Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Kidneys?

Published on: 05/23/2024

You’ve probably been hearing about apple cider vinegar (ACV) for some time.  I certainly have. The first time I ever became aware of its potential health benefits was about 10 years ago when I was talking with an acquaintance. I noticed that her hair was shiny and her skin was radiant!  She mentioned that she had been drinking ACV every day and thought that might have something to do with it.  At the time, I didn’t put a lot of stock in things like that.  Back then, the published evidence was the only evidence there was as far as I was concerned, and I couldn’t imagine there being evidence supporting the use of ACV for skin and hair. Today, I put more stock in the anecdotal evidence than I used to, but I still like to review the published evidence too. Is there any evidence that apple cider vinegar is good for kidneys?

There’s actually quite a bit of published evidence for the efficacy of ACV for many health conditions, and ample anecdotal evidence too. But very little specifically related to chronic kidney disease. However, using ACV can still be beneficial for people with CKD in an indirect way.

There is good evidence that ACV has an effect on blood sugar levels, lipid levels, weight loss, uric acid, and kidney stone formation. If you have CKD, this may be significant for you because it could be a simple way of improving some health conditions that contribute to kidney function decline.

Blood Sugar Control

Apple cider vinegar has been studied for its potential effects on blood sugar levels, particularly in individuals with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. 

It works by slowing gastric emptying and improving insulin sensitivity. ACV may slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach, which can lead to a slower absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Some studies suggest that ACV can improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, allowing cells to better absorb glucose from the blood.

Blood Lipid Levels

Apple cider vinegar has also shown potential in improving blood lipid levels, particularly by lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides while potentially increasing HDL cholesterol. 

It does this because of acetic acid, which is the primary active component in ACV. It is believed to influence lipid metabolism by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver and enhancing bile acid excretion. ACV also has antioxidant properties, which may help reduce oxidative stress, a factor involved in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Weight Loss

Apple cider vinegar may aid in weight loss by suppressing appetite, slowing gastric emptying, and improving blood sugar regulation. This is great news in my opinion! 

How does it do this? The acetic acid in ACV can increase feelings of fullness, which can help people eat fewer calories. ACV slows the rate at which food leaves the stomach, which can prolong the feeling of fullness after meals. By improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels, ACV may reduce cravings and the likelihood of overeating.

Also, some animal studies suggest that ACV can boost metabolism and increase the rate at which the body burns fat.

Uric Acid Levels

ACV, although acidic in nature, has an alkalizing effect on the body when metabolized. This can help create a less favorable environment for uric acid crystallization. 

The acetic acid and antioxidants in ACV have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation associated with high uric acid levels, which can help prevent gout. This can have a direct impact on enhancing kidney function.

Preventing Kidney Stones

Some anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies suggest that the acetic acid in ACV can help break down kidney stones, making them easier to pass. Also, by alkalizing the urine and improving overall kidney function, ACV may help prevent the formation of new kidney stones.

Why does this matter for you?

Let’s take a look at each of the above potential benefits of ACV use and relate them to the impact they have on CKD.

Blood Sugar Control

High blood sugar significantly impacts chronic kidney disease (CKD), especially in individuals with diabetes. Persistent high blood sugar levels can cause glomerular hyperfiltration, where the kidneys filter too much blood, leading to damage over time. Elevated blood sugar also promotes the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which damage kidney tissues through inflammation and fibrosis, and increases oxidative stress, further harming the blood vessels in the kidneys. This damage often leads to diabetic nephropathy, a specific type of kidney disease characterized by glomerular damage and albuminuria, where protein leaks into the urine, indicating kidney damage. Additionally, high blood sugar can contribute to high blood pressure, exacerbating kidney damage and creating a cycle of worsening kidney function. Over time, these effects cause a decline in glomerular filtration rate (GFR), reducing the kidneys’ filtering ability, and can progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), where dialysis or a kidney transplant become necessary. Managing blood sugar is crucial in preventing the progression of CKD.

Blood Lipid Levels

Lipid levels significantly impact chronic kidney disease (CKD) through mechanisms that exacerbate kidney damage and accelerate disease progression. Elevated lipid levels, particularly high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, contribute to the development and worsening of CKD by promoting atherosclerosis, which reduces blood flow and oxygen to the kidneys, impairing their function. Dyslipidemia can cause direct damage to the glomeruli, leading to proteinuria, which both indicates and promotes kidney disease progression. High lipid levels also promote inflammation and oxidative stress, key factors in kidney damage, leading to fibrosis and a decline in kidney function. Additionally, elevated lipid levels can impair endothelial function, contributing to hypertension and further kidney damage.

This dyslipidemia is associated with a faster progression of CKD, as patients with high lipid levels often experience a more rapid decline in glomerular filtration rate (GFR), indicating worsening kidney function. CKD patients with elevated lipid levels are also at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), a leading cause of morbidity and mortality for people with CKD. . Managing lipid levels is crucial to reducing this risk and the associated complications and comorbidities, such as hypertension and diabetes, which further exacerbate kidney damage.

