If you are looking for ways to elevate your food, adding pickles is a tasty option. Pickles are preserved in vinegar or brine and pair well with other foods. Their acidity and sharp tang can balance the flavors of almost any dish.
Pickles are often served with hamburgers, sandwiches, cocktails, and on charcuterie boards. But more than just a side dish and food enhancer, its juice is also full-packed with nutrients. Drinking pickle juice – yes, it sounds sour – actually does several things for your health. And it’s healthier than those cans of juices filled with artificial colors and flavoring.
Pickle juice or brine is basically made of vinegar, water, salt and vegetables, fruits or flowers. Aromatics like garlic and pepper may also be present. Pickles are soaked in brine for at least 6 days to 6 weeks to ferment. Some people soak it longer since it tastes better the longer it brines.
The Benefits of Pickle Juice
After consuming the whole bottle of pickles, it is typical for the brine to end up in the drain. But hold up, the acrid bottle of pickle juice may be just the thing your body needs. Here’s what happens when you drink pickle juice.
Heals the Gut
Naturally fermented or unpasteurized pickles contain probiotics, specifically lactobacillus that grows during fermentation. These are the pickles that do not contain vinegar – only water and salt. Commercial pickles are mostly pasteurized and do not have the same significant number of probiotics found in naturally fermented pickles.
Drinking pickle juice equals consuming the same microorganism that makes yogurt and sauerkraut gut-friendly. Probiotics help maintain the balance of good bacteria that aid in digestion. A healthy gut flora prevents digestive problems and heals related ailments.
Regulates Sugar Levels
Vinegar-based pickle juice improves the body’s response to insulin which is beneficial against diabetes. It reduces and balances blood sugar and hemoglobin levels. The acetic acid in vinegar slows the breakdown of carbohydrates and gives the body more time to remove glucose from the blood. It prevents the spike in blood sugar that happens after eating.
Since pickle juice increases the response to insulin, diabetics should be wary about drinking it. If you are taking insulin, talk to your doctor before taking pickle juice. It may heighten the effect and lower blood sugar to a dangerously low level.
Rehydrates After Exercise
Sweating after an intense workout or sports performance loses electrolytes. That is why athletes are reliant on sports drinks that offer optimum levels of sodium, magnesium and potassium to rehydrate. Pickle juice is a rich source of these elements, especially sodium to maintain electrolyte balance. It rehydrates the body and increases water intake which benefits sports performance.
But while sodium is good for rehydration, high intake is also detrimental to health. Too much sodium can cause hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Thus, consume it in moderation when using it for sports and workout recovery.
Gut health is important in overall cumulative health since most of the immune cells are found in the digestive system. A healthy tummy has a better ability in filtering toxins and boosting the immune response. Pickle juice works by improving gut health and supplementing the body with antioxidants to ward off cell damage.
Eating pickles also increases the benefits of these antioxidants. It helps your body fight diseases including debilitating cancers.
Relieves Muscle Cramps
If you are dehydrated, it is possible that you will also experience muscle cramps. It is observable after an intense sports activity or termed exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC). In a study conducted in 2010, researchers observed that pickle juice alleviates EAMC about 85 seconds after ingestion. Recovery is also 45% faster than when no fluid is taken.
Aside from EAMC, pickle juice can also relieve menstrual cramps and other types of muscle pains.
Supports Weight Loss
Drinking pickle juice before a meal curbs the appetite and gives the feeling of fullness. The sour tang covers the taste buds to prevent overeating. It also speeds up metabolism and prevents fat deposits.
With improved digestion and stable sugar level, pickle juice can significantly reduce weight when taken properly.
Alcohol is notorious for increasing stomach acid production and dehydration. You may have noticed that drinking alcohol makes you urinate more, which leads to electrolyte loss. Excess alcohol can lower the sugar level, making your stomach feel queasy and nauseous.
By regulating the sugar to an acceptable level and replenishing electrolytes, pickle juice can cure a hangover. The high sodium content also encourages you to drink more water to make up for lost fluid. To make yourself feel better, take a shot of about 45 ml of pickle juice and chase it away with plenty of water. A good breakfast and lots of sleep are also important to cure the consequences of drinking.
Side Effects of Pickle Juice
While it is purported as a healthy drink, pickle juice is not for everyone. There are tradeoffs that come with its benefits mainly because of its sodium content. Sodium in pickle juice can cause water retention and elevated blood pressure. Too much of it can worsen cramping and stomach problems.
Like many foods, drinks and supplements, pickle juice is good when taken in moderate amounts. 1.5 to 3 oz. a day of pickle juice is more than enough to reap its benefits. The juice is generally safe and with little known evidence of allergies.
Pickle juice is least valued as a leftover from pickles. But the brine contains loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants after soaking up in the fermentation process. It helps in boosting digestive health and heals the gut to help the body improve its functions. Pickle juice is a good source of electrolytes that surpasses commercial sports drinks. It is not bad to occasionally indulge in a few sips or glasses to reap the amazing health benefits that pickle juice has to offer.