Apple Cider Vinegar For Your Tummy

Or What Do Cows, Babies and People With Celiac Disease Have In Common?

I’ve recently returned to an old friend.  I’m not sure why I left really.  I guess habits change over time and things that were once routine, rituals even,  get replaced.  Out with the old, in with the new so to speak.  Well, as much as I’m a fan of science and innovation (the new), sometimes reaching back for the old is a good thing.  It’s soothing and comforting and health giving.

A quick google search will bring back dozens of uses for apple cider vinegar that range from washing your hair to controlling weeds and rodents in your garden to cleaning your radiator.  So I’m not going to get into all of that here.  This is more about a personal relationship with ACV; both mine and the bacteria that populate both your gut and mine.

The Lab Rat

A little over twenty years ago, my son was about two years old and I was ready to add to my family again.  The first miscarriage, though difficult and dramatic (I miscarried in the ultra sound clinic among an assembly of medical professionals who had no idea what to do. The receptionist’s biggest concern getting me out of her washroom and making sure I didn’t stain the chairs in the waiting room while waiting for the ambulance) wasn’t a huge cause for concern.  These things happen.

  At the time my doctor told me that about 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.  The next pregnancy went five months before the ultra sound showed the foetus has died.  After having labour induced and delivering the foetus the testing started.  No diabetes, no genetic issues, no physical abnormalities of the uterus.  I was poked and prodded until I felt more like a science experiment than a human being and all I got for it was no answers  and two more miscarriages.  The one test that was not performed was a celiac test.  If you’re reading this, you’re probably not surprised and you probably have your own story of feeling like a frustrated pin cushion so I’m sure you can relate.

Of Cows, Babies and Old Tyme Medicine

It was around this time that my friend gave me a book called “Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Health from a Noted Vermont Country Doctor by D.C Jarvis, M.D.  Apple cider vinegar and honey were at the core of his approach to natural medicine.  His research often involved spending time with local farmers and observing animals, both on the farm and in the wild.  One of his farmer buddies had a herd of cows that frequently experienced miscarriages.  Adding apple cider vinegar to their feed resulted in an increase of calves on the farm and for me, ACV twice a day resulted in a beautiful baby girl.  Frankly I think I got the better end of the deal.  Jarvis concluded that the ACV thinned the blood and improved circulation.  That could be true, but back in the fifties when Jarvis was doing his research we didn’t know about the micro biome. 

Old Meets New.  What the Research Is Saying Today

Apple cider vinegar contains pre-biotics.  Pro-biotics are symbiotic organisms, bacteria that live on our skin and in our bodies and are essential to our health and well being.  Pre-biotics are carbohydrates that can’t be digested by the human body.  They are food for pro-biotics. 

Many celiacs, me included find pro-biotics helpful in reducing bloating and improving bowel function.  In his book, “An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Auto-Immune Diseases”,   Moses Velasquez-Manoff reports on research into celiac treatment with pro-biotics, suggesting that people with celiac disease may tolerate gluten better if the micro biome is improved.  Even celiac.com references pro-biotics as supportive in improving gut health.  So...if pro-biotics support health in celiac patients, and pre-biotics support health in pro-biotics...well I think you know where this is going.

I'll Take Mine Straight Up Please

Well, Not for me.  Some people take their ACV neat from a spoon or a shot glass.  I did my share of shooters in my younger days but that’s just a bit sour for me.  My routine, the one that I hold responsible for the birth of my daughter and the one I’ve recently returned to involves 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and two teaspoons of honey in water twice a day.  

Use boiling water from the kettle and you have a nice soothing “tea”.  Use cold water and it’s just a pleasant, health enhancing cold drink.  I enjoy both depending on the mood I’m in.  It may be a bit of an acquired taste, but give it a chance. The honey makes the apple cider vinegar more palatable and according to Dr. Jarvis it contains a host of trace minerals that promote overall heath.  And if that’s not cool enough, there is some evidence that honey is also a pre-biotic.  So you’re boosting the pre-biotic effect of your ACV by adding it to a little twice daily honey cocktail.

The alcohol metaphor is a bit fun and silly, but on a more serious and unrelated to celiac disease note, Dr. Jarvis also treated alcoholics with ACV and honey.  He suggests that the acidic affects on the blood and getting the body into nutritional balance reduced the craving for alcohol.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Cooking

Your twice daily cocktail isn't the only opportunity to get a little ACV into your diet.  Acid is a foundational component in flavouring most foods and sauces.  That’s why ingredients like lemon  or lime juice, various vinegars, wines, ports, sherries...show up so often in your recipe book.  ACV has it’s place there too.  It has a very strong flavour so it’s appropriate for foods that have very robust flavours themselves.  It goes especially wonderfully with pork.

   Add a tablespoonful to your braising liquid if you’re cooking a pork shoulder or ribs or a cottage roll.  A little bit to finish off your pulled pork adds a nice zing.   Just a touch in the sauce for your meatballs is wonderful.  Make a salad with sliced apples and add a spoonful of acv to the dressing.  Use your imagination.  I suggest going a bit easy at first though until you are used to flavouring with ACV.  Like I mentioned, it’s a very strong flavour and can overpower your dish if you’re not careful.

So Is Apple Cider Vinegar For YOU?

There aren’t many things I recommend for everyone, unreservedly but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say yes.  YES!

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