We are all aware that fizzy cola drinks are bad for health. There are many reports that sodas can rot our teeth, lead to weight gain and cause diabetes. Many people recommend carbonated or sparkling water as the healthier alternative. But is carbonated water equally bad for health? Let us find out.
What is carbonated or sparkling water?
Carbonated water goes with many names like sparkling water, seltzer water or soda water. It is merely plain water that is infused with carbon dioxide under pressure. While carbonation may occur naturally in mineral water and cause the sparkling effect, not all mineral waters are naturally sparkling.
Types of sparkling water
Here’s a guide to the different kinds of sparkling waters –
Seltzer water contains plain water with added carbon dioxide. Seltzer is a very clean tasting sparkling water, though it also comes in different flavors like citrus. It is used for everyday drinking and in cocktails. It can also be used as a substitute for club soda.
Club soda contains plain water with added ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, potassium sulfate and disodium phosphate. It also has added carbon dioxide. It has the slight taste of the minerals present and can be used for everyday drinking and cocktails.
Tonic water is different from other sparkling waters as it is sweetened. It contains sugar or high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, quinine and natural flavors. Quinine gives a bitter taste to this water.
Sparkling mineral water
It contains natural spring or well water with minerals like salts and sulfur compounds. In some cases, the carbonation is natural, while in other instances carbon dioxide is added to it.
Due to the presence of minerals, this water has a distinctive taste depending on the source of the water. It can be used for everyday drinking though it is not recommended for use in cocktails because of its unique flavor.
Health Benefits of carbonated water
The healthiest variety is carbonated water is sparkling mineral water. Not only does it hydrate you, but it also provides you health benefits of its natural minerals.
- Also read: How Much Water Should I Drink a Day?
It is advisable to stay away from carbonated water that contains added flavors or colors. Sparkling water can be beneficial for our health.
1. Rich in minerals
According to FDA, natural mineral waters must contain at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids originating from any geologically and physically protected underground water source (1).
Depending on the source of the water, sparkling mineral water can contain varying amounts of magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Since these minerals exist as free ions in the mineral water, they are readily absorbed by the body.
According to a recent study, the bioavailability of calcium in mineral water is better than that of dairy products. So, mineral water is the ideal way of adding minerals to your body.
2. Relieves upset stomach
Carbonated water can help reduce symptoms of upset stomach like nausea, indigestion and bloating. According to a report published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, drinking a glass of carbonated water can ease symptoms of dyspepsia like bloating, nausea and vomiting (2).
3. Helpful in treating constipation
Constipation can lead to gas, bloating and painful bowel movements. Fluids are as crucial as fiber in alleviating the symptoms of this ailment.
According to research, people who drink carbonated water are less likely to develop constipation as compared to those who don’t. According to one 2014 report, people who have Parkinson’s disease are more likely to develop constipation.
This study also observed that sparkling water is helpful in treating stroke victims suffering from constipation (3).
4. Improves glycemic control
Mineral water contains bicarbonate, which is helpful in maintaining the healthy ph of the blood. According to a 2015 study having bicarbonate-rich mineral water also helps in improved glycemic control (4).
During this study of 19 participants, researchers found that drinking mineral water leads to a significant decline in serum glycoalbumin levels.
5. Treats motion sickness
If you suffer from motion sickness while traveling in a car, bus, plane or boat, you should keep a bottle of cold mineral water handy. Carbonated drinks without caffeine are known for their ability to calm your unease (5).
5. Can help you transition from unhealthy sodas
If you are a soda drinker but are finding it difficult to give up these unhealthy beverages, carbonated water may be just the solution for you. Add a bit of lemon to your sparkling water for that extra flavor.
6. Keeps you hydrated
Water is essential for good health. It helps to keep the digestive system healthy, prevents fluid retention and keeps us full between meals. Unfortunately, most of us do not drink enough water.
Carbonated water is as healthy as plain water, so adding it to your daily routine can keep you hydrated.
Some frequently asked questions about sparkling water
1. Does carbonated water leech calcium from our bones?
No, this is a myth. Carbonated water does not increase calcium loss in the bones. In 2006, a study was done to determine the effect of colas and other carbonated beverages on bone mineral density.
The researchers discovered that while Cola consumption did lower bone mineral density, other drinks did not have the same effect. Colas contain phosphorus, and this can cause loss of calcium through the kidneys (6).
Another study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation in 2001 found that though mineral water has a slight erosive effect on teeth than still water, it is 100 times less than soda. Researchers found that sparkling water has the ph level between 5 and 6 (it is slightly acidic) as compared to water which is neutral at 7.
2. Does carbonated water cause irritable bowel syndrome?
Though carbonated water does not cause irritable bowel syndrome, it can lead to gas and cause bloating. It does not erode the lining of your stomach or cause constipation.
However, if you are sensitive to carbonated drinks or you have stomach issues, you should avoid them as it may cause IBS.
3. Is carbonated water as hydrating as plain water?
Yes, carbonated water is as hydrating as plain water. So if you do not lake the taste of plain water, you can keep yourself hydrated by drinking carbonated water.
Some reports suggest that you should also avoid drinking carbonated water after a workout as the gas will make you feel full, and you may end up drinking less water.
You can quickly rectify this problem by sipping on more of this water through the day.
4. Can carbonated water cause weight gain?
According to research, the carbon dioxide in carbonated water can trigger hunger hormone. A recent animal study found that carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages induces the hunger hormone ghrelin and increases food consumption (7).
When your ghrelin levels are high, you tend to feel hungrier and are likely to eat more.
While sparkling water is just water and carbon dioxide, seltzer water contains sodium and other flavors. These additives can add extra calories and can lead to weight gain.
Check the label
Not all carbonated water is created equal. Watch out for hidden additives like sodium, sugar and other flavors, which may have adverse effects.
Tonic water contains sweeteners and flavors. Club soda contains sodium, but seltzer water doesn’t. Flavored sparkling water may have citric acid or natural sweeteners, along with caffeine and sodium.
Though plain water is still the best beverage when it comes to hydration and health, carbonated water is not the devil it is made out to be. It is quite safe to drink and does not cause any significant side effects.
Not only is drinking sparkling water an excellent way to stay hydrated, but it can also relieve upset stomachs, relieve constipation and treat motion sickness.