DILL WITH IT
The Sour Truth of Tomi Lahren’s Pickle Juice Obsession
‘There’s health benefits. I googled it.’
She might be wrong about pickle juice, too.
The 26-year-old commentator posted a short Instagram video this week that showed her holding a pickle jar—minus the pickles. It was about one-third full of pickle juice, and Lahren told her followers she planned to drink it.
“There’s health benefits,” she said. “I googled it.”
Ah yes, Dr. Google.
The Daily Beast decided to get a second opinion on this pickle juice thing—not just for Lahren but for others who swear by the brine. Football players, from college teams to the NFL, have long sworn it helps ward off cramps.
Kevin Miller, a professor in Central Michigan University’s Department of Athletic Training, has co-authored several studies exploring pickle juice in exercise, specifically in muscle cramping.
His work has focused on physically active college kids drinking 80 milliliters of pickle juice—“the equivalent of two shot glasses”—with little effect on nutrition. Magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients impacted by exercise aren’t affected by pickle juice.
“Our bodies are 70 percent or more water,” Miller said. “When I give healthy subjects 80 mls of pickle juice, it’s not enough to change any electrolyte concentration.”
So why are people slugging it down?
Miller said a 2010 study he did for the American College of Sports Medicine might have led some to believe the green-tinged vinegary liquid is some kind of magic potion.
For the research, 10 healthy males at Brigham Young University did 30-minute bicycling sessions using one leg, in a hot lab, until they’d lost 3 percent of their body weight in sweat, which is considered mild dehydration.
Miller’s team then clamped the big toe of the unexercised leg and electrically stimulated the tibial nerve to cause a cramp. The subjects were given a couple of shot glasses full of either Vlasic dill pickle juice or deionized water, the salinity of which is comparable to pickle juice, in a blind test.
For the pickle juice gulpers, the toe cramps disappeared within 85 seconds—45 percent faster than in those who drank nothing at all, and 37 percent faster than those who drank the water.
Miller said the results made no sense.
“That’s not enough time for pickle juice to empty from the stomach [and enter the bloodstream],” a process that takes about 25 minutes, he said.
What was probably happening, he theorized, was the pain in the toe was counterbalanced by the unpleasant sensation in the mouth.
“The vinegar or combination of vinegar and salt [affected] a reflex in the mouth and acted as a counterirritant,” Miller said.“It’s like when you slam your hand on a car door and you have a painful reaction, but you pinch another part of your body to counter that pain.”
That could explain why some athletes are pickle juice fans.
It’s not clear if Lahren is struggling with toe cramps or thinks pickle juice might help her in some other way because she did not respond to questions from The Daily Beast. She did, however, take time to post a video in which she referenced our inquiries while hoisting a full jar of Vlasic.
“Here’s to you,” she snarked.
All kidding aside, pickle juice—in larger quantities—could actually be unhealthy for some people. Its salinity is comparable to ocean water, which might make it dangerous for people with high blood pressure or others on low-salt regimens.
“There are a lot of home remedies out there,” Miller said. “Just because someone puts it on their Twitter or on the internet doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to do so.”