My sister handed me the glass containing the mix: a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. She didn’t want a partner in crime so much as somebody with whom to share the pain.
“This looks like dirty toilet water.”
My dad sent nearly everybody in our family copies of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar book. The book praises the health benefits of their apple cider vinegar. Their ACV has the mother, a cloudy substance that you can see floating around in the bottle. Drink a mix of water and a teaspoon or two of this stuff three times a day and they say you’ll feel great. Muscle pains will go away. Your complexion will become clearer. You’ll lose weight. You’ll poop better. Clint Eastwood does it. Katy Perry does it.
I drink the dirty toilet water. The first glass goes down tough, but after the first day you should probably stop being a baby about it. It’s not so bad. It’s like drinking the broth from a bowl of hot and sour soup.
It’s weird that this kind of stuff is called alternative medicine. If there’s truth in their marketing1 apple cider vinegar was used by Hippocrates to relieve ailments. Today you might see a doctor eager to prescribe something to help you with your irritable bowel syndrome, clear up your complexion, or treat any kind of body trouble. But the alternative to that is to eat well and maybe have a few teaspoons of vinegar each day.
Still, natural and whole food products make me suspicious when the companies claim such incredible benefits. On the other hand, it was Thomas Edison who said “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” This was about a hundred years ago and if you’re subjected to pharmaceutical marketing you’d be right to think we don’t yet live in Edison’s future.
I don’t know the science behind the apple cider vinegar cocktail. The book says it has something to do with Ph levels in your body. You can wash your windows with vinegar, they write, so why not your internal organs?
That’s when detoxification comes up. Health nuts claim that it’s important to detoxify. In the Bragg book they claim that allergies aren’t simply a reaction to irritants from your surroundings, but your body trying to detoxify. All the times in the spring when my eyes get really red, that’s not my body’s reaction to pollen, apparently. It’s my body trying to detoxify. My allergy to cat dander? That’s just detoxification.
I’m not sure if that makes sense.
It also says you should fast once in a while to give your digestive tract a break and let it detoxify. To me this process sounds suspicious, but from what I’ve read people swear by it. Some use it for weight loss, others because they truly believe in detoxifying their bodies. Science groups disagree, saying that the human body can reach homeostasis on its own.2
But under what conditions can the body reach homeostasis? Surely not when it’s under a constant onslaught of inflammation from what’s being put in it.
A recent article in the Atlantic3 explored the same suspicions. Is what we call alternative medicine today built upon a marketplace of the gullible…people who’ll try just about anything in their quest to live forever, or at least for a healthier lifestyle?
It’s in this way that the alternative health lifestyle can seem as bad as the western approach of endless prescriptions…perhaps not health-wise, but in deceptiveness. What something like apple cider vinegar has going for it is that it only costs about $5 for a bottle that can last you more than a month, but something like a box of Claritin costs $20 and lasts maybe a week. How much is there to be gained through deception? That’s the benefit of the doubt.
Incredibly beneficial or not, I’ve acquired a taste for the ACV cocktail, drinking it between one and three times a day. I don’t know if I’ve gotten all the health benefits solely because I’ve been drinking it, but I have found that the taste of it is effective in suppressing my appetite and my sweet tooth. You won’t want anything with sugar after apple cider vinegar has touched your tongue.
And I feel all right, I guess.