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Gut Healing and Immune Benefits of Pickle Juice

 

Pickles are delicious and wonderfully healthy when fermented using a traditional method of lactic acid fermentation - but don't toss out the pickle juice! The cloudy, herb-filled brine in pickle juice is great for sipping or adding to a variety of recipes to amp up the acidity and flavour. There is also tremendous gut healing and immune benefits of pickle juice. Apparently, it's getting trendy too and can often be found at farmers' markets and in health food stores sold as 'gut shots'.

What Is Pickle Juice?

Pickle juice is the liquid that your pickles are stored in. Most pickles sold at grocery stores are stored in vinegar, and are tasty but not fermented. Sour pickles are the traditional alternative that use salt to kick off the fermentation process. Traditional sour pickles are raw after culturing, unlike vinegar-based cucumber pickles that are cooked during the canning process – this destroys the enzymes, beneficial bacteria and heat-sensitive vitamins.

Health Benefits of Pickle Juice

The benefits of pickle juice are basically the same as for all fermented foods. One of the added benefits of pickle juice, along with sauerkraut juice or the brine left behind from any fermented vegetable, is that you're getting that probiotic-rich liquid without the fiber.

It is so supportive of digestion and immune health that sauerkraut juice was one of the first foods our son ever ate.

I promise you he loved it and kept wanting more.

Muscle Recovery

Athletes have been drinking pickle juice for some time as an alternative to sports drinks, hence the product and claim on that display below. The high mineral content is great for providing the body with post-workout electrolytes and some studies show it can help ward off muscle cramping, though overall there is limited evidence about this.

Pickle Juice

This was at the checkout at a health food store in Joshua Tree. Just when I thought I'd seen everything in this field, this shows up! 🤣

Digestion

The probiotics in fermented foods nourish the gut microbiome, the community of bacteria in the digestive tract, helping to balance and promote good digestive health. The fermentation process can increase vitamin and mineral content while reducing anti-nutrients that may interfere with digestion, like phytic acid.

Immune Health

About 70% of our immune system resides in the gut, which means that our gut health and immune health are intricately connected. The probiotics in fermented foods support and enhance immunity while helping to modulate immune-related conditions such as inflammatory diseases, allergies and some types of cancer. Fermented foods also have anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-allergenic properties – this helps us combat infections and cultivate healthy immunity.

Cognitive Health

Our digestive tracts and brains are connected through the gut-brain axis (sometimes the gut is referred to as 'the second brain'). It's a two-way street: what happens in our gut affects our mood and cognition, and emotional factors can influence digestion. (Anyone who's had a 'gut feeling' or stress-induced diarrhea can probably attest to this!) Fermented foods can boost cognitive function, encourage the production of brain neurotransmitters, calm the nervous system and improve mental health and wellbeing.

Alternatives to Pickle Juice

The brine of most fermented vegetables can be consumed – the benefits will remain even if you don't like cucumber pickles. Try the brine of:

How to Make Your Own Pickles

Fermenting your own pickles and making pickle brine is easy. All you need are veggies, clean water and salt, plus any herbs you love, along with a jar to hold it all. Grab this step-by-step photo pickle tutorial here and start fermenting!

If you're not interested in making your own pickled vegetables or pickle brine, store-bought is an option. Ensure that you purchase lacto-fermented pickles, which will be in the refrigerator section of the grocery store or health food store (the pickles in jars or cans in the aisles will be vinegar pickles and not fermented). Check labels, where you should see only vegetables, salt and herbs used.

how to use Pickle Juice

A little goes a long way with pickle juice. You don't need to drink it by the glass, as this may produce some uncomfortable digestive symptoms (especially if you aren't used to consuming fermented foods). Here are a few ways to use pickle juice:

