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Sparkling Water: Good or Bad for your Health?

Sparkling waters are incredibly trendy right now. They’re tasteful, refreshing and you have unlimited flavors to choose from! I told myself I wasn't going to hop on the la criox train, and then I caved in quarantine!

Questions I am frequently asked by clients:

Is sparkling water bad for me in any way? And can it count towards my hydration goal?

Let’s break down these trendy drinks:

What exactly is Sparkling Water? Sparkling, also known as carbonated water, is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. This produces a bubbly drink that tastes delicious to most of us. Other names for these bubbly drinks are club soda, soda water, seltzer water, and fizzy water.

Apart from seltzer water, carbonated waters usually have salt added to improve their taste. Sometimes small amounts of other minerals are also included. If you look on the nutrition label, you will see roughly about 5 mg of sodium in carbonated waters, whereas seltzers will likely have 0 mg sodium.

There are also natural sparkling mineral waters, some common brands are Perrier and San Pellegrino. These natural sparkling waters are a little different as they have been filtered from a mineral spring and usually contain natural minerals and sulfur compounds. They are often carbonated as well.

And then there is Tonic water. It is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound called quinine, which comes from the bark of the cinchona tree. Usually sugar or high fructose corn syrup is added to tonic water as well.

Now that you know what sparkling water is, let's talk about how it can impact your health.

Is Carbonated Water too Acidic?

The pH of carbonated water is 3–4, which means it’s slightly acidic. Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce a weak carbonic acid. If you drink carbonated water too fast it can give you hiccups or indigestion. See here:

Drinking an acidic beverage like carbonated water does not make your body more acidic. Your kidneys and lungs are amazing organs and remove excess carbon dioxide from your body! This keeps your blood at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35–7.45 regardless of what you eat or drink. There is NO cleanse to get rid of acidity in your body. Your organs do this for you! If your body where to fall out of homeostasis, your would die. Trust your body, it's an amazing thing.

How Does Carbonated Water Affect my Teeth?

One of the biggest concerns about sparkling water is its impact on dental health, as your enamel is directly exposed to acid. I even asked my dentist about this concern before I did my own research.

There is limited research on this topic, but one study found that sparkling mineral waters such as Perrier and San Pellegrino damaged enamel only slightly more than still water. BUT, mineral water was 100 times less damaging to enamel compared to soft drinks! Mainly due to acidity and sugar content in sodas.

In fact, one study shows that non-carbonated sweetened beverages, such as a sports drink, was more harmful to oral health than a carbonated sugar-free drink (diet soda), likely from the sugar content. A review of several studies found that the combination of sugar and carbonation may lead to severe dental decay. However, plain sparkling water appears to pose little risk to dental health. Only the sugary types are proven to be harmful to your teeth.

Bottom Line: Sparkling waters should be okay for your dental health. Sugary beverages are the drinks to be weary of. If you have additional concerns, reach out to your dentist for their professional opinion!

How Does Sparkling Water Impact Bone Health?

Many individuals believe the acid in sparkling water is bad for bone health. But research suggest the opposite! In a large study over 2,500 people found that cola was the only beverage associated with significantly lower bone mineral density, while carbonated waters appeared to have no effect on bone health. This is likely due to the higher phosphorus levels in cola. Phosphorus works with calcium and vitamin D in your body to keep your bones healthy and strong. To do this, your body's phosphorus, calcium and vitamin D all need to be in balance. When you have too much phosphorus in your blood, it causes your body to pull calcium from your bones to try and keep your blood balanced.

How does Sparkling Water Impact Digestion?

1. Interestingly, studies suggest that sparkling water may improve swallowing ability in both young and older adults. In one study, 72 people who felt a persistent need to clear their throats noted that drinking ice-cold carbonated water led to improvements of swallowing in 63% of participants. Participants with the most frequent, severe symptoms experienced the greatest relief. There have been a handful of other studies completed on sparkling waters and swallowing, but they have limitations.

2. Sparkling water may increase feelings of fullness.

Sparkling water may help food remain in your stomach longer, which can likely trigger a greater sensation of fullness. There have been a few small studies done on this topic. However, larger studies are needed to confirm these results. I DO NOT RECOMMEND drinking sparkling water to fill you up. This can lead to unhealthy habits, low blood sugars, under fueling, etc. I recommend drinking sparkling water solely for the enjoyment of taste and hydration purposes.

3. Sparkling water may help relieve constipation symptoms.

I highly recommend utilizing fiber in foods as a tactic to relieve constipation over sparkling water, but there have been a handful of studies of people experiencing constipation finding that drinking sparkling water helped relieve their symptoms.

There’s also evidence that sparkling water may improve other symptoms of indigestion, including a mild upset stomach, which in turn, is similar to drinking a sprite for an upset stomach.

Conclusion : No evidence suggests that carbonated or sparkling water is bad for you and there’s no reason to give up drinking sparkling water if you enjoy it! Sparkling water adds variety away from still water and can help increase your hydration needs!

In fact, I love sparkling water so much that I asked for a soda stream for my birthday. Now I can make my own flavors and drink sparkling water any time. If I do buy sparkling water, my favorite flavor is limoncello!

What’s your favorite flavor of sparkling water?

Do you have any additional questions about sparkling water? shoot me an email:

Christina Ellenberg is a Registered Dietitian and Strength and Conditioning Specialist located in the Atlanta Metro Area.

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