Drinking more water is top of the list for supporting health. Keeping well hydrated is essential for immune health, skin condition, encouraging bowel regularity, flushing out toxins and minimising headaches. In my effort to encourage clients to consume more water, a question I am regularly asked is whether Sparkling ‘fizzy’ water is good or bad. Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE at Authority Nutrition, has brought together some related research, to enable us to drink sparkling mineral water with a clear conscience! The article helpfully starts with identifying the difference between the not-so-healthy soda waters and tonic waters, compared to pure, sparkling mineral water.
Extracts from Spritzler’s article:
Carbonated water is a refreshing beverage and a good alternative to sugary soft drinks. However, concerns have been raised that it may be bad for your health. This article takes a detailed look at the health effects of carbonated water.
What is Carbonated Water?
Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. This produces a bubbly drink that’s also known as sparkling water, club soda, soda water, seltzer water and fizzy water. With the exception of seltzer water, they usually have salt added to improve the taste. Sometimes small amounts of other minerals are included.
Natural sparkling mineral waters, such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, are different. These waters are captured naturally from a mineral spring, and tend to contain minerals and sulphur compounds. These waters are often carbonated as well.
Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound calledquinine, along with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
Carbonated Water is Acidic
Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid that’s been shown to stimulate the same nerve receptors in your mouth as mustard. This triggers a burning, prickly sensation that can be both irritating and enjoyable for many people .
The pH of carbonated water is 3–4, which means it’s slightly acidic. However, drinking an acidic beverage like carbonated water does not make your body more acidic. Your kidneys and lungs remove excess carbon dioxide. This keeps your blood at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35–7.45, regardless of what you eat or drink.
Does it Affect Dental Health?
One of the biggest concerns about sparkling water is its effect on teeth, since the enamel is directly exposed to acid. There is very little research on this topic, but one study found that sparkling mineral water damaged enamel only slightly more than still water. Furthermore, it was 100 times less damaging than a sugary soft drink.
…Plain sparkling water appears to pose little risk to dental health. It’s only the sugary types that are harmful. If you’re concerned about dental health, try drinking sparkling water with a meal or rinsing your mouth with plain water after drinking it.
It May Increase Feelings of Fullness
Carbonated water may also help you feel full longer than plain water does. Sparkling water may help food remain in the first part of the stomach for longer, which can trigger a sensation of fullness. I
It May Help Relieve Constipation
People who experience constipation may find that drinking sparkling water helps relieve their symptoms. In a two-week study of 40 elderly people who had suffered strokes, average bowel movement frequency nearly doubled in the group that drank carbonated water, compared to the group that drank tap water. What’s more, the participants reported a 58% decrease in symptoms.
There’s also evidence that sparkling water may improve other symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pain.
Does Carbonated Water Affect Bone Health?
Many people believe that carbonated beverages are bad for bones because of their high acid content. However, research suggests the carbonation isn’t to blame. A large observational study of more than 2,500 people found that cola was the only beverage associated with significantly lower bone mineral density. Carbonated water appeared to have no effect on bone health.
Unlike carbonated water and clear soda, cola drinks contain a lot of phosphorus. The researchers proposed that the cola drinkers may have been consuming too much phosphorus and not enough calcium. This is a potential risk factor for bone loss.
Does it Affect Heart Health?
There’s very limited research on how carbonated water affects heart health, but the existing evidence is positive. In the same group of 18 postmenopausal women from the bone health study, the researchers measured indicators of heart health. Those who drank sodium-rich carbonated water had a decrease in LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, inflammatory markers and blood sugar. What’s more, they also had an increase in HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
Additionally, the estimated risk of developing heart disease within 10 years was 35% lower for those drinking the carbonated water, compared to the control water. However, since this was only one small study, a lot more research needs to be done before drawing conclusions.
So is Carbonated Water Actually Bad For You?
There is currently no evidence that carbonated or sparkling water is bad for you. It is not really that harmful for dental health and seems to have no effect on bone health. Interestingly, a carbonated drink may even enhance digestion by improving swallowing ability and reducing constipation.
It’s also a calorie-free beverage that causes a pleasurable bubbly sensation. Many people prefer it over still water. There’s no reason to give up this beverage if you enjoy it. In fact, it may actually improve your overall health.
Read the full article with footnotes here