Good Girl Moonshine & Dental Health: Part 1

Many of us are used to sucking on some type of beverage throughout the day–soda, coffee, fruit juice drinks, etc.  My drink of choice prior to adopting the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) lifestyle was caffeine-free Diet Pepsi.  I would drink 1-2 bottles (24 ounces each) of it per day.  The trouble with many of these drinks is that they are loaded with  things that are not good for you and are off-plan in terms of THM–namely artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose–or high sugar content, or both.  To encourage followers of THM to renounce off-plan beverages like soda and remain hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water, Serene and Pearl have come up with a number of recipes they refer to as sippers.  They are flavored waters of sorts that give those of us who don’t do just plain water something to satisfy that water need throughout the day.

One of the sippers is something known as Good Girl Moonshine (GGMS).  Despite what the name sounds like, it’s a non-alcoholic drink consisting mainly of water and apple cider vinegar (ACV).  New comers to THM see the vinegar in the recipe and often become concerned about the acid’s effect on their teeth.  This is a valid concern, and I wondered just how it compared to other common drinks.  My hypothesis was that GGMS isn’t any worse for your teeth than soda, but I didn’t have any data to back that up.  So, like good homeschooling moms everywhere, I turned it into a science experiment for my kids.

pH Primer

Before we look at the acid level of Good Girl Moonshine in comparison to other common beverages, let’s have a little pH primer science review.  pH values always confuse me, so I want to be sure we’re all on the same page.

The pH measures the acidity/alkalinity of substances on a scale of 0 to 14.  Pure water falls at 7, or neutral, on the scale.  And, generally values from 6-8 are considered neutral.  Now for the confusing part.  pH numbers lower than 7 indicate increasing acidity (I know, seems backward to me too).  A pH number higher than 7 indicates increasing alkalinity.  So, battery acid (very acidic) is a 0, while drain cleaner (very basic or alkaline) is a 14.

pH scale

 

Acids are sour tasting (but don’t go tasting things to determine their acidity–acids are often poisonous).  They also react with bases (or alkaline solutions) to produce water and salts (crystals).  Some conduct electricity and some will react with metals and release hydrogen gas during this reaction.

Alkaline substances or bases taste bitter (again, don’t go putting things in your mouth, it’s dangerous).  They feel slippery when diluted with water (think soap).  Bases can burn skin (again, seems backward to me).

As you can tell, my feeble mind gets all turned around with pH, acids, and bases.  First, there is the number scale.  Seems to me something more acidic should be a higher number and less acidic should be a lower one, but it’s the opposite.  Then, I tend to think of acids as corrosive.  And if acids and bases are opposites that would mean bases are not corrosive.  On an average day when I haven’t been reading about the pH scale for a blog post, I’d probably tell you bleach and drain cleaner are acids because they’re corrosive.  Wrong.  They are both bases.  Fact is, both acids and bases can be corrosive.  Battery acid and bleach are both not something you’d want on your skin.  Bottom line, you can’t (and for safety sake don’t want to) use taste, touch, or smell to identify an acid vs. a base.  About the only way to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a substance is to use litmus paper or an electronic pH meter.

So, now that we’ve all relived junior high science class and have the basic gist of pH, let’s get down to business.

Method

We started out by selecting a variety of common beverages consumed by both followers of THM and the general public.  Please note, several of these are NOT on-plan for THM (noted with an *).  The off-plan ones were included for reference, to put things in perspective, if you will.

Mamas will also notice that we did not test Singing Canary.  The reason we were unable to test that was lack of ingredients to make it and the significant amount of time needed in preparation.  I would imagine that it would be more, possibly significantly more, acidic than GGMS due to the lemon juice being more acidic than ACV.

The recipes for GGMS and Shrinker were made exactly according the the recipes found in the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.  We used the maximum amount when ingredients were listed with a range (i.e. when 1-2 tablespoons of ACV was specified, we used 2 tablespoons).  For the water in both the GGMS and Shrinker we used distilled water to help ensure it was as neutral as possible.  The coffee and oolong tea were brewed with unfiltered tap water, which where we live is slightly more alkaline than distilled water.  I believe this accounts for the difference between our coffee being a pH of 7 and most reference lists I could find on the web listing black coffee as being a 5.