Weight Loss

Weight loss positively impacts chronic kidney disease by alleviating some of the strain on the kidneys and improving overall health. Excess weight, particularly obesity, is associated with a higher risk of developing CKD and accelerating its progression. When individuals with CKD lose weight, they often experience improvements in blood pressure, which is crucial since hypertension is a major factor that exacerbates kidney damage. Weight loss can also lead to better glucose control in diabetic patients, thereby reducing the harmful effects of high blood sugar on kidney function. Additionally, losing weight can improve lipid profiles, decreasing levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and subsequent kidney damage. Furthermore, weight loss can decrease the production of inflammatory markers and oxidative stress, both of which are involved in the progression of CKD. By addressing these risk factors, weight loss can slow the decline in kidney function, improve overall cardiovascular health, and enhance the quality of life for individuals with CKD.

Uric Acid Levels

High uric acid levels can significantly impact chronic kidney disease by contributing to the development and progression of kidney damage. When uric acid levels are elevated, crystals may form in the kidneys, leading to conditions such as kidney stones or crystalline nephropathy. These crystals can obstruct the flow of urine, impair kidney function, and cause inflammation and tissue damage. Furthermore, high uric acid levels are associated with the development of hypertension and metabolic syndrome, both of which are risk factors for CKD. Additionally, uric acid may directly contribute to kidney injury by promoting inflammation, oxidative stress, and fibrosis. Moreover, high uric acid levels are linked to the progression of diabetic kidney disease, as hyperuricemia can exacerbate insulin resistance and kidney damage in individuals with diabetes. Managing uric acid levels through dietary changes, medications, and lifestyle modifications is important in preventing kidney damage and slowing the progression of CKD, especially in individuals at risk or with existing kidney disease.

Preventing Kidney Stones

Kidney stone prevention can help improve or preserve kidney function. Kidney stones can impair kidney function by causing obstruction, inflammation, and tissue damage. When stones obstruct the flow of urine, they can lead to pressure buildup in the kidneys and urinary tract, potentially causing further damage to kidney tissues. Additionally, kidney stones can cause recurrent urinary tract infections, which may also contribute to kidney damage over time. By preventing the formation of kidney stones, you can reduce the risk of complications that could negatively impact kidney function.

If you have diabetes or insulin resistance, elevated lipid levels, need to lose some weight, have high uric acid levels, or have a history of kidney stones, you may want to consider using apple cider vinegar as one method of improving or controlling those conditions.  

Here’s how:

Combine 1-2 tablespoons ACV with 8 oz water first thing in the morning or right before meals.  Drink it with a straw to prevent your lips from cracking. Super simple and not all that bad tasting. If you can’t handle the taste, add a few drops of liquid stevia to sweeten it up a bit.

Happy healthy drinking!

Want to find out how I can help you?

If you are ready to talk about how I can help you gain clarity in what to eat, overcome food fears, and stay off dialysis, schedule a call or reply to this email. I would love to hear from you!

References:

Hadi, A. (2021, June 29). The effect of apple cider vinegar on lipid profiles and glycemic parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. NIH National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8243436/

Jafarirad, S. (2023, November 13). The improvement effect of apple cider vinegar as a functional food on anthropometric indices, blood glucose and lipid profile in diabetic patients: a randomized controlled clinical trial. NIH National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10679383/

Khalid, A. (2022, Sept 30). Effect of the Apple Cider Vinegar on Weight Management, Blood Glucose Levels and Lipid Profile among Obese/Overweight Adults: a Randomised Control Trial. Pakistan journal of medical and health sciences. https://pjmhsonline.com/index.php/pjmhs/article/view/1980

Khawar, M. (2023 January). Investigation of medicinal properties and chemical and biochemical characterization of apple cider vinegar for anti-hyperuricemia in female human subjects in controlled randomized trial. Researchgate.net. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/374635387_Investigation_of_medicinal_properties_and_chemical_and_biochemical_characterization_of_apple_cider_vinegar_for_anti-hyperuricemia_in_female_human_subjects_in_controlled_randomized_trial

Zhu, Wei. (2019, June 12). Dietary vinegar prevents kidney stone recurrence via epigenetic regulations. The Lancet. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(19)30379-2/fulltext

2 Comments

  1. Michele Flocken

    Thank you! I’ll get some today. I’ll 🤞that it, along with the Tart Cherry juice I’ve been drinking, helps lower my Uric Acid level. 😁Michele

    Reply
    • Heather Smith

      Hi Michele, let me know how it goes!

      Reply

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Meet Heather
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Although I’ve been a dietitian for more than 20 years, it’s the past few years that have convinced me to take control of my own health by changing the way I eat. So many chronic illnesses can be corrected or prevented through good nutrition. I am thankful to have the opportunity to walk with people in my community, Beaufort, SC and beyond, through their own journeys as they reclaim their health.

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