Is Apple Cider Vinegar A Probiotic? Answer From Experts 2024


Reviewed by Ellie Busby, MS, RDN
is apple cider vinegar a probiotic
Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits. Photo: Nghi Tran

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Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, has been seriously trending for the last few years. Some people drink vinegar water daily, thanks to its purported health benefits. 

You can find posts on social media saying it can do almost anything for your health. For example, aiding weight loss, improving digestion, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and even enhancing skin health. But are these claims true? 

One question currently grabbing everyone’s attention is how ACV affects your gut health. Some say it works as a probiotic, so it’s time to bust the myths and take a splash into the research. 

Is apple cider vinegar a probiotic or is that just another unbacked health claim? Read on to find out.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar A Probiotic?

No, apple cider vinegar is not an official probiotic. However, it might still support gut health through its other compounds.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Really A Probiotic?

ACV has several health benefits, but it’s not officially a probiotic. Probiotic bacteria are live microorganisms[1] offering health benefits when consumed. While ACV can contain live microorganisms, its fermentation process doesn’t necessarily result in probiotic cultures. 

However, that does not mean ACV can’t aid gut health. For example, ACV has antimicrobial agents that work against harmful bacteria, fungi, and yeasts, which may help restore gut balance. 

Specifically, studies have shown that ACV may work to fight harmful intestinal bacteria, such as E. coli and S. aureus.[2] Left unchecked, these bacteria may lead to food poisoning or other infections. It can also help against Candida, a fungus leading to intestinal yeast infections. 

Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar For Digestion

Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar For Digestion
Apple cider vinegar may help with digestive discomfort. Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

The scientific benefits of apple cider vinegar are growing. Now, research specifically into the digestive system benefits is expanding. Here are some of the ways ACV may aid digestion:

Increases Nutrient Bioavailability

The acetic acid in ACV may positively influence digestive enzymes[3] in your gut. This can work to increase the body’s absorption of essential nutrients. That means that ACV might help your body access and use the vitamins and minerals from your meals. 

Alleviates Discomfort

For some, ACV might alleviate bloating and indigestion symptoms.[4] This may be because its antibacterial properties work to manage gut bacteria. A healthy and balanced gut flora is essential for smooth digestion and reduced gas. 

Manages Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is when the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and great discomfort. For some people, ACV might balance stomach acid levels and reduce acid reflux.

ACV may do this by improving acidity levels in the stomach, aiding digestion, and preventing the backflow of acid into the esophagus. However, research in this area is still limited, and more studies are needed. It’s mostly anecdotal, with one recent study showing it may help — but the study also had participants improve lifestyle habits[5] and take other supplements. 

Enhances Fat Digestion

ACV has been associated with losing weight, thanks to its claims that it may reduce fat storage[6] in the body. That means it might help you eat less by feeling fuller earlier than usual. It may also support metabolic health by affecting how fats are metabolized. 

Specifically, ACV might boost the effectiveness of an enzyme responsible for reducing fat and sugar synthesis[7] in the liver. So if you’d like to lose weight, adding ACV might help since it can encourage your body to use its stored fat for energy.

Balances Blood Sugar Levels After Carbs

ACV could help with blood sugar management by inhibiting amylase.[8] Amylase is an enzyme that digests carbohydrates. When it comes to weight management, stable blood sugar levels are key.

 Amylase can even help reduce cravings[9] and overeating. 

About 0.5-2 tablespoons,[8] or 10-30 milliliters of ACV daily, is recommended for blood sugar help.

It’s important to note that research on ACV[10] is still in its developmental stages. More high-quality research is needed to confirm these claims. 

How To Take Apple Cider Vinegar For Gut Health

How To Take Apple Cider Vinegar For Gut Health
It’s important to dilute apple cider vinegar to avoid risks. Photo: New Africa/Shutterstock

If you’re curious about how to take apple cider vinegar, remember to start slow. It’s acidic and can be upsetting to those with a sensitive stomach or teeth. 

To start, add one teaspoon of ACV to 8 ounces of water. If you can handle this amount without negative side effects, slowly increase to one or two tablespoons[11] of ACV. 

You can also add more ACV to your food, such as adding a splash to:

  • Dips.
  • Marinades.
  • Smoothies.
  • Salad dressings.
  • Vegetable juices. 
  • Soups and strews. 
  • Sauces and condiments.

Just be careful not to overdo it. Experiment with different recipes and amounts so it doesn’t overpower your meals and snacks. 

Combine ACV With Healthy Habits

While ACV might sound like a miracle drink, the truth is that total body health rarely relies on one factor alone. To truly boost your health, consider other habits you could add to your routine on top of consuming apple cider vinegar. 

For example, if you’d like to improve your gut health and digestion, these are some areas to focus on:

  • Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Chronic inflammation is linked to obesity[12] and various chronic diseases, including digestion issues.[13] Eating anti-inflammatory foods[14] can reduce inflammation, lowering health risks. Aim to add more whole foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish. 
  • Exercise Regularly: Just as healthy foods can reduce inflammation, so can exercise.[15] It can improve the balance of beneficial gut microbes.
  • Mental Health: There is a direct correlation between mental health and the gut microbiota.[16] The gut-brain axis might work both ways, so working to reduce stress may improve your digestion.[17] 
  • Hydrate: Our bodies are around 55%-60% water,[18] and even a small loss in water can lead to a variety of negative health consequences. About 6-8 cups a day[19] is recommended for most adults, depending on your activity and health status, age, and environment.

Potential Side Effects Of Apple Cider Vinegar

Even though ACV may have its benefits, that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for everyone. Our bodies all react differently, and there are several potential side effects to be aware of, including: 

If you have any health condition or take medication, always speak to your doctor before adding ACV to your regular diet. 


Even though apple cider vinegar is not an official probiotic, it still has many proven health benefits for your gut. It may aid digestion and nutrient absorption, balance gut microbes, and manage intestinal discomfort. 

It’s important to remember that ACV is also very acidic and best consumed in small quantities. About one to two tablespoons per day, diluted in water if drinking it straight, is enough. You can also add it to sauces, soups, and stews for extra flavor. 

In the end, you’ll benefit most from adding ACV along with other healthy habits. This includes exercise, stress management, and eating anti-inflammatory foods. A holistic approach to wellness is best for long-term health. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is apple cider vinegar a prebiotic?

ACV is not officially a prebiotic. However, it may indirectly work as a prebiotic by supporting beneficial gut bacteria.

Is apple cider vinegar considered a fermented food?

Yes, ACV is a result of a fermentation process that converts sugars to alcohol and then acetic acid. Eating fermented foods may be beneficial for gut health.[24]

Does apple cider vinegar clean your intestines?

No single food cleans your intestines. ACV may, however, aid digestion and support overall gut and intestinal health.

Does apple cider vinegar increase gut bacteria?

ACV can help to create a more favorable environment for healthy bacteria to thrive. This is because of its acidic nature. 

+ 24 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Jennifer Olejarz is a certified nutritionist and health counselor specializing in binge and emotional eating, stress management, and mental health. She has almost a decade's worth of experience in the health and wellness field writing health… See More