Of all the health foods out there, pickle juice may be the last one that comes to mind! Many people claim that pickle juice can help your body and some even claim that it is the ultimate remedy for night cramps, hiccups, heartburn, blood sugar control and even hangovers!
However, others believe it is too high in sodium, which outweighs all its benefits. Let’s find out what the research says.
What Is Pickle Juice?
While other health juices require blending up kale, lemon, cucumbers and other ingredients, pickle juice is different. It really requires no preparation. All you need is a jar of pickles.
Pickle juice is made by curing the cucumbers in water and salt first. This is a similar process to preserving other foods such as kimchi.
Lactobacillus bacteria, which normally cover the vegetable’s skin, helps to ferment the cucumber. However, manufacturers remove these beneficial probiotic bacteria during processing and replace it with vinegar instead.
After several weeks, these cucumbers become pickles and the juice is the liquid in the jar.
Does It Actually Work?
First, before discussing the effectiveness of pickle juice, one must understand what causes muscle cramps in the first place.
Many athletes have been using pickle juice to aid with muscle cramps long before it became a trend.
According to a study from the American College of Sports Medicine, it was found that pickle juice for cramps worked better than water to inhibit electrically induced muscle cramps.
This is mainly due to the electrolytes pickle juice contains, which relieved a cramp 45% faster than when no liquid was consumed.
On the other hand, water did not even have any effect on the cramp duration.
Side Effects of Pickle Juice
Around 3.5 oz of pickle juice contains very small amounts of carbohydrates, calcium, potassium and magnesium, but very high concentration of sodium. In fact, just 3.5 oz of pickle juice can have 50-115% of the Recommended Daily Intake.
Consuming excess amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure by drawing in water into the bloodstream, which increases the volume of blood. This can increase our risk of stroke, heart failures and other health problems.
How to Consume Pickle Juice
There are many ways to consume pickle juice, from drinking pickle juice slushies to adding it into your mac and cheese. Alternatively, you can choose the simple route and drink a shot of the pickle juice on its own.
If you do, however, make sure you do not consume pickle juice with sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate can convert to benzene, which is a carcinogen and may lead to extremely harmful health effects in your body, such as increasing risk of obesity, ADHD, and more.
I Tried Pickle Juice Everyday
Last year, when I was competing internationally at a track and field meet, my coach handed me a shot of pickle juice right before my race. For some people, pickles are a big no. For me, I was indifferent. I ate them occasionally, but it was never one of those foods that I would crave or eat everyday.
So, of course, when my coach offered me to drink the pickle juice, I was a bit nervous...but I did it.
After the meet, I noticed I was not as sore as I usually was after long and hard meets. I couldn’t tell if my recovery improved because of the pickle juice or because of the other methods I used such as the ice bath, adequate sleep and proper nutrition.
However, after trying pickle juice for the first time, I decided to have a shot of pickle juice everyday for 5 days to really see its effectiveness.
With that, I put away all my favorite sports drinks and went with pickle juice as my “pre-workout” before my track team practices.
On the first few days, it was a bit difficult to down the pickle juice because it was too salty for my taste buds. However, I experienced no muscle cramps at all during this time.
For the last couple of days, I also began to notice other benefits, including good digestion and zero bad breath! I usually suffer with bloating, but I noticed on the last day that my digestion had improved and my bloating had disappeared.
Also, whenever I cooked recipes loaded with garlic (think garlic bread or potatoes), I noticed how taking a shot of pickle juice right after prevented any sort of bad breath.
Overall, I cannot tell whether it helped regulate my blood sugar or boost my energy but it did help my muscle cramps, bad breath and digestion.
Also, I am not one to get a lot of cramps while running, so it may be the reason why I experienced less physical changes.
However, I have learned that next time I reach out for that sports drink, I will definitely consider pickle juice.
The conclusion, therefore, is that pickle juice can indeed work for cramps. However, more research is needed on pickle juice for cramps as currently there are only a few studies.
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