Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is a white powdery substance widely used as a baking ingredient. We all love our bread, muffins, and cakes to be light and fluffy, and we’ve got baking soda to thank for that. However, is that all that baking soda is good for? Definitely not, and in this blog post, we’re looking at 7 unexpected health benefits of baking soda.
1. It assists in mitigating heartburn
Heartburn is a distressing, burning sensation that begins in the upper region of the stomach and spreads through the throat. This sensation is normally caused by acid flowing out of your stomach and up into the esophagus. However, heartburn can result from other disorders such as achalasia or eosinophilic esophagitis.
Achalasia makes it difficult for food and liquid to pass into the stomach whereas eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus. Heartburn and acid reflux can also be caused by fatty and acidic food and drinks. Some people may also experience heartburn after gaining weight, but not necessarily.
Baking soda can help ease heartburn sensations by neutralising stomach acid. Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it slowly. It should make it better for you in seconds.
However, there are a few things you should watch out for when it comes to baking soda for heartburn. First, not all heartburn symptoms are caused by acid reflux as we mentioned before, and baking soda is high in sodium and you should keep your sodium levels in check.
Drinking baking soda mixtures often could lead to metabolic alkalosis, meaning your blood becomes too alkaline, increasing the risk of heart problem. Therefore, baking soda can be a relief for the occasional heartburn but it is not a viable long-term treatment.
2. It is good for oral hygiene
Some people just can’t stand that stinging sensation of mouthwash. Baking soda is a great substitute for the commercial mouthwash. It doesn’t taste great either, but it is at least better mouthwash.
To remove bacteria and plaque, you can rinse your mouth with baking soda. Mix one spoon of baking soda with warm water and swish it around as you would normally do with mouthwash.
Baking soda has a granular texture that helps reach all the hidden nooks and crannies between your teeth that are hard to reach with regular brushing. Additionally, baking soda has strong antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help neutralise the bacteria, keeping your gums happy and healthy.
Baking soda can also help treat some mouth abscesses and canker sores. Some studies suggest that washing your mouth with a baking soda mixture can ease the pain caused by canker sores. Even better news, baking soda can be effective in whitening your teeth.
Many studies suggest that toothpaste containing baking soda is better at whitening teeth and removing plaque than normal toothpaste. The abrasive properties of baking soda can break the molecular bonds of tooth stains, leaving you with a brighter smile.
3. It helps enhance your sports performance
Baking soda lowers the acidity in working muscles. In fact, baking soda is a popular supplement among athletes. During anaerobic exercises, our body’s demand for oxygen surpasses the available supply. Therefore, our muscles do not have enough oxygen to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is our body’s cellular energy source.
Excessive hydrogen in our muscles worsens the pH levels, resulting in an acidic environment. Some researchers point to lactic acid as the leading cause of “burning muscles”. Lactic acid could also lower the pH in our muscle cells, causing our muscles to burn and tire as well.
Either way, baking soda helps raise the pH levels and enables you to perform intense activity for longer, a fact with strong scientific backing. For instance, one study found that cyclists who took baking soda could exercise for 4 and a half minutes longer.
4. It is good for your skin
Baking soda is often recommended for itchy skin, bee stings, mosquito bites or even sunburns. In folk medicine, baking soda is mixed with cornstarch or oatmeal to alleviate the nasty sensations of sunburns. Some people recommend taking baking soda baths.
Just add one or two cups of baking soda to warm water and soak in. You could also mix baking soda with a bit of water until you create a paste. Add a few layers to the affected area and leave it on for a few minutes. Lastly, a mixture of baking soda and water can help soothe the discomfort caused by calluses. Soak calluses in baking soda and you will feel better afterwards.
5. It provides relief from arthritic pain
Based on recent studies, baking soda helps strengthen your body’s anti-inflammatory response, with further research suggesting that baking soda can be effective when it comes to treating rheumatoid arthritis.
This autoimmune disorder targets the joints leading to painful swelling, stiffness, and lack of mobility. Since baking soda is a good anti-inflammatory agent, it can help reduce joint inflammation and autoimmune response.
A study published in April 2018 in the journal of immunology concluded that drinking a mixture of water and baking soda can reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases. The study was done on rats and healthy humans. The humans were part of the control group. After 2 weeks of drinking baking soda and water mixture, researchers found that the immune cells began to focus on lessening inflammation.
6. It diminishes bloating
Bloating is a general symptom that can occur for various reasons. Some of the most common causes are constipation, swallowing air from eating too fast, eating too much, reflux, weight gain, and menstruation. You can solve the issue in the short term by mixing a teaspoon of baking soda into 4 to 6 ounces of water.
The pH will be brought down to more suitable levels, neutralising gases and calming your stomach, allowing your enzymes to return to their natural state. Baking soda is a wonderful DIY anti-bloating medicine. However, please note that it’s a temporary solution. If you have frequent stomach aches and digestive issues, you should see a doctor.
In addition, pregnant women and children should avoid this method. Do not drink water and baking soda for longer than two weeks at a time.
7. It might help improve cancer treatments
Baking soda is not a miracle cancer treatment. Unfortunately, there are no such things yet. However, baking soda has a significant alkalising effect, meaning it neutralises acidity. Therefore, many researchers believe that the key to battling cancer is to lower the acidity of their environment.
A 2009 study published in cancer research suggested that injecting bicarbonate into mice can decrease the tumor pH levels and slow the progression of metastatic breast cancer.
The chemotherapeutic failure in some cancer treatments might relate to the acidity of tumors. In some cases, chemotherapy medicines, which represent a highly chemical cocktail drug, cannot pass through this highly acidic environment.
Consequently, scientists are assessing the effectiveness of antacid drugs in combination with chemotherapy. Some studies might suggest that it could work. However, there is still a long way to go, and we certainly can’t say with certainty that baking soda can help with cancer treatments.
This white powdery substance is versatile and can be used for more than just baking. Apart from its health benefits, baking soda is also excellent for removing stains and eliminating odors. You can even use it as a natural deodorant. Baking soda is cheap and widely available in stores, so make the most of this miracle ingredient.
As a final note, baking soda reacts when it comes in contact with acids such as vinegar or lemon juice, producing carbon dioxide. So, if you’d like to give your kids a fun treat, try mixing vinegar with baking soda. It will create an erupting volcano that kids will love as a science experiment!