The tests were conducted by dipping universal indicator pH test strips in the liquids and immediately reading the color in comparison with the color reference included with the test strips.

Our Test Results

True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade

True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade drink mix pH test

pH 2-3

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

apple cider vinegar pH test

pH 3

Coca-Cola*

cola pH test

pH 3

Apple Juice*

apple juice pH test

pH 4

Diet Coke*

diet cola pH test

pH 4

Kombucha

kombucha pH test

pH 4

Orange Juice*

orange juice pH test

pH 4

GOOD GIRL MOONSHINE (GGMS)

good girl moonshine pH test

pH 4.5

2% Milk*

2% milk pH test

pH 7

Coffee

coffee pH test

pH 7

Distilled Water

distilled water pH test

pH 7

SHRINKER

shrinker pH test

pH 7

Tap Water

tap water pH test

pH 8

Filtered Tap Water

filtered tap water pH test

pH 8

Oolong Tea

oolong tea pH test

pH 8

*NOT on-plan for THM

Conclusions

I do have to say, I wasn’t terribly surprised by any of the results, except perhaps the coffee.  Though again, the coffee was brewed with unfiltered tap water, which where we live is slightly more alkaline than distilled water and that may account for the difference between our coffee being a pH of 7 and most reference lists I could find on the web listing black coffee as being a 5.

Good Girl Moonshine is slightly less acidic than soda and many juices, in line with my original hypothesis that it isn’t any more dangerous to teeth than soda.  It isn’t a whole lot better, but it isn’t worse.  Of course, this will vary depending on how strong a person mixes their GGMS and if they add any other things to it like True Lemon mixes or flavoring extracts.  It is also important to consider your personal dental health when selecting beverages.  Just like high cholesterol levels, some individuals are more prone to tooth problems due to genetics, poor dental hygiene practices early in life, excessive fluoridation prior to 6 years of age, smoking or prior smoking/smokeless tobacco, etc.  My husband grew up in an area where the water was excessively fluoridated and has soft enamel, pitting, and mottling of his teeth (fluorosis) which makes him more prone to tooth problems.  For people with a predisposition to tooth problems, it is important to carefully evaluate what is appropriate for their individual circumstances.

The bottom line is that the greater the acidity (the lower the pH number), the more dangerous there is to your tooth enamel.  From a tooth perspective, it is better to drink Shrinker than GGMS.  However, you don’t need to give up GGMS completely.  There are a few things you can do to minimize the risk without throwing the GGMS out with the soda.

  • Use a straw.  Even better, use a straw and aim for the roof of your mouth as far back as you can.  By using a straw you will minimize the contact the GGMS makes with your teeth.
  • Mix your GGMS weaker.  I mix mine “full strength” (4 tablespoons ACV to 2 quarts water), but going with the lower amount of 2 tablespoons of ACV will lessen the acidity of the GGMS and still give you health benefits.
  • Do a GGMS “shot” once a day rather than mixing as a sipper.  You can use 1-2 tablespoons of ACV and drink it as you would a shot followed by drinking a glass of water to rinse your mouth.
  • Rinse with water after each sip of GGMS.  This would require lugging two mugs around (one with GGMS and one with water), so it might not be the best solution for some.
  • Do NOT brush your teeth immediately after drinking either GGMS sipper or a GGMS shot.  I know it seems backward from what you’d think would be recommended, but brushing after drinking something acidic actually does more damage than good.  The acid weakens the enamel and then the abrasiveness of brushing the softened enamel will cause more harm.

I hope this has helped other mamas be able to make wise choices about the incorporation of sipper drinks into their THM lifestyle.

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3 thoughts on “Good Girl Moonshine & Dental Health: Part 1

  1. Heather Ling says:

    I saw a video recently of a woman doing a litmus test with coffee and then doing again after she added a pinch of baking soda. Originally her coffee was acidic like you mentioned most are but after the addition it came out neutral. I wonder if that would also work for GGMS without detracting from any of the intended health benefits of the ACV. Might want to do some looking that 🙂 Thanks for your information!

    Like

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