If you've read anything about alternative health this year, you know all about the purported benefits of apple cider vinegar. It supposedly does everything from cure acne to polish silver, and women are chugging it faster than a Gryffindor chugs polyjuice potion. The most popular variety is the raw, unpasteurized version. However, is it always a safe choice, even if it is natural? What if you're pregnant and trying to be as healthy as possible? Is it safe to drink apple cider vinegar while pregnant, or should you put the bottle down?
According to Foodsafety.gov, drinking pasteurized apple cider vinegar, diluted, is safe while pregnant. However, the popular unpasteurized versions containing the mother haven't gone through a thorough heating process designed to kill any harmful bacteria which may live in the liquid. Which means they are not safe because food borne illness is particularly dangerous to vulnerable populations like pregnant women and their unborn children.
Reading up on the alleged benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV), I learned that the majority of the people who tout the benefits of the ACV are strictly talking about raw ACV. The way they talk about your typical store-brand ACV from Target is akin to drinking salad dressing, which I think is almost acceptable if it's the salad dressing from the Olive Garden.
That doesn't mean there aren't any risks to drinking pasteurized apple cider. First, there's a dearth of research available when it comes to the medicinal consumption of vinegar in any form, let alone the effects on a pregnant woman. Therefore, it's hard to combat any pseudoscientific argument given by so many people involved in the hyping and selling of ACV as more than mere flavor base. While they are no doubt coming soon, given the cultural tide for the spoiled juice, it's not there, yet, so we simply cannot be sure.
Beyond that, ACV is an acid, and a fairly strong one. Anyone who's ever made the mistake of eating half a pineapple or a few tomatoes in one sitting knows how acid in foods attacks the mucosal membranes inside your mouth. Imagine what happens when you drink vinegar. According to Healthline, it comes with a myriad of complications, like slowed bowel activity, heartburn, and possible bone loss due to the leeching of potassium from the bones, instigated by the ingestion of the vinegar. True, that's an extreme example, but it's no less true for its terrifying accusation.
There's also something insidious about vinegar and drinking it that is already a problem for many women during pregnancy. According to Healthline, it can cause the erosion of tooth enamel due to its acidity. If you have experienced heavy morning sickness with a lot of vomiting during your pregnancy, then you are already at risk for the loss of dental enamel and subsequent tooth decay, noted RDH. Why compound that loss by drinking what is essentially salad-smelling snake oil? It is the same thing for women who suffered from acid reflux during their pregnancy. The gastric acids that churn in your gut and come up into your throat and mouth when the gastric sphincter decides to malfunction, are already putting your teeth on a collision course with decay and pricey toothpastes. As someone who has lived through more dental surgery than I care to think about, I will tell you that vinegar is not worth it.
If you're still unconvinced, talk to your OB-GYN or midwife about your desire to chug the popular probiotic. If they give you the go-ahead, and you are really into it, I'm sure there's a way to make it taste a little less like regret, right?
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