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Bicarbonate and digestion: what is the right amount and when to avoid it?

May 16, 2018

Poor digestion, heartburn and acidity: Sodium bicarbonate can have a thousand uses, food and non-food related, but the best known use is certainly related to its digestive properties. Its scientific name is hydrogen sodium carbonate: it is a sodium salt of ascorbic acid that, when dissolved in water, gives rise to a slightly basic solution that can be used to combat various gastric disorders. Let’s see when and how it can be safely used with Dr. Elisabetta Macorsini, nutritional biologist from Humanitas.


An ally of digestion to be used in moderation

Taking one or two teaspoons of bicarbonate a couple of hours after an excessively abundant meal that is difficult to digest, can help neutralize the acidity of the stomach and produce carbon dioxide that promotes the normal physiological process of absorption of food. On the other hand, this salt is able to counteract the absorption of acid drugs and slow down the renal elimination of certain therapies, so it is important to consult your doctor if and when you decide to use it as a remedy, especially when you are undergoing treatment. It should be remembered that bicarbonate has no therapeutic power: it has an effect only on symptoms and can give side effects such as flatulence, stomach cramps, water retention and metabolic alkalosis.


When it is best to avoid it

Although it is the active ingredient of several drugs intended for medical staff to treat metabolic acidosis, shock, and intoxication from barbiturates, salicylates and methanol and hemolytic syndromes, dowsing and hyperuricemias, bicarbonate is not always recommended. Especially if you are on a hyposodic diet, you should avoid taking it because it may cause serious complications such as heart failure, hypertension and kidney dysfunction. It is also available for pregnant women, for whom there are no side effects or dangers from studies carried out on this substance.

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