Many of us think of baking soda as little more than a vital part of the recipe to make cakes and cookies.
But, a new study found the ingredient plays a far more important role: It can help save lives.
Older people with low levels of bicarbonate – which is found in baking soda – have a 24 per cent higher risk of dying an early death, scientists revealed.
The finding suggests increasing bicarbonate levels can prolong a person’s life.
Study author Dr Kalani Raphael, of the University of Utah, said: ‘What we found was that generally healthy older people with low levels of bicarbonate had a higher risk of death.’
Bicarbonate, a main component of baking powder, reduces the risk of premature death, scientists revealed. Older people with low bicarbonate levels are 24 per cent more likely to die young, a study found
The kidneys and lungs work together by varying the levels of bicarbonate – a base – and carbon dioxide – an acid – in the blood.
That helps keep the body’s pH in a healthy range, which allows cells and organs to work properly.
Critically ill patients with severe acid-base abnormalities have a very low likelihood of surviving their illness, according to the study.
Yet, it has been unclear whether more subtle changes to the body’s acid-base status affect the longevity of relatively healthy older people.
A team of scientists investigated how measurements of pH, carbon dioxide and bicarbonate are associated with long-term survival in healthy older people.
They analyzed data from 2,287 participants in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.
That data focused on well-functioning black and white adults between the ages of 70 and 79.
Data started being collected in 1997 – with collection efforts extending through February 2014.
Each of the participants were followed for an average of 10.3 years.
Scientists recommend people with low levels of bicarbonate should increase their intake of foods that produce it in the body, including fruits and vegetables
The study found that people with normal or high bicarbonate levels had a similar risk of dying during follow-up.
But those with low levels faced higher risks of premature death.
Dr Raphael said: ‘Adding the pH measurement into the equation didn’t change the results, which is important because pH is not routinely measured.’
Because of the study’s results, blood bicarbonate concentrations – which are already commonly measured – may allow clinicians to better identify people with a higher risk of premature death.
Those with low bicarbonate levels may benefit from increasing their intake of foods that produce bicarbonate in the body – including fruits and vegetables, according to the scientists.
The study was published in the Clinical Journal of American Nephrology.