Apple Cider Vinegar verses Cultured Vegetables. A recurring question my patients ask.

Apple Cider Vinegar, specifically Bragg’s brand, can be beneficial when people don’t have enough stomach acid to digest their food. Frequently the stomach issues people take anti-acids for are caused by not having enough acid in their stomachs. Anti-acids can inhibit the ability to digest food, creating additional health problems as the ability to assimilate nutrients is blocked. At mealtime drinking a glass of water with a splash of apple cider vinegar mixed in can help with some, though not all, digestive problems.

Apple cider vinegar can also help prevent and treat colds and flu, or allergies. With stronger stomach acid the body can more readily destroy viruses, pollens or other antigens encapsulated by mucous and transported to the stomach. If you don’t have enough stomach acid to destroy these antigens, they can bypass the stomach and travel to the small intestines, pass through the intestinal wall and be carried by the blood stream throughout the body. Chills, fever, body aches, headaches, rashes, diarrhea, or vomiting are signs of your body trying to expel patho-gens. Inflammation, swollen eyes for example, is the body’s attempt at slowing down the move-ment of pathogens in the body until the white blood cells can rush to the sight and eradicate them. So apple cider vinegar can help prevent viruses, bacteria, pollens, dust, mold, etc. from getting past the stomach and wreaking havoc through out your body. If vinegar hurts your stom-ach, it means you need some help restoring your gut lining. If vinegar causes burning or pres-sure in your lower abdomen, the bladder area, it is an indication of interstitial cystitis, inflamma-tion and irritation of the bladder. For either of these issues get in to see me.

Cultured, also called Fermented, Vegetables are beneficial when they’re the type that’s been fermented in a salt water brine. The active culture created during the fermentation process feeds the positive bacteria in our small intestines. Eating a heaping tablespoon of cultured vegetables with each meal is more effective and less expensive than probiotics. You can mix them in your food or strew them over food for flavoring. You can also purchase the brine to drink. Since the brine needs to be refrigerated you can mix it with warm water to make it more easily assimilated. Combining the cultured vegetables with warm food heats them up, while cooking them destroys the active culture that negates the medicinal properties. But consuming any cold food, right out of the refrigerator, can cause digestive problems. So warming the cultured vegetables by adding them to warm food, or the brine with warm water, is appropriate.

To make cultured vegetables, raw vegetables are placed in salt water and left at room tempera-ture until they start to ferment. How many days it takes depends on how much they’ve been cut up or pounded, the temperature of the room, and how tangy you want them to taste. Refrigera-tion stops the fermentation process.

If you left your jar of cultured vegetables out of the refrig-erator, opened, at room temperature, the fermentation process would continue, since the culture is still alive. This process creates gas. So placing anything that’s actively fermenting, in a closed container at room temperature, will make the container explode. Therefore, when you buy cul-tured vegetables, from necessity, they’re in the refrigerated section of the store.

Cultured vegetables can benefit everyone, but should be minimized or avoided if people have salt sensitivities related to blood pressure. This is evident if there’s an increase in blood pres-sure after eating the cultured vegetables or drinking the brine. Sea salt contains all the trace minerals in the human body therefore is more beneficial than other salt. So look for the cultured vegetables made with sea salt.

Apple cider vinegar is on the non-refrigerated shelves. Apple cider vinegar does not have the active culture beneficial to our gut flora. Anything in glass or cans that isn’t refrigerated has had all the live enzymes (and most of their nutrients) cooked out of them so they won’t ferment, spoil, or explode and can be stored with no refrigeration for extended periods of time. So sauer-kraut made in a brine and found in the refrigerated section is beneficial. Canned sauerkraut, found on the grocery shelves is made with vinegar and sugar and can harm our gut flora.

Apple cider vinegar is not good for everyone to take on a regular basis. Cultured vegetables are good for most people to consume three times per day.

So, back to the question: Apple cider vinegar is good for increasing acidity in the stomach, which can naturally decline as we age. It’s beneficial for some cases of digestion, and for colds, flu or allergies.

Cultured vegetables increase our gut flora, which improves our digestive system, immune sys-tem, mood and mental acuity.

They are both beneficial but not interchangeable.        

Health & Happiness,   

Nancy Burton, L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist)
For help with your health issues call 541-646-0134 for an appointment.