This Underrated Liquid Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Hydration

Dehydration isn't just about being thirsty, although it's one of the more noticeable symptoms. Chewing gum or sucking on a mint might tackle your thirst for a moment, but dehydration can cause symptoms you might not have considered. When you need hydration, you might crave sugar even though you're not hungry. You could experience chills or be unable to handle heat. Your heart rate could be higher than normal even though your blood pressure drops. Dehydration could be the reason why you're more tired than usual.

Drinking water is the obvious solution for dehydration, but you also need some electrolytes to balance your body's fluid and pH levels. Electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium are often found in food, but some fortified juices and waters will also have them. Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade and Pedialyte are specifically designed for hydration, but they also come loaded with plenty of sugar and calories. You also could find a drink that's great for hydration inside a pickle jar. Yes, pickle brine can be a great drink for hydration and cramping, but not necessarily because of its electrolytes.

Pickle juice can reduce cramping

The thought of dumping out your pickles to drink the pickle brine might sound gross to you, but cyclists and triathletes have been using it for years to beat cramping. Tennis player Carlos Alcaraz was seen sipping on this unique beverage at the 2023 final at Wimbledon. An ounce of pickle brine has 25 calories with a whopping 877 milligrams of sodium which will put you at 38% of your sodium limit for the day. The juice left behind in a pickle jar also has trace amounts of calcium and potassium, so you won't get a healthy balance of electrolytes this way.

What's the deal with pickle brine, then? Liver specialist Dr. Elliot Tapper told Today that it's the acid in pickle brine that stops cramping. "When the acid enters the mouth and it splashes the back of the throat, there is a nerve receptor there that is sensitive to acid," Tapper said. "When that receptor fires, it communicates down the spinal cord where the cramp is happening."

Tapper's 2022 study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at the effect of pickle brine on people with cirrhosis who were experiencing muscle cramps. Those who drank it whenever they experienced cramping had reduced the severity of their cramps compared to people who drank water.

Pickle brine benefits can vary

Pickle brine can provide some other benefits, depending on the variety. According to registered dietician Matthew Black at The Ohio State University, some types of pickle brine are fermented in salt water, which means you'll also get a dose of probiotics to improve the health of your gut. Other types of pickle brines are simply a mix of vinegar and salt that might stabilize your blood sugar by improving your insulin response. Drinking pickle brine can help you cure a hangover by adding some electrolytes to your hydration.

Rather than guzzling pickle brine from the jar, there are a variety of pickle drinks from small shots to diluted beverages. Most of them are heavy in sodium, so people with high blood pressure should avoid them. You'll also want to skip the high-acid pickle brine if you have stomach ulcers. However, adding a little pickle brine to your regular water might be a lower-calorie way to replenish electrolytes after a sweaty workout rather than high-calorie sports drinks.