Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate and bicarbonate of soda – as it is scientifically known, is the core ingredient of baking. But this humble kitchen ingredient has several other uses besides a cooking ingredient as well, which not many are aware of. Read on to know more about baking soda and how and why baking soda is good for health.
Science Behind Baking Soda
Baking soda is scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate. It is a leavening agent that undergoes a decomposition reaction upon heating. In the process, it breaks down into three compounds – sodium carbonate, water, and carbon dioxide. The release of carbon dioxide makes the texture and taste of cakes and idlis soft and fluffy.
Baking Soda Benefits and Uses
We all know about the baking soda uses in cooking. But the baking soda uses and its benefits are innumerable and uncountable. This kitchen ingredient is handy and ready to use. Its use in different ways promises several benefits. These include:
1. Potent Treatment for Heartburns
Baking soda is an antacid and an excellent alkaliser. Its alkaline properties help neutralise stomach acidity, the known cause of heartburn. For temporary but instant relief from heartburn, mix half tsp of baking soda in 100 ml of water. Drink slowly for the best results.
2. Ensures Oral Healthcare
When used as an oral healthcare product, baking soda increases the pH levels of saliva. This inhibits bacterial growth in the mouth, making it free from oral infections. Furthermore, its tendency to reach inaccessible corners of the mouth and crevices of the teeth, gums, and tongue makes it a potent oral healthcare product. It also exhibits natural whitening properties that promise shining, white teeth.
3. Eases Chronic Kidney Conditions
The alkali and acid imbalance spurs kidney disorders. Oral consumption of sodium bicarbonate makes the blood less acidic therefore, it slows down the progression of kidney disease. When used as an alkaliser syrup, it helps eliminate kidney stones. However, baking soda cannot be used as a preventive measure and must be used under medical supervision.
4. Boosts Sports Performance
High-intensity workouts increase acidity in working muscles. Drinking baking soda can help achieve optimal pH balance in the muscles which increases endurance and exercise results. For best results, mix baking soda in water and consume it an hour before working out.
5. Eliminates Bad Odours
Bad odours are usually acidic odours. The use of baking soda helps deodorise bad smells by neutralising acidic and basic odour molecules.
6. Helps Thwart Tumour Growth
Tumours typically thrive in acidic body conditions. The use of baking soda benefits the body by reducing acidity, thereby helping prevent the growth and spread of tumours. As cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment, the use of baking soda ceases to provide a favourable environment.
7. Skin Whitening Agent
Baking soda possesses great bleaching properties. Its mild exfoliation, cleansing, and skin lightening attributes make it a great addition to cosmetic products.
8. Removes Pesticides
Pesticides are commonly used during fruit and vegetable cultivation. They protect the crop from pests and improve crop production. But they are not safe to ingest. Baking soda helps remove chemical residues and pesticides from the skin of fruits and vegetables, making them safe for human consumption.
9. Soothes Canker Sores
Canker sores, small and shallow lesions, develop inside the mouth’s lining. Though not contagious, they are painful. Canker sores are caused by disturbed pH balance. Doing gargles with baking soda solution can help restore the mouth’s pH balance, thereby soothing canker sores.
10. Treatment for Bug Bites
Bug bites, especially mosquito bites, result in red, painful bumps on the skin. They cause itching and burning of the skin. Applying a paste of baking soda to the affected area provides immediate relief as it helps neutralise the skin’s pH balance.
11. Corrects Fungal Infection on Nails
Fungal infection is a common nail condition. It causes the fingernails and/or toenails to become discoloured and thick, which are more likely to crack and break thereafter. But baking soda possesses antifungal properties, which eliminate the excess moisture from the nails, which is responsible for fungal growth.
12. Tames Oily Hair
The use of baking soda can prove to be a great hair care solution for people with extra oily hair. Its abrasive properties help remove build-ups of oils. Its use can also make your hair and scalp dry. However, frequent use is not recommended. Limit its use to once or twice a month.
13. Relieves Joint Pain
High levels of uric acid in the blood lead to joint pain. Prominent baking soda uses include alleviating joint pain by neutralising the acid in the blood and urine. Thus it helps treat painful and chronic conditions like gout and arthritis.
14. Relief from Urinary Tract Infections
Baking soda helps cut down the acidic content of urine which is often associated with frequent recurrence of urinary tract infections in women. Consumption of baking soda can help neutralise acid levels in urine.
15. Keeps Obesity in Check
Baking soda helps keep a check on sugar cravings. Simply rinsing your mouth with diluted baking soda solution helps sugar cravings to vanish instantly. As excess sugar intake is directly linked to weight gain and obesity, baking soda is good for health as it keeps your sugar intake in check.
Baking Soda Side Effects
Baking soda benefits are far too many. But inappropriate baking soda use can have serious side effects too. Long-term use and large dose intake of baking soda can lead to:
- Digestive issues
- Kidney failure
- Slow and shallow breathing
Severe cases of baking soda poisoning can result in a ruptured stomach. Baking soda uses in children can lead to toxicity. Also, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should abstain from drinking baking soda.
Baking soda is a versatile ingredient. While baking soda uses in cooking are most pronounced, its actual uses extend far beyond cooking. Baking soda health benefits include alleviating heartburn, protecting kidneys, and controlling UTI infections. Its whitening properties make its use effective as a skin and teeth whitening agent. Its exfoliating properties make baking soda an important ingredient in skincare and hair care routines. Baking soda is safe for external use but excessive use and long-term drinking of baking soda can have serious health implications.