Often it is easy to ignore the effect natural or common compounds can have on your health. Baking soda has been used in everything from cleaning products to baked goods and medicine. For most people, this natural compound is benign or even helpful, but if you are concerned about your blood pressure, it might be time to consider how baking soda is affecting you.
According to the National Institutes of Health, high blood pressure, or hypertension, affects nearly 50 million Americans and is a leading factor in the development of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. Blood pressure is the amount of force blood is exerting on your blood vessels. Extra fluid, narrowing of blood vessels and extra areas of circulation can all cause blood pressure to increase.
Baking Soda Composition
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It is made up of sodium, hydrogen and carbon. Of these three elements, the sodium is of particular concern with regard to blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, 1 teaspoon of baking soda contains 1,000 mg sodium.
Sodium's Effect on Blood Pressure
Some people are more sensitive to sodium's effects on blood pressure than others. Sodium and potassium work together to control the movement of fluids between cells. Water tends to follow sodium, which pulls more fluid into circulation, increasing blood pressure. This is especially true of those with decreased kidney function, who are more susceptible to baking soda's effect on blood pressure.
Sources of Sodium Bicarbonate
Baking soda is in many baked goods, including breads, cakes and brownies; the compound is also used to make soft drinks bubble. It can also be found in antacid medications, toothpastes and even as a minute part of many food coloring agents. More recently, baking soda has become a health supplement for the prevention of urinary tract disorders.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. DASH encourages the decrease of daily sodium intake, including that found in baking soda. However, the DASH diet also stresses the importance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which lowers blood pressure better just lowering sodium intake, partly because the diet increases potassium, which helps balance the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
Always consult your physician if you are concerned about any aspect of your health. Do not suddenly change your diet without consulting either a physician or a licensed nutritionist.