Baking soda is not just for making your favorite baked goods. Dissolving a little baking soda in water and drinking it at certain times during the day may also benefit your health. Baking soda water acts as an antacid and antiseptic, which can help ease some of your stomach and digestive issues. It can also increase your body's alkalinity and therefore potentially combat some diseases.
Baking soda is probably best known as an antacid, which means it neutralizes acid, particularly in the stomach. Acid reflux disease, commonly called chronic heartburn, has numerous causes. It involves stomach acid splashing out of the stomach into the esophagus and it can sometimes go as far up as the back of the throat. Drinking water with some baking soda dissolved in it helps to neutralize the hydrochloric acid from the stomach and takes the burn out of heartburn. Furthermore, the fizziness that occurs when baking soda is added to water promotes burping, which can help relieve gas and bloating. However, baking soda should only be considered a short-term fix and the actual cause of recurring acid reflux or indigestion should be investigated by a health professional.
Baking soda also acts as a mild antiseptic, which means it kills some types of bacteria, fungi, mold and parasites. Consequently, adding some baking soda to your tooth brush not only disinfects the bristles of the brush, but it’s a cheap and effective way to clean your teeth, gums and tongue, as well as freshen up your breath. Gargling with baking soda water may also help reduce the symptoms of a sore throat or chronic cough, but it shouldn’t be considered as any kind of cure.
The potential of baking soda's other health benefits is related to its ability to alkalize tissues. Alkalinity is the opposite of acidity. Sometimes acidity is a good thing, especially for the digestion of food in your stomach, but most body functions work best in an alkaline environment. Your blood, for example, must be kept slightly alkaline in order to effectively exchange oxygen, nutrients and waste products. Furthermore, many disease-causing microorganisms cannot flourish in an alkaline environment. Many items commonly consumed by Americans, such as sugary foods, coffee and soda pop, are highly acidic. Some health practitioners believe chronic body acidity is linked to many degenerative diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis and possibly cancer. More research is needed to better understand the relationship between acidity and disease, although baking soda is a cheap and effective way of potentially alkalizing your body.
As mentioned above, stomach acidity is needed to properly digest food, so baking soda water should only be consumed between meals. Dissolving between a half-teaspoon and two teaspoons of baking soda in an 8-ounce glass of water and drinking it on an empty stomach before bedtime is a common recommendation. Some brands of baking soda may contain impurities such as aluminum, so consider using pure sodium bicarbonate, which may be readily purchased online. Be cautious with baking soda and consult your doctor if you are on a sodium-restricted diet or have high blood pressure because it’s moderately high in sodium.
- PDR for Nutritional Supplements; Sheldon Hendler and David Rorvik
- Contemporary Nutrition: Functional Approach; Gordon M. Wardlaw et al.
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.