You probably keep a box of baking soda in the back of your fridge and break it out when you need to make a batch of cookies for your family. You may have taken it when your stomach hurt or cleaned your laundry with it, too. And you may have even combined baking soda and vinegar in a school science project way back in the day. (Spoiler: It “explodes” in fizz.) Baking soda is a staple in practically every household, but how much do you really know about this seemingly simple ingredient?
What Is Baking Soda, and How Did It Become the Household Staple It Is Today?
Baking soda is an alkaline white powder that’s ubiquitous in modern kitchens. Its rise is largely credited to one big brand. In 1846, two brothers-in-law, Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight, teamed up to distribute baking soda. (1)
The product, which was made in Dwight’s kitchen, was called Arm & Hammer Church & Co’s bicarbonate of soda. By 1860, Arm & Hammer wanted to show the population just how versatile the ingredient was. They began to distribute mini-cookbooks, with recipes for bread, cakes, cookies, puddings, and more — some of which were family recipes. (Want to see the 34th edition? Check it out here.) Funnily enough, “Do not buy baking powder” was one featured section! (2)
By the 1920s, Arm & Hammer was advertised in women’s magazines in an effort to spread its popularity. (1) According to the company, it was in 1972 that people everywhere started stashing a box of baking soda in their refrigerator to keep things fresh.
When used in baking, baking soda acts as a chemical leavener, producing carbon dioxide in reaction to an acid (like vinegar), which produces bubbles that help the cake or cookie rise to tender, moist, and fluffy perfection. (3)
How Is Baking Soda Made Exactly?
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, an ingredient that got its start 4 million years ago when salt lakes around the world evaporated and formed trona deposits. (4) Trona is the rock that’s processed into soda ash (sodium carbonate), a naturally occurring mineral. Soda ash can then also be processed to make baking soda. (5) The world’s largest deposit of trona is in Wyoming. The area produced 17 million tons of the mineral in 2015, for export around the world.
What’s in Baking Soda?
The only ingredient in baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.
What Baking Soda May Be Able to Do for Your Health
Traditionally, baking soda is a popular antacid for heartburn and indigestion because it can neutralize stomach acid. (6) You can add ½ teaspoon (tsp) in ½ cup of water to help ease heartburn. (7) A warning, however: baking soda is high in sodium. Just ½ tsp contains 629 mg of sodium. (8) Considering that the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, ½ tsp of baking soda will supply about one-quarter of that limit. (9) It’s recommended that you don’t take baking soda or sodium bicarbonate for more than two weeks without an okay from your doctor. (6)
In some interesting research results, it’s possible that baking soda consumption may boost your workout. One small study, on 13 young men, found that those who drank a baking soda solution before a high-intensity intermittent training session improved performance, lowered fatigue, and felt as if they weren’t working out as hard compared with those who didn’t consume baking soda. (10) The effects are comparable to those of drinking caffeine pre-exercise, the authors say. Other research indicates it may also bolster strength-based exercises, helping you eke out a few extra reps, too. (11)
Finally, baking soda may be a valuable weapon against autoimmune conditions in the future. Research shows that when consumed, the antacid action of baking soda may help shift pro-inflammatory immune cells in the body to those who fight inflammation, something that may one day help treat disease. (12,13)EDITOR’S PICKS ON BAKING SODA USES
What Baking Soda Definitely Can’t Do for Your Health
Baking soda is one of those ingredients that people claim as a cure-all for a variety of health conditions and diseases. But the truth is there’s scant research backing up large claims, such as the idea that it’s a treatment for cancer. At least one study, in mice, did find that baking soda could possibly help improve the body’s reaction to cancer therapy. (14,15)
Yet that doesn’t mean a cancer patient can treat his or her condition at home or eschew traditional treatments. For one thing, this research is in its beginning stages — it’s only in mice, and research is needed in people to see what effect, if any, baking soda can have. At this point, it’s too big of a leap to suggest that baking soda is a treatment for cancer.
Can Baking Soda Help You Lose Weight?
There are no research trials to suggest that baking soda can help boost metabolism or prompt your body to burn more fat. It may help you get more out of your workout. But there are so many factors that go into the relationship between exercise and weight loss, this is not something you can count on making a big enough difference. What’s more, given how high in sodium baking soda is, it’s possible drinking too much may leave you bloated.MORE ON LOSING WEIGHT
What Are Some Surprising Uses for Baking Soda?
Baking soda is considered a versatile product for good reason. Here are just some of its many uses.
As a produce wash Forget the pricey, fancy produce washes on the market. A simple baking soda and water soak for 12 to 15 minutes is enough to remove 80 and 96 percent of certain pesticides from apples — better than tap water alone or bleach. Baking soda helps degrade certain pesticides so they can be washed away. (16)
As a natural cleaner A mixture of baking soda and water can be used as an effective, nonabrasive cleaner. One use: to wipe away old food residues from the inside of a refrigerator. (17) You can also sprinkle baking soda down the drain with hot water to freshen up your pipes, clean your tubs, sinks, and shower curtain, and buff out scuff marks from floors. (18) Oh, and don’t forget, it’s a top-notch deodorizer. Sprinkle baking soda on a carpet, let it sit, and vacuum it — and the offending stink — up.
To safely clean pots and pans When cooked food stays stuck to the pan, the American Cleaning Institute recommends adding baking soda to the pan, filling with hot water, and soaking for 15 to 30 minutes. The baking soda will help lift the crusty food pieces. (19)
To wash clothes Adding ½ cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle will freshen up clothes — without all the chemicals in other products. (18)
To help ease heartburn For the occasional heartburn episode, add ½ teaspoon to ½ cup of water and drink. The alkaline baking soda will neutralize excess acid. (7)
Care for bug bites You know that annoying itchiness from bug bites? Rather than reach for a hydrocortisone cream, you can find relief by applying a paste of baking soda (mix baking soda with a little water until you get the right consistency) to the bite several times a day, suggests the Mayo Clinic. (20)
To care for your teeth during pregnancy Morning sickness happens. Along with the discomfort of queasiness, the stomach acid that goes along with vomiting can wear away at your tooth enamel. If you’re saddled with occasional or regular vomiting, rinse your mouth with 1 tsp of baking soda mixed with water. (21) You can also do this when sickness (like food poisoning) is causing vomiting.
Treat nail infections If you have a mild nail infection, you may consider a baking soda and water soak, as baking soda has antifungal properties. (22)
Ease discomfort during cancer treatment Swishing your mouth with a combination of 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 quart of water can help ease any throat discomfort caused by radiation or chemotherapy. This mixture may also help prevent mouth sores from getting infected. Just be sure to gargle the solution — don’t swallow it, the American Cancer Society points out. (23)
Side Effects and Health Risks of Baking Soda
There are a few problems to keep in mind should you overconsume baking soda…Continue Reading…@ https://www.everydayhealth.com
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