The latest fitness craze is creating a buzz on social media and in the news. Perhaps “buzz” is the wrong word to use here since the new trend is for drinking bicarbonate of soda which actually fizzes when you combine it with an acid such as vinegar.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Bicarbonate of soda is more commonly known as baking soda. One of the most popular brands comes in a bright orangy-yellow box with blue letters. However, the house baking soda will do just as well (and for less money) since all baking soda is created equally.
Baking soda is an alkaline (in chemistry, a base) white powder. Without getting too technical, bicarbonate of soda is made from a rock called trona that is found around dry salt lakes. Soda ash (sodium carbonate) is made from trona. Baking soda is made from soda ash. That’s all there is to it.
Pop quiz! Where is the world’s largest trona deposit? Answer: Wyoming, the Equal Rights state.
When baked, it leavens bread – which is to say, it makes it rise so biscuits turn out nice and moist and fluffy.
When the chemical base baking soda is mixed with any acid, such as vinegar or orange juice, it reacts with popping and fizzing, as mentioned before. This can be a fun – if messy – pastime to amuse kids of all ages.
Plus, a combination of baking soda and vinegar is an old home remedy to unclog a sink. It may take repeated doses to achieve the desired effect of free-running water.
When taken internally – eaten or drunk – baking soda will neutralize excess stomach acids that cause heartburn and indigestion. Simply mix one-half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in one-half cup of water. The proportions are one-to-one so if you want to make more, just match the amounts of water and baking soda, and that will do the trick.
Baking soda is high in sodium (salt). That half-teaspoon contains 629mg of sodium, which is about one-fourth of the daily recommended amount. Use less salt on your food and in recipes to prevent health problems:
“Too much salt increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Decreasing sodium intake could prevent many deaths,” according to the State of Rhode Island Department of Health.
Now, athletes are setting a new fitness trend by drinking bi-carb soda water. One of my social media sources is quite fit. He rates it highly in his recent post:
“Very good stuff. It gives you more stamina, cleanses, alertness and is great for the pH in the body. It also speeds up the process of getting rid of the old cells in the body.”
My source says he is “a big guy, 6′ 3″ tall, 137 kg [302 lb] without shoes on.” He combines one heaped teaspoon per 1.5-liter bottle of water and chugs down two of those “first thing in the morning.”
Athletes are quaffing common baking soda mixed with water as a performance enhancement beverage before working out or a competitive match.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that drinking baking soda before an event made tennis players more accurate for a longer period of time.
Increased performance and delayed fatigue can be enjoyed by anyone who engages in intermittent high-intensity exercise, including bicycling and weight lifting.
The science behind drinking baking soda and water is that the two work together to neutralize the lactic acid in the blood – which is what causes muscle pain and fatigue.
Dr. Ronald Deitrick presented the findings from his small study to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Dr. Deitrick showed that competitive runners can benefit from swallowing a sodium bicarbonate capsule before a race.
800-meter runners took either a placebo (a substance with no intended therapeutic value) or a dose of baking soda with water. A few runners reported “minor gastrointestinal problems” after taking the baking soda, but “a greater number benefited significantly.”
Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer is currently ranked #3 in the world for men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). This man’s achievements are remarkable: he won 20 Grand Slam singles titles (the most in history for a male player) and has held the world No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record total of 310 weeks, including a record 237 consecutive weeks.
My online source gushed about the virtues of bi-carb soda for athletic performance enhancement:
“Roger Federer uses it. I need say no more. Plus it doubles your stamina.”
Baking soda works so well for improving athletic performance that Dr. Deitrick believes it has no place in competitive sport:
“It comes down to whether or not the athlete has a competitive advantage by taking an aid. And in the case of sodium bicarbonate, I believe the answer is yes. It violates the spirit of fair play by artificially enhancing performance.”
Bear in mind that when stomach acids become neutralized (inert), the stomach starts to produce more acids to aid the break-down of food during digestion.
Moderation is the key here, as with so many things in life. Talk to your healthcare provider if you ingest baking soda for more than two weeks. A blood test might be recommended to check levels of sodium and acidity.