Why Some Doctors Warn Against The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet - Exclusive

We all have that one friend or family member who swears by the apple cider vinegar diet. The claims about the regimen are convincing, but, much like everything else that promises a quick and easy fix, the reality may make you think twice before picking up a bottle of vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar has a long history of being used for its alleged healing properties, Bubu Banini, M.D., a hematologist and obesity medicine physician at Yale Medicine, explained to Forbes. She says apple cider vinegar use dates back to 3300 B.C. when it was used to disinfect wounds, ease sore throats, and help improve strength and athletic ability.

Today, people believe drinking or taking an apple cider vinegar supplement will decrease your appetite and help you burn fat, per Mayo Clinic. Despite its popularity, though, there is little evidence backing up these claims.

When we asked Dr. Stacey Rosenfeld, founder of Gatewell Therapy Center, about fad diets like the apple cider vinegar diet, she told us that, much like the five-bite diet, this isn't a safe or healthy option for losing weight. "Diets create physical and psychological deprivation," she said. "They might 'work' for a while, but they're bound to fail, potentially leaving lasting eating issues in their wake."

Other experts agree that the apple cider vinegar diet isn't a good idea.

There's little evidence that the apple cider vinegar diet works

If there are actual benefits to the apple cider vinegar diet, science hasn't discovered them yet. Currently, only a handful of studies have examined the effects of apple cider vinegar on humans or animals.

The most commonly cited study about the diet was held in 2009. In the testing group of 175 people, those who took apple cider vinegar every day for three months lost some weight, a range of two to four pounds. 

Another found that subjects who drank 25 grams of apple cider vinegar reported a diminished appetite – alongside feeling nauseous. A study from 2018 showed similar results: of the 39 people who went on a restricted-calorie diet for 12 weeks, those who took apple cider vinegar lost more weight.

Not only are the results of studies on apple cider vinegar diets inconsistent, they also lack diversity in subjects (via Mayo Clinic).

However, there still may be some benefits of taking apple cider vinegar, per Robert H. Shmerling, M.D., senior faculty editor of Harvard Health Publishing. As he points out, there have been promising studies that apple cider vinegar may prevent blood sugar spikes in people who are both prediabetic or have type 2 diabetes.

Experts say these are the risks of the apple cider vinegar diet

Overall, the apple cider vinegar diet isn't terribly dangerous in terms of physical side effects. Dr. Bubu Banini told Forbes that short-term use is low-risk, especially if you're not drinking large amounts of straight vinegar. 

"Due to its acidity, drinking apple cider vinegar undiluted is not recommended, as it may destroy tooth enamel," says Dr. Banini, adding that, because of its high acidity, drinking apple cider can also irritate your throat.

Some studies have revealed why you should think twice before drinking apple cider vinegarOne case report showed low blood potassium and bone loss after long-term, high-volume use of apple cider vinegar. 

Another case report found that a woman sustained burns as well as pain and difficulty swallowing for at least six months after an apple cider vinegar tablet got stuck in her throat. Other studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can cause skin erosions and burns when used for mole removal and treating infections.

Apple cider vinegar may also interact with some medications, per Healthline. Anyone taking diabetes medication, diuretics, Digoxin, or Lanoxin should check with their doctor before adding apple cider vinegar to their diet since it can affect insulin and potassium levels.