Indeed, the container of baking soda that’s been hanging out in the back of your fridge for far too long contains the mineral sodium bicarbonate, which has been linked to easing digestion and even boosting cardiovascular health. But there are some important caveats to note about drinking baking soda, especially when it comes to your stomach.
- Britt Brandon, CPT, certified personal trainer and certified fitness nutrition specialist
- Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, registered dietitian and author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen
- Jennifer Christman, MHA, RDN, LDN, CPT, director of clinical nutrition at OPTAVIA
- Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, registered dietitian and prenatal and postnatal health expert
Ahead, we delve into the potential benefits of drinking baking soda with the input of several registered dietitians to learn if the hype is science-backed or snake oil. Plus, how much you should consume it (if any at all).
So, is it safe to drink baking soda water?
Although the mere thought of consuming baking soda might sound a little (okay, a lot) off putting, registered dietitians say it’s nothing to be afraid of—at least not when done correctly. What's more, according to Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of the upcoming book Everyday Snack Tray, for most folks, it’s usually safe to drink.
Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, echoes the general safety of drinking baking soda, but highlights that it can pose some risks if consumed in excess. “There have been reports of toxicity when people ingest baking soda, but generally, with an appropriate serving, it can be okay,” Manaker says.
Like most things in life, moderation is key.
What does baking soda do for the body?
Now that we’ve cleared the air and we understand that consuming baking soda (in moderation) is typically okay, let’s delve into what it actually does in the body once it’s ingested. According to Jennifer Christman, MHA, RDN, LDN, CPT, the director of clinical nutrition at OPTAVIA, it all boils down to a little science. “Some people find that drinking water with a spoonful of baking soda helps relieve indigestion. That’s because baking soda—which is sodium bicarbonate—is a base that can, if used in certain quantities, lower the pH of an acidic solution,” Christman says.
For context, Christman explains that the gastric juices in the stomach are acidic, which is essential for breaking down the foods we eat. However, for those all too familiar with acid reflux, a little help from the neutralizing properties of baking soda can potentially relieve the symptoms of indigestion or a sour stomach.
5 reasons to drink a spoonful of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water
While relieving indigestion might be the first benefit of drinking baking soda that comes to mind (yep, it’s one of the main ingredients in Alka-Seltzer), Brandon penned a book called Baking Soda for Health, which outlines five (!) baking soda benefits to consider.
1. To improve your digestive system
Trouble with digestion is the type of thing that can derail your day (especially if you are one to get nervous). So, if you're prone to mild tummy woes or just want to boost your overall well-being, Brandon recommends dissolving a teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of water in the morning to help maintain a healthy pH balance throughout the digestive system for optimal digestion, minimized acid reflux, and healthy bowel functioning.
2. To promote cardiovascular health
A compromised cardiovascular system can lead to decreased energy and negatively impact cognitive functioning, digestion, and immunity. What’s more, Brandon adds that chronic conditions can arise from a weakened cardiovascular system. “Circulatory issues can lead to the possibility of serious health conditions such as heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and the development of various blood issues,” Brandon says. As such, she recommends consuming a teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of water daily may help improve blood flow.
3. To reduce built-up gas
Once you know that you're dealing with a built-up gas (and not inflammation), Brandon says a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in four to six ounces of water can potentially help alleviate the discomfort. “By returning the pH to neutral levels, the body’s gases can be calmed, and the digestive processes, acids, and enzymes can return to their natural state; and foods can be broken down normally without issues and disruptions,” Brandon says.
4. To keep your kidneys healthy
The kidneys are vital to many bodily functions—such as helping rid the body of toxins and promoting healthy hormone production. In a 2021 systemic review, researchers found baking soda may help slow chronic kidney disease progression1.
According to Brandon, a daily cup of water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda, can help regulate your body's pH level and improve hormone balance, nutrient absorption, and blood quality—all of which can help kidneys stay happy and healthy.
5. To combat acid reflux
If you chronically suffer from acid reflux, you might consider adopting certain diet shifts to help lower heartburn as a long-term solution. But when you're dealing with a bout of it in real-time, Brandon says half a teaspoon of baking soda with half a cup of water can help you find immediate relief against gastric acid symptoms. Of course, drinking baking soda for heartburn is far from now. (Hi, Alka-Seltzer.)
Downsides of drinking water with baking soda (and an imperative caveat to note)
Brandon does, however, warn against overdoing it when it comes to this combination. "As with any antacid medication, if you take too much baking soda, you will neutralize the acid in your stomach. This can result in your stomach producing more acid to compensate, causing you to take more baking soda, and thus forming a vicious cycle,” Brandon says.
"As with any antacid medication, if you take too much baking soda, you will neutralize the acid in your stomach. This can result in your stomach producing more acid to compensate, causing you to take more baking soda, and thus forming a vicious cycle,” Brandon says.
How much baking soda is safe per day?
Although there is some evidence supporting the benefits of drinking baking soda, Manaker, Largeman-Roth, and Christman agree that the scientific data to support these claims is few and far between. So, before drinking baking soda in coffee or in any other one of your drinks, for that matter, the nutrition experts advise being modest with your daily baking soda consumption.
For instance, Largeman-Roth recommends starting off no more than with a quarter of a teaspoon (at most) dissolved in a full eight-ounce glass of water to treat indigestion. “There is a lack of scientific evidence about regularly drinking water with baking soda for overall health and well-being. So, before beginning any new health regimen, it’s best to consult your doctor to evaluate what is best for you,” Christman says.
Who should not drink baking soda?
Largeman-Roth also points out that baking soda contains a lot of sodium. “Just one teaspoon racks up a stunning 1,260 milligrams of sodium, so using it as a home remedy isn’t a good idea if you have high blood pressure or need to restrict sodium,” she says. In addition to the high sodium levels, baking soda is alkaline, which she says can alter the way in which some medications are absorbed or the way they work altogether. For safety measures, Largeman-Roth advises folks to avoid drinking baking soda within two hours of other medications. Additionally, the registered dietitian says children and people who are pregnant should also refrain from drinking baking soda and reiterates that baking soda in large quantities can be detrimental to one's health.
Although baking soda can offer a quick-fix solution for some ailments (similar to lemon water), the three registered dietitians say it’s important to find (and address) the root cause of the issue with a healthcare professional, especially if it's constant. Remember: Overuse of the ingredient can potentially have the opposite effect over time. “When used occasionally, it’s a quick fix for an upset stomach. But due to its effect on stomach acid, taking baking soda too often could actually stimulate your stomach to produce more acid in the long run,” Largeman-Roth says. “For people with stomach concerns, it’s best to consult with a health care provider to determine what the root cause is before self-treating with baking soda water,” Manaker says.
Having trouble with digestion? This herbal remedy can help:
- Hultin, Sebastian et al. “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on Effects of Bicarbonate Therapy on Kidney Outcomes.” Kidney International Reports, vol. 6, no. 3, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ekir.2020.12.019.
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