Six Adverse Reactions to Consuming Excess Pickles and Solutions

A few slices of pickles can invigorate a burger or sandwich, and a couple of crisp spears can fulfill a salty appetite. Is it possible to go overboard, though?

Pickles are considered a vegetable and are low in fat and calories. However, consuming an excessive amount of them could make you feel less than optimal, particularly if you have indigestion when eating cucumbers.

What Happens When You Eat Too Many Pickles

Popping pickle after pickle can set the stage for stomach issues. In particular:

1. You Might Get Gassy

Yep, add pickles to the list of foods that can cause gas. Cucumbers contain cucurbitacin, a naturally occurring compound that, in large quantities, could potentially trigger indigestion symptoms like gassiness, according to a January 2015 study in the ​Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases.

Cucurbitacin-induced gassiness can occur from eating any kind of pickle made from cucumbers. But if you’re eating fermented pickles (as opposed to ones pickled in vinegar), the problem might be even more noticeable.

Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria which, while good for your gut, can sometimes make you gassy, per the Cleveland Clinic.

2. You Could Feel Bloated

Bloating often stems from trapped gas that hasn’t yet been released from your GI tract, so it may come as no surprise that pickles can give you that puffed-out feeling. But that’s not the only thing going on.

Pickles tend to be high in sodium, which can also exacerbate bloating.

“Sodium helps the body retain water, so consuming too much salt can lead to extra fluid buildup. The result is swelling, typically in the face, hands, feet and ankles,” explains food, fitness and nutrition consultant Heather Mangieri, RDN, LDN.

And you may not have to eat much to notice the effects: “Eat two pickles, and you’ve consumed over 50 percent of the maximum recommended daily sodium intake,” Mangieri explains.

3. You Could Burp a Lot

Those same factors that result in pickles causing gas to come out one end can potentially send gas out the other end, too. Are you surprised?

4. You Might Feel Thirsty

Notice your mouth feels kind of like cotton after chowing down on those pickles? That’s to be expected.

Sodium-heavy foods — everything from pickles, to chips, to pizza — have a tendency to leave you parched.

When high levels of sodium flood your bloodstream, the body tries to compensate by increasing thirst, because drinking water can help bring your electrolyte levels back into balance, per March 2020 findings in ​Hypertension.

5. You May Notice Some Heartburn

Heartburn is often triggered by sharp, acidic foods, including ones made with vinegar, per Harvard Health Publishing. That puts pickles made with vinegar (but not necessarily fermented ones) high on the list.

If you have acid reflux or GERD, you may want to limit your consumption or steer clear altogether.

6. It’s Possible You Could Become Nauseous, Vomit or Have Diarrhea

If you’re sensitive to cucurbitacin or decide to polish off a whole jar of pickles, you might experience some intense GI discomfort. Though rare, there are documented incidents of the compound triggering nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, per 2012 findings in the ​Indian Journal of Medical Research​.

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