They’re a favorite food and snack for many, but are there any problems with eating pickles before bed? It’s a question a number of people have asked, so we decided to let you know the actual effects of eating pickles before bed.
You’ll be happy to know it’s not all bad news!
Disclaimer: You must always consult your doctor before including a new supplement or food into your daily routine as only your doctor can explain any pros or cons that are specific to you. Some supplements & foods may interfere with medications and/or cause allergic reactions.
But First: What Makes a Pickle a Pickle?
The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘pickle’ as vegetables that have been preserved in vinegar or saltwater (brine). However, the word is now mainly associated with pickled cucumbers, but it can be any vegetable that has been fermented in a vinegar or brine solution.
It should be noted that not all pickles are made by fermentation, so some pickles only soak up the vinegar or brine solution without getting fermented by it. Regardless, of whether fermented or not, pickles tend to end up having a very high sodium and vinegar content.
That’s important as many of the negatives and benefits of pickles on the body are based on the effects of that high sodium and vinegar content. Some of these effects are very surprising and trust us, you’ll want to know about them. Especially if you’re currently eating pickles before bed.
Let’s go check them out.
Eating Pickles Before Bed: What You Need to Know
Enough research is yet to be made on the topic of eating pickles before bed to draw conclusive evidence. However, a little scientific and biological exploration provides us with enough facts to work with.
Pickles, Serotonin, and Sleep
A psychologist and his colleagues at the College of Williams and Mary carried out a study on 710 college students to find out the effects fermented foods have on the body.
In that study, it was discovered that the group that consumed fermented food saw a decrease in their level of anxiety and depression compared to the group that did not eat the fermented foods. That research also revealed that eating fermented foods like pickles on a daily basis can help boost the production of serotonin – a hormone found in the body that plays a role in memory, happiness, cognition, and other emotions.
However, here is the interesting part. Serotonin has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce an all-important sleep hormone called melatonin!
Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin. Therefore eating a handful of pickles before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
Yet there have also been a few other studies that found the opposite, that rather than inducing sleep, serotonin works more during wakefulness. As such, depending on a number of factors, food substances like pickles which help boost serotonin might have an effect on sleeplessness and wakefulness too.
Confusing right? But moving on from the scientific and biological aspects…… there are some negative effects from eating pickles before bed you may want to know.
Eating Pickles Before Bed Can Have Some Unwanted Negative Effects
While drinking salt water before going to sleep can alleviate bad breath, the combination of vinegar and salt in pickles consumed before bedtime can cause severely unpleasant breath.
That might irritate your olfactory lobes and prevent sleep from coming faster.
Also, when the high salt and vinegar content from pickles combines with the gastric juices in the stomach, it can increase the acid level of the stomach. That causes a burning sensation, is uncomfortable, and may make sleep much more elusive too.
The General Effect of Eating Pickles Before Bed: The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly
Fermented foods have quite a number of effects on the body.
Some of them include:
Fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurts have been said to induce weight loss. We’ll explain.
The main solution used in the fermentation of pickles is vinegar. One of the primary ingredients of vinegar is acetic acid which might be useful in weight loss.
Acetic acid keeps food longer in the stomach thereby filling you up, preventing you from going hungry, and thus leading to fewer calories consumed. One can liken it to an appetite suppressant.
According to a 2015 review made by Food Science and Nutrition, it was reported that rats who were fed meals containing acetic acid had more obesity resistance than those who weren’t. Although these research and facts are in their preliminary stages, they are still strong enough to consider.
Chronic Health Conditions
Pickling is a way of preserving food, and most times salt is heavily involved in this process. So pickles are rich in salt and by extension, sodium.
While sodium is important in the body for many processes, excessive intake of it can cause some serious health complications. Consuming too much salt can increase your chances of having stomach cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic health conditions.
Reduce Cell Damage
Pickles are excellent sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds in the body that help to neutralize free radicals which may prove harmful.
Free radicals are one of the causes of chronic health complications like cataracts, inflammatory disease, and so on. They also damage the cells of the body.
Antioxidants help to neutralize these radicals by actively searching for them and making them undergo decomposition.
Pickles contain a high amount of vinegar which can have damaging effects on the mouth and teeth. The acetic acid in vinegar is capable of weakening and eroding the white part of the teeth called enamel.
When the enamel is weakened, cavities and other dental damage may occur.
You might be surprised to hear that there are good and helpful bacteria. These bacteria are called probiotics and they are mainly found in fermented foods like pickles.
These probiotic bacteria exist naturally in the body where they help in the removal of harmful bacteria that can cause diseases and infections. Pickles contain a healthy amount of these bacteria and can even serve as supplements for them.
Low Blood Sugar
Excessive consumption of vinegar, a primary ingredient in pickles can lead to a dangerously low blood sugar level, also called hypoglycemia. This can lead to symptoms like anxiety, dizziness, cold, and drowsiness.
As said previously, all the research carried out on pickles and their effects on the human body are in the preliminary phase.
However, it’s clear there are good and bad effects when it comes to consuming pickles, so it’s best to eat them in moderation. Get the good effects, but don’t eat so many that the sodium and vinegar content of pickles causes issues.