Most people just throw out the remaining pickle juice after they’ve eaten all the pickles in a jar, but new research is suggesting the juice may be the best part. The news and Internet are crawling with stories of people using pickle juice for muscle cramps, heartburn, and even hangovers. Dr. Rick Ganzi from Holland, Michigan encourages marathon runners to drink pickle juice. He even got Heinz to donate leftover pickle juice from one of their factories to the ING New York City Marathon for runners to drink.
Even the Philadelphia Eagles claim that pickle juice was their “secret weapon” in defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the 109-degree Texas heat in 2000. Learning how to pickle all kinds of different foods might have a lot of health benefits we’ve never considered.
Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and Sodium Chloride (the chemical that composes common salt) are the elements that we refer to as “electrolytes”. These elements are lost through sweat when we work out, which is why sweat stains often leave salt marks on clothing. Cellular balance is thrown off by electrolyte loss and muscle cramps can occur. Water isn’t enough to replenish your body’s need for these elements, so people often consume sports drinks after working out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unnecessary sugars and dyes in sports drinks and different brands have different ratios of electrolytes.
In a study conducted in 2010 at BYU, 10 male university athletes were tested to determine the effects of consuming pickle juice after exercising. The subjects worked out and dehydrated themselves, then induced muscle cramps in their legs with electrodes on their toes. Some were given water and others pickle juice. Researchers found that pickle juice remedied the cramps 37% faster than drinking water.
A drawback to drinking store-bought pickle juice is the red and yellow dyes and PolySorbate 80 used by some companies. Here’s where learning how to pickle your own foods can come in handy. You can choose what goes into your brining solution this way. Let’s say dill pickles aren’t your favorite, but you still want the health benefits from the brine. Why not try pickled beets, pickled okra or even pickled eggs? Pickling spice can be used for a number of things. The salt and vinegar are helping the body more than the food itself.
If you want to learn how to make pickles, check out your local library or community center for books and classes on pickling. This can be a fun and healthy way to help prevent muscle cramps and treat heartburn, keep healthy and delicious snacks around all year and make presents for others. Plus, finding some kid friendly recipes can turn pickling into a family activity. The process is not too difficult and after you try pickling once or twice you may find you have a real knack for it.
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