vinegar is not the only prebiotic food you can take. Others include garlic, oats, and flaxseeds. However, apple cider vinegar has other health benefits that make it a desirable choice as a prebiotic.
Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria is essential for your digestion and your overall wellbeing. Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet can nourish the good bacteria you already have, and evidence suggests that it may be more effective than taking probiotics.