Have you been hearing about apple cider vinegar and wondering if it can help you?
Apple cider vinegar and celiac disease: 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.
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. 1
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. 2 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.
There is no cure for celiac disease, and the only treatment is a strict gluten free diet. Yet many people with celiac disease find that, even with the elimination of gluten, some symptoms persist. The rumbly tummy, the less than optimal bathroom experience...this is where apple cider vinegar can help.
This is a bit of a long personal story, but I think it illustrates what a lengthy and meandering road to diagnosis many folks with celiac endure. I know there are many women, many couples, who can relate. If this doesn't interest you, you can skip to the practical stuff.
It was the early 1990's, 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.
I've since learned that untreated celiac disease can cause miscarriage and other pregnancy issues.4 At the time though, I had no idea.
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 farm5 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 or probiotics or pre-biotics, so he may have come up with the best explanation he could for the time.
While I was going through these many miscarriages and many many doctor's appointments, I was made aware of a study that was being conducted through Toronto General Hospital. They were studying the affects of low dose aspirin on women you had experienced multiple, unexplained miscarriages. The idea was that something was restricting proper blood flow to the fetus and aspirin, having blood thinning properties, might be able to help. I went for the interview and the researcher told me that, at that time they had 24 patients in the study and so far all of them were doing well. I declined to participate in the study. I wasn't comfortable taking any drug while pregnant and preferred a more natural approach. But I think you're noticing like I did that there is some similarity between D.C. Jarvis's blood thinning story and the hypothesis of this study. I've tried since to look for this study to see what the final results were but have not been able to find anything.
So does apple cider vinegar prevent miscarriage? I don't really know, but I did have a positive experience. It would have been better of course if I'd been tested for celiac disease and started on the road to recovery 17 years earlier than I did.
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.
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.
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.
Apple Cider Vinegar does not cure celiac disease and it may or may not help to prevent miscarriage. Yet, I think you'll agree that there is some good evidence, with expert backing, that ACV can support your gut health, and along with your gluten=free diet, it can help you to manage some of the lingering symptoms of celiac disease.
There aren’t many things I recommend for everyone, unreservedly but when it comes to apple cider vinegar and celiac disease, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say yes. YES!
1. Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, July 27). Prebiotic (nutrition). Wikipedia. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prebiotic_(nutrition).
2. Velasquez-Manoff, M. (2013). An epidemic of absence: A new way of understanding allergies and autoimmune diseases. Scribner.
3. dappy, G., cgilmour, G., Maddy, G., sc'Que?, G., Stella, G., & df, G. (2019, June 10). Role of probiotics in improving gut health in celiac disease. Celiac.com. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.celiac.com/articles.html/role-of-probiotics-in-improving-gut-health-in-celiac-disease-r3027/.
4. R., G. P. H., & Jones, R. (2020). Celiac disease: A hidden epidemic. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.
5. Jarvis, D. C. (1995). Folk medicine: A doctor's guide to good health. Carnell.