What is the mother?Apple cider vinegar is made through a two-step process. First, yeast is added to apple juice to break down the sugars and turn them into alcohol. Then, bacteria is added, which converts the alcohol into acetic acid. This bacteria is what is known as the mother, because it is the catalyst that gives rise to the vinegar. Many store-bought apple cider vinegars have the mother removed because it gives the vinegar a cloudy appearance, which can lead some customers to believe that the product has gone bad. But this is not the case. In fact, the mother is the healthiest part.
Why is the mother so important?The mother consists of dozens of strains of good bacteria, which we often refer to as probiotics. These help keep your digestive system running smoothly, so that you can get the most out of the food that you consume. Probiotics are also great for the immune system, the majority of which is located in your digestive tract. The good bacteria in your digestive system compete for resources with the bad bacteria, and maintaining a healthy balance can help prevent you from getting sick.
The mother also contains enzymes, which are essential for breaking down foods so that your body can make use of the nutrients you consume. Most raw foods contain enzymes, but the enzymes are often destroyed by cooking; adding in a supplementary source like apple cider vinegar is a great way to make up for this.
Consuming raw apple cider vinegar on a daily basis has been shown to be useful in maintaining normal body processes, including healthy blood sugar levels. It works with your body to increase insulin sensitivity and to ensure a slow, steady release of sugar into the bloodstream.1 Studies have also suggested that apple cider vinegar may help boost feelings of satiety, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, and possibly helping you to lose weight.2
Is pasteurized apple cider vinegar useless?Not necessarily. It all depends on what you’re using it for. Pasteurized apple cider vinegar – that is, apple cider vinegar without the mother – can still be used in certain cases. It still contains acetic acid, which is known for its antimicrobial properties, so it’s a great choice for a household cleaner. It can also be used topically in things like hair rinses. But if you’re looking for apple cider vinegar that you can ingest, you’re better off going with a product that still has the mother, which provides the most health benefits.
What should I look for when purchasing apple cider vinegar?Depending on the type of bottle it’s in, you may be able to tell if the apple cider vinegar contains the mother just by looking at it. It often has a cloudy appearance, or you may see stringy blobs suspended in the liquid. If you can’t tell, look at the label to see whether the vinegar still contains the mother. If it says it has been pasteurized, then the mother has been removed.
It’s always best to purchase organic apple cider vinegar whenever possible. Not only is it free from the pesticides used on non-organic apples, it often contains more beneficial bacteria. One study found that organic apple cider vinegar contained 96 strains of beneficial bacteria, compared to just 72 found in non-organic apple cider vinegar.3
How do I use apple cider vinegar with the mother?You should always dilute apple cider vinegar in water or some other liquid before drinking. Otherwise, the acidity could end up dissolving your tooth enamel or burning your throat. There is no ideal amount that you should take each day. Many people take anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon per day, but you shouldn’t exceed two tablespoons per day. When you’re dealing with a product that still contains the mother, you should always shake the bottle thoroughly before use. The mother has a tendency to settle to the bottom, and shaking the container ensures that you get some of it in every serving.
If you don’t want to drink plain apple cider vinegar, you should check out Enzymedica’s Apple Cider Vinegar capsules. They are made from raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar that still contains the mother, so you can get all of the same health benefits in a convenient, easy-to-consume capsule.
1 Johnston, C.S., Kim, C.M., Buller, A.J. (2004). Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 27(1): 281-282.
2 Johnston, C.S., Buller, A.J. (2005). Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to restore postprandial glycemia. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 105(12):1939-42.
3 Stornik, A., Skok, B., Trcek, J. (2016, Mar.). “Comparison of Cultivable Acetic Acid Bacterial Microbiota in Organic and Conventional Apple Cider Vinegar.” Food Technology and Biotechnology. 54(1):113-119.