  • 1-2 Tbsp post high intensity exercise to replenish electrolytes (start off with 1 tbsp)
  • Mix into salads, egg salads, tuna salads, bean/sweet potato salads or any dish where you might normally use pickles for flavour
  • Mix a few spoonfuls into dairy-free yogurt or kefir to make an awesome chip or veggie dip
  • Add to marinades for fish, tempeh, chicken or whatever you might be marinating (it's a good meat tenderizer)
  • Use in place of vinegar in your favourite salad dressings
  • Add it to crackers or kale chip recipes
  • Use the brine as a starter for subsequent batches of pickles, sauerkraut, fermented nut cheese or fermented hot sauce
  • Use it to gently poach fish or vegetables
  • For those of you who are martini drinkers, you can also use pickle juice in place of olive juice if you make it dirty.

More Fermented Foods: Resources + Recipes

Do you like pickle juice? Please share how you like to use it in the comments!

Probiotic benefits of Pickle juice

38 Responses to “Gut Healing and Immune Benefits of Pickle Juice”

  1. Jennifer R. said…
    I took my youngest 2 kids to an event at their school tonight -- fruit and vegetable bingo. They had fun, but of course, there was no jicama, brussels sprouts, okra, or kale to be called out. When I told the mom across from me what vegetables we had for dinner tonight, I think she was quite shocked -- brussels sprouts, beets, and yams (roasted -- oh so delicious!). Oh, and the rest of the people there -- ate pizza at the school for dinner!
  2. [...] immobilize sperm in the laboratory. And perhaps, we might even have a new use for our lactic acid fermented pickle juice. Lactic acid preparations have also been shown to have some spermicidal effect, and commercial [...]
  3. [...] And remember that time you told me I was gross for drinking the pickle juice? [...]
  4. Mary said…
    When I was a kid we always took the pickle juice and froze it in the freezer. It was delicious, eating it frozen. It's like a pickle Popsicle. Also, my great aunt taught us to thin the mayo in tuna or chicken salad, you mix some pickle juice and mayo Ina bowl, and then put it in the chicken or tuna recipe.
  5. Autumn Greene said…
    I have been drinking the pickle juice from my pickles ever since I was little. lol I just love the way it tastes!!!
  6. Leah said…
    Ever since I was a little girl I have been drinking pickle juice straight out of the jar. About 5 years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. When I have a flare-up I stock the fridge with a HUGE jar of pickles and start drinking. This alleviates muscle spasms I get from dehydration. Also like you added above, replenishes the electrolyte loss from extreme diarrhea. Too funny on the good bacteria in your gut, because I just recently read an article on the fermented foods carrying the good bacteria. People with Crohn's are missing the good bacteria.
  7. Leah said…
    I just read the section "About Meghan" and see that you too were diagnosed with Crohn's. I have found my own way through the diet issue. After looking at a bunch of information, about 18 months ago I went with the JJ Virgin Diet. It's been very helpful. My biggest complaint is with medical doctor's, they do not teach nutrition. I am very happy you were able to find your way to help yourself and others. Good Luck!
  8. Jason said…
    I have been a football referee in Houston Texas for 14 years. Towards the end of summer it is still blistering hot and chasing around teens on the football where the temps exceed 110 degrees on the field I have a two full cups of pickle juice at half time to replenish and 4 cups after the game. I feel right as rain the next morning while my fellow officials are dehydrated and wore out. One day they will learn from us, the smart ones. I call my pickle shots, Picklers. LOL!!!
  9. Musette said…
    As an older person I value pickles for this reason: pain relief for stiff knees. Ingesting either 1 pickle or some of the juice = in 20 minutes roughly = pain relief as good as over the counter aspirin etc, without side effects. I alternate with bananas one day (the magnesium soothes stiff knees) and pickles the next day (again, magnesium....). This isn't medical advice. No. Just a passing on what I've found to work well for myself over time.
  10. Margie Semon said…
    I drink dill pickle juice and also eat sauerkraut which I love. Can anyone tell me if the Bread and Butter pickles do the same as the Dill ones for muscle cramps? Thanks...

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