There are two types of individuals in the world, individuals who cannot stand the taste of pickles, and those who may just enter a pickle eating contest given the opportunity.
The whole idea of pickles came about when travelers taking long journeys from India decided to put their cucumbers in water and salt to keep them good for the trip. This idea worked well and has evolved into our modern day salty vinegary jarred pickles from the grocery store.
While the brine that remains in the jar once the pickles are gone can be extremely acidic and sour, some individuals actually think it provides a unique taste when added to different drinks and recipes.
Health Benefits of Drinking Pickle Juice
While using pickle juice in that way is nothing new, drinking pickle juice by itself for its health benefits is new.
1. Helps Manage Blood Sugar
Believe it or not, there is a way pickle juice helps manage blood sugar after eating a meal. When an individual consumes a meal, glucose is used by the body to produce energy.
After the food is eaten and blood sugar increases, beta cells in the pancreas are told to excrete insulin into the bloodstream. Once insulin is in the bloodstream, it is able to bond with the glucose and be absorbed by the cells.
When there is an excess of sugar in the body, insulin stores the extra sugar in the liver for later use when blood sugar becomes low again. The pickle juice we have today contains a good concentration of vinegar, and vinegar contains a compound called acetic acid.
Acetic acid has been proven in research to decrease the levels of glucose in the blood by slowing down the process of digestion, facilitating the glucose absorption of muscles, and preventing the complete starch breakdown.
When it comes to raw vinegar it only takes about two tablespoons before consuming a meal to have this effect on blood sugar. A small cup of pickle juice will have about that quantity of vinegar content, which results in the same blood sugar lowering effects.
2. Reduces Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps often occur during or after exercise as a result muscle straining and overuse. While fluid and hydration have an effect on the ability of the muscle to contract and relax, the nervous system plays an even stronger role in it.
Alpha motor neurons present in the spinal cord and brain stem are responsible for communicating the messages of when to contract and relax to the muscle. Muscle fatigue during or after exercise causes the activity levels of the alpha motor neurons, resulting in a sustained state of contraction, otherwise known as muscle cramping.
Drinking pickle juice helps to reduce muscle cramps because it contains a good concentration of vinegar, which contains acetic acid and pickle juice its noxious taste. This is important because this taste has shown in research to stimulate a specific type of reflex that happens in the back of the throat.
This certain type of reflex is effective at reducing the activity in the hyperactive alpha motor neurons. Because the cramping occurs from the alpha motor neurons being too active, the relaxation of the muscles will occur with a decrease in activity of the alpha motor neurons.
3. Improves Gut Health
There are a couple of ways pickle juice improves gut health and digestion. Pickle juice contains vinegar, which is the ideal acidity to assist with the breakdown of food.
This causes the food pieces to become smaller and are there for more digestible for the digestive system. Additionally, pickle juice is effective at helping cleanse the liver of toxins.
The liver has the responsibility of ensuring abundant production of the protein building blocks or enzymes required for healthy digestion. Without these digestive enzymes to help out, the food does not digest all the way and eventually ferment in the gut.
When this happens, the body is unable to absorb the nutrients from it and endotoxins result from the rotting of this food in the gut. Not having enough digestive enzymes also contributes to the issue of intestinal bacterial overgrowth (not the good kind).
Pickle juice has also been said to provide a good source of probiotics for gut health. This is true in a way; however, it really works because pickle juice is a prebiotic not a probiotic. Prebiotics provide the food for probiotics to stay functioning and alive to do their job in the gut.
4. Assists with Hydration
When an individual becomes dehydrated, it means the body has lost more of the essential fluids and electrolytes than it is taking in. During physical activity, the body uses the sweating mechanism to help cool down to maintain homeostasis.
Along with the fluid loss from sweating, potassium and sodium are lost as well. Drinking pickle juice assists with hydration because it is an abundant source of sodium, which causes the kidneys to retain fluids.
However, it is important to understand pickle juice only contains so much water, and the sodium and potassium in the pickle juice will not work effectively for this purpose if water is not consumed with it.
The increase in sodium from the pickle juice will use the fluid-electrolyte balance mechanism that naturally occurs within the body to signal to the mouth and kidneys that the body needs water.
This makes an individual feel thirsty and causes the urine to become more concentrated because fluids are being retained rather than flushed out. Individuals will benefit from the combination of pickle juice and water after a workout to stay hydrated.
5. Lessens Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a condition characterized by an urge to move the legs that cannot be controlled.
This typically happens during the evening hours and has been described as an uncomfortable sensation. It is said moving the legs helps ease this sensation, which is why the condition is called restless leg syndrome.
This causes individuals to be unable to fall asleep or stay asleep because of the constant need to move the legs. Individuals of any stage of life can develop restless leg syndrome, but it is more common in the older adult and senior population.
Pickle juice lessens the symptoms of restless leg syndrome because the excessive leg movements are said to be associated with a hyperactive nervous system.
This means the brain and nerves are sending more transmissions then normal, and the acetic acid in pickle juice can decrease the hyperactivity of the neurons responsible for muscle relaxation and contraction.