Consider ACV as a weight-loss and digestive aid

Outside the supplement aisles at your nearest Dis-Chem, there are numerous natural products that could help you achieve your health and conditioning goals, with apple cider vinegar, or ACV often touted for its numerous potential benefits.

ACV is produced using a fermentation process, with yeast used to convert the natural sugars in apples into alcohol. Bacteria then ferment the alcohol into acetic acid, which is the main active compound in ACV.

Some ACV products also contain ‘mother of vinegar’, a natural cellulose produced by the bacteria and yeast responsible for turning the alcohol into vinegar, which can give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance.

Enhanced glucose response

Numerous studies show that acetic acid can increase insulin sensitivity and lower the blood sugar response during and after meals, and also lowers fasting glucose levels.

While most studies used small sample sizes, the body of research, which includes animal and human trials, suggest that ACV offers potential benefits to those suffering from pre-diabetes or diabetes, and those looking to support weight loss.

One of the leading researchers on the health benefits of vinegar is Dr Carol Johnston, a professor and the associate director of the Nutrition Program at Arizona State University. In one study¹, Dr Carol Johnston and a colleague found that taking two tablespoons of ACV before bed lowered the waking blood sugar levels of the 11 type-2 diabetic participants in the study by between 4-6%.

In another study², Dr Johnston and her team gave two groups of participants – one group included people with insulin resistance and the other consisted of otherwise healthy individuals – a 2:1 mix of water and ACV. Drinking this mixture lowered after-meal blood sugar levels (they ate a meal with a high carb content) by 19-34% in those with insulin resistance.

A more recent study³ released in 2024 showed significant weight and fat loss in participants who consumed daily doses of ACV for 12 weeks, with all participants who drank ACV showing a decline in waist and hip circumference and body mass index (BMI), regardless of the dosage (5ml, 10ml or 15ml per day).

The acetic acid factor

The main reason offered for this effect is that acetic acid suppresses disaccharidase activity and raises glucose-6-phosphate concentrations in skeletal muscle.

This was confirmed in a study ⁴ performed at Tokyo University in Japan, which determined that the acetic acid found in vinegar inhibits the activity of carbohydrate-digesting enzymes, including sucrase, maltase, lactase and amylase.

This inhibition allows select sugars and starches to bypass the digestion process, which means they have less impact on blood sugar levels.

Diet and weight loss support

Another study⁵ determined that “vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects.”

The researchers found that body weight, BMI, visceral fat, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels were lower in the two groups that drank a vinegar solution compared with the group that received the placebo (no vinegar). They concluded that “daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.”

Several other human studies suggest that vinegar can increase satiety, which may help reduce total calorie intake to support weight loss. This effect was corroborated in a study⁶ conducted on mice, which found that giving ACV to mice subjected to a high-fat diet reduced lipid levels. The mice also ate less and lost weight, demonstrating the satiating effect of ACV.

Additional health benefits

Studies have revealed a broad range of possible digestive benefits, with ACV able to aid nutrient absorption. One study⁷ showed that drinking acetic acid from vinegar was found to increase good gut bacteria (specifically lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) in mice suffering from ulcerative colitis.

In addition, ACV contains various antioxidants, such as catechins, gallic acid, caffeic and chlorogenic acid. Boosting your antioxidant intake could help to reduce oxidative stress from free radical damage, and gallic acid also seems to have anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.

The acetic acid in the vinegar may also help to lower cholesterol. The 2024 study³ also found that 15ml of ACV a day lowered cholesterol levels among study participants who received the solution.

And ACV is widely used as a traditional medicine, serving as a disinfectant to clean wounds and to treat bacterial infections of the ear, nose and throat. Various online resources also suggest that it can treat fungal infections, acne and warts. This anti-bacterial property also makes it a useful natural preservative.


  1. Andrea M. White, PHD, Carol S. Johnston, PHD. Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes, Diabetes Care, 2007; 30(11):2814–2815. PubMed:17712024.
  2. Carol S. Johnston, PHD, Cindy M. Kim, MS, Amanda J. Buller, MS. Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 2004; 27(1):281–282. PubMed:14694010
  3. Abou-Khalil R, Andary J, El-Hayek E. Apple cider vinegar for weight management in Lebanese adolescents and young adults with overweight and obesity: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2024;e000823. Doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2023-000823 
  4. Ogawa N, Satsu H, Watanabe H, Fukaya M, Tsukamoto Y, Miyamoto Y, Shimizu M. Acetic acid suppresses the increase in disaccharidase activity that occurs during culture of caco-2 cells. J Nutr. 2000 Mar;130(3):507-13. doi: 10.1093/jn/130.3.507. PMID: 10702577.
  5. Tomoo Kondo, Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, Shinobu Ugajin, Takayuki Kaga, Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects, Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, Volume 73, Issue 8, 23 August 2009, Pages 1837–1843,
  6. Beh BK, Mohamad NE, Yeap SK, Ky H, Boo SY, Chua JYH, Tan SW, Ho WY, Sharifuddin SA, Long K, Alitheen NB. Anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effects of synthetic acetic acid vinegar and Nipa vinegar on high-fat-diet-induced obese mice. Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 27;7(1):6664. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-06235-7. PMID: 28751642; PMCID: PMC5532206.
  7. Fengge Shen, Jiaxuan Feng, Xinhui Wang, Zhimin Qi, Xiaochen Shi, Yanan An, Qiaoli Zhang, Chao Wang, Mingyuan Liu, Bo Liu, and Lu Yu. Vinegar Treatment Prevents the Development of Murine Experimental Colitis via Inhibition of Inflammation and Apoptosis. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2016, 64 (5), 1111-1121. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b05415