Can a daily dose of baking soda keep the doctor away?
Baking soda — you know, the stuff you buy for less than $1 at the grocery store — is quickly becoming the hot wellness trend of 2018. But, should you drink baking soda for health? Yes, nutrition expert Britt Brandon, author of Baking Soda For Health, told Well + Good.
Drinking baking soda, according to Brandon, helps "maintain a healthy pH balance throughout the digestive system for optimal digestion, minimized acid reflux, and healthy bowel functioning."
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There is at least some research to back that up: a study published recently in the Journal of Immunology found that baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) is shown to help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
The reason? Drinking baking soda triggers the stomach to make more acid to help digest the next meals — and to tell the mesothelial cells on the spleen to stop producing an inflammatory response to food.
"You are not really turning anything off or on, you are just pushing it toward one side by giving an anti-inflammatory stimulus," said Paul O'Connor, renal physiologist in the MCG Department of Physiology at Augusta University and study co-author.
"It's potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease."
Another study conducted at the Royal London Hospital found that 134 patients with advanced chronic kidney disease were able to slow kidney decline by two-thirds when they had a daily dose of baking soda. Those who didn’t have baking soda didn’t experience the same decline.
But really, should you drink baking soda?
You’ve probably heard the old saying "the poison is in the dose" — and that applies to baking soda, too. We already consume baking soda in many foods (you’ve probably baked with it before) and it’s a vital ingredient in many all-natural cleaning products. It’s also shown to help reduce the symptoms of urinary-tract infections.
However, it can also negatively impact health if you get too much of it.
"Baking soda contains a relatively high amount of sodium, about 1,259mg per teaspoon," says Morgan Statt, a health and safety investigator with ConsumerSafety.org. "The maximum daily recommended intake of sodium is 2,300mg, so ingesting just 1 teaspoon daily causes you to reach over half the recommended intake."
"Diets high in sodium can disrupt our body's ability to absorb calcium, the mineral that plays a key role in bone health," adds Statt. "Long-term ingestion of baking soda and its high sodium contents could increase the risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases."
The high amount of sodium can also negatively impact blood pressure.
Drink baking soda: Yes or no?
Should you drink baking soda for health? It’s not bad for you in small doses — and it does have many positive benefits. However, you shouldn’t rely on it to be a cure-all for everything that ails you.
And it can also mess with medicines you take.
"[Large amounts of] baking soda shouldn't be taken without first consulting your doctor since it may interfere with certain medications you're taking," adds Statt. "Baking soda works by reducing the stomach acid that's present, but this can also disrupt how your medications are absorbed and how effective they are."