Fermented foods are great for your gut health. They're full of probiotics, the good (sometimes called "living") bacteria that help maintain a healthy digestive system. They may even treat ailments like high blood pressure, anxiety, eczema, high cholesterol, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and more.

About a decade ago, many people added more probiotics to their diets by taking a probiotic pill or eating yogurt with live cultures. But fermented foods and DIY fermenting have entered the mainstream food world, and pills and yogurt now share shelf space at health food stores with pickled fruits and vegetables, along with fermented drinks like kanji, kombucha and kefir.

The latest fermented drink people are downing is vinegar. Drinking vinegar is different from simply pouring it in a glass and drinking it straight. These are beverages made from vinegar — often raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar — with sugar, water and fruits or vegetables added for additional flavor.

Store-bought vs DIY drinking vinegars

Sugar Store-bought drinking vinegars may have more sugar than you want in your drinking vinegar. (Photo: sumire8/Shutterstock)

You can walk into just about any grocery store and buy drinking vinegar, but the ingredients in those commercial drinking vinegars may be more than you want or need, particularly when it comes to sugar. One serving of some bottled drinking vinegars may contain half of the amount of sugar the American Heart Association recommends for women each day. So, while your gut will get some good probiotics, you'll also be setting yourself up to consume an unhealthy amount of sugar.

Fortunately, making drinking vinegar at home is simple, and when you do it yourself, you can control the amount of sweetener you add, whether that sweetener is honey, maple syrup or sugar. This video shows how easy and quick it is to combine raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, honey, water and lemon to make drinking vinegar. And the advice in the video to drink it through a straw is worth heeding because vinegar can be tough on your teeth.


Another way to create your own drinking vinegar is to make a fruit shrub syrup, making sure to use raw, unfiltered vinegar and using the cold shrub method instead of the heated method. Add some shrub to sparkling water for an effervescent shot of probiotics.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.