A woman reportedly went brain dead and nearly died after attempting a “soy sauce cleanse,” meaning, she drank a liter of soy sauce (not soy milk) over a two-hour period, according to reports.
As it’s been known for thousands of years, soy sauce is very high in salt or sodium, and the idea behind the “cleanse” is that the sodium will leech the toxins out of the body.
But the woman, a 39-year-old who was not identified, went into cardiac arrest after drinking a heroic amount of the condiment. She started to stabilize while in the hospital, as Health.com noted, but she drifted in and out of consciousness.
The woman woke up a few days later and was not able to swallow, speak, or move. She was diagnosed with central pontine myelinolysis, a type of severe nerve damage caused by high intakes of sodium. Namely, central pontine myelinolysis occurs when the sodium levels in the body rise too quickly, pull water from the brain cells, and then cause damage to the nerves, says the National Institutes of Health website.
The NIH said that the condition can become so severe that a person’s muscles can be paralyzed or the person could end up in a coma or worse, die. Some people recover in a few weeks to a month, but some are paralyzed for life.
Chubbyemu, or “Dr. Bernard,” said that a lethal dose of sodium is 40 grams, and he said the woman drank 200 grams of sodium or five times the lethal amount. He said that in most cases, if one drank as much soy sauce as the woman did, one would end up vomiting. “CG had some quality to her that could separate her mind from drinking soy sauce,” he said.
“One of the roles of sodium is to regulate fluid balance in and around cells,” Cynthia Sass, Health contributing nutrition editor, said in the Health.com article. “When so much sodium is ingested so quickly, it completely throws off that balance, which in the case of brain cells can result in severe damage and dysfunction.”
Frances Largeman-Roth, a nutrition expert and the author of “Eating in Color,” stated that many cleanses aren’t that great for a person’s health. “If something sounds too good to be true or a little nutty, like telling you to eat one thing only, then it probably is too good to be true,” she said, according to Insider.
And people who suffer from certain health conditions should watch out.
“People with type 1 or 2 diabetes should avoid cleanses, as well as anyone with a chronic illness, compromised immune system, those recovering from an injury, anyone following a therapeutic diet to manage a specific condition, and people with a history of disordered eating,” Sass told Health.com.
Sass noted that a cleanse can mean different things to different people. For some, cutting out sugar or high-salt foods is a cleanse.
“If a cleanse is balanced, meaning it’s not devoid of macro and micronutrients, and it’s brief, it may be beneficial as a transition step to a long-term healthier eating routine,” Sass added.