Pickles generally refer to cucumbers that have been left to ferment in a brine of salt and water, although any vegetable can be pickled. Although it’s true that cavemen were not exactly pickling and jarring their vegetables, fermented food still offers a number of health benefits. Most notably, it’s an effective probiotic, meaning it conveys beneficial bacteria which can then hang out in our gut and do all sorts of nice things for us.
The Importance of Our Gut Biome
We’re just starting to scratch the surface on the science of gut bacteria, but one thing is clear: it is extremely important to all aspects of our health. Everything from our likelihood of catching a common cold to our mood is linked to the tiny little bugs that have made a home for themselves in our digestive system. Probiotics found in fermented food (like pickles) introduce the good bacteria into our guts (the stuff we want to stick around) and crowds out the bad bacteria.
Homemade Is Better
As is usually the case, though, you’re better off making your own. Store-bought pickles tend to be made with vinegar, rather than the traditional brine, so they are lacking the probiotics. The good news is that making your own pickles is super easy, as demonstrated by Mark Sisson here.