Alongside green smoothies and kombucha, apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular drinks among wellness enthusiasts these days.
Some experts can’t stop talking about its benefits. Many claim drinking apple cider vinegar prevents indigestion and leg cramps. They also say it boosts energy and prevents serious health issues like diabetes. (source).
Do leg cramps, indigestion, and low energy sound all-too-familiar in your life? They very well may, because these complaints are common concerns during pregnancy.
Are you an “ACV” newbie, just trying to cure common pregnancy woes or a believer who drinks ACV regularly? Either way, you may wonder “Is it safe to drink apple cider vinegar now that I’m expecting?”
Here’s what you need to know to decide whether or not to drink this ancient health remedy.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
It is essentially apple juice or cider mixed with yeast, which ferments the naturally occurring sugars in the fruit, forming alcohol.
After the initial fermentation, more bacteria is mixed with the alcohol, turning it to acetic acid. (source)
Types Of Apple Cider Vinegar
There are two basic kinds – unfiltered/unpasteurized and pasteurized.
Processing removes sediment and bacteria to make pasteurized apple cider vinegar. The product is a clear, amber-toned liquid.
Unfiltered or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar does not undergo additional filtration or pasteurization. So, it may be cloudy due to the sediment, and “the mother.”
“The mother” is a mixture of acetic acids and beneficial bacteria which occurs naturally in the fermentation process. It’s a strand-like residue in the vinegar and contains most of the health benefits. (source)
One of the most well-known brands of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is Braggs. It is widely available in health stores and on Amazon.
What To Know About ACV
Health and wellness enthusiasts believe apple cider vinegar is beneficial for a variety of ailments.
- Diabetes: Studies have shown ACV can lower blood sugar responses and insulin sensitivities when consuming certain foods. Still, only use it for blood sugar control under the guidance and supervision of your doctor. This is especially important if you already take blood sugar-lowering medications. (source)
- Digestion: When consumed regularly, apple cider vinegar can also help to detoxify your body. It contains probiotics which support gut health, improve bowel function, and balance your body’s pH levels. Optimal pH balance and gut health can relieve conditions such as constipation and acid reflux (source).
- Weight Loss: When consumed before meals, ACV helps you feel full, so you eat fewer calories. However, pregnancy isn’t the time to diet or try to lose weight. Instead, focus on eating a diet of well-balanced, nutritionally dense foods to nourish yourself and your growing baby.
- Common Cold: Many pregnant women are uncomfortable taking over-the-counter medications for cold and sore throat symptoms. Since ACV has antibacterial properties, it could be an option to fight these symptoms.
- Leg Cramps: Sleep disruption due to leg cramping is common in pregnancy. This may be caused by low potassium levels and pressure on the circulatory system from the growing uterus. ACV is high in potassium and can alleviate this discomfort.
In addition to consuming apple cider vinegar, many people also use the substance topically – everything from dandruff treatment to foot deodorizers!
Thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, these common pregnancy skin concerns might benefit from a small amount applied topically:
A Word Of Caution
As discussed earlier, there are two types of apple cider vinegar – pasteurized and unpasteurized.
Healthcare professionals recommend pregnant women not consume unpasteurized foods, due to the risk of food poisoning.
Pasteurization is a process of treating dairy products, raw juices, and other foods to remove pathogens. Unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar has not undergone this process. So, the “mother” and other potentially beneficial organisms and bacteria are still present.
Symptoms of food poisoning are mildly flulike, including fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, there are also foodborne illnesses such as listeriosis or salmonella which not only affect mom but can cause complications for the unborn baby. (source)
The bacteria causing listeriosis or salmonella might not be in all unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, but the risk is present.
That’s why it is important for mom-to-be to consult her doctor or midwife to decide whether the benefits would outweigh the risks of consuming it.
ACV Use In Pregnancy
Apple cider vinegar may be a hot wellness trend, but might not be right for you, especially during pregnancy.
Claims that apple cider vinegar can cure a wide variety of ailments are promising. However, many have yet to be scientifically proven. We need more research to confirm all of its risks and benefits.
Until then, rest, try to enjoy your pregnancy despite the discomforts and take the miracle apple cider vinegar claims with a grain of salt. Speaking of salt & vinegar… maybe some chips would make you feel better?
Have you used apple cider vinegar during pregnancy with any success? Comment below with your favorite uses and experiences.