There’s little doubt that sugary soda is bad for you. It’s been linked to countless problems including obesity, inflammation, and increased risk of diabetes. Diet soda isn’t much better as the sweeteners used, even the natural ones like stevia, are linked to their own potential issues.
Even sparkling water is surprisingly controversial. You mightn’t think so, given it is just water with bubbles. Yet, there are some concerns, including whether the bubbles harm your teeth and the pH of the water. So, what’s the answer? Is sparkling water good for you or not?
Is Sparkling Water Good For You?
- What Is Sparkling Water
- Types Of Sparkling Water
- The Benefits Of Sparkling Water
- Why People Are Concerned About Sparkling Water
- Does Sparkling Water Make You Gain Weight
- Final Thoughts
What Is Sparkling Water?
Sparkling water is simply water that contains dissolved carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide is often artificially added under pressure, but can sometimes occur naturally as well.
The carbon dioxide provides the water with the bubbles that many of us enjoy.
However, as you’ve probably noticed, there are a few variations on the idea. Some products are simply natural water, while others have added ingredients. You’ll even find sparkling water with artificial flavors and sugar – additions that make it much less healthy.
Types Of Sparkling Water
Sparkling water can get a little confusing, as there are many different terms used and they don’t always mean the same thing. We’ve highlighted the main types below, but there may be some differences in the terms and their meaning depending on where you live.
Seltzer or seltzer water is the simplest type of carbonated water. It is just made from water and carbon dioxide. That’s it. Nothing else is added.
Club soda is an artificially carbonated product. It’s similar to seltzer, except that sodium salts and potassium salts can be added in.
The salts help to balance out the acidity of the carbonated water. They also change the flavor profile, making it similar to natural mineral water.
The term soda water has a long history, which might be why it is used in different ways. Some people use the terms soda water and club soda interchangeably, meaning that you get a product with a decent amount of dissolved minerals.
Others assume that soda water and seltzer are roughly the same. So, this time, we’re talking about water with carbon dioxide and nothing else added.
Soda water is a good term to use if you just want carbonated water and don’t care much about the mineral content. But, if you’re particular about the minerals in your drink, you’ll need to choose a more specific term.
Sparkling Mineral Water
As the name suggests, mineral water is water that comes from a mineral spring. For it to be legally considered mineral water, it must contain no less than 250 ppm of total dissolved solids and come from an appropriate water source.
The definition means that the minerals in mineral water are natural, rather than being added in by the company.
Interestingly, the carbonation in mineral water can occur in a few ways. For example, the company Perrier uses naturally carbonated water, but collects the gas and the water from the spring separately, filters them, and recombines them to ensure that the bubbles in the drink are always consistent.
San Pellegrino, on the other hand, uses still mineral water that isn’t naturally carbonated, but they combine it with carbonation from a different natural source.
Natural sparkling mineral water often contains different minerals than manufactured products. They can even contain some sulfur compounds. However, the extra minerals won’t harm you. They may even make you healthier.
Some companies take things a step further and flavor their sparkling water. Sometimes this is as simple as adding in some fruit juice, but other times you may see artificial colors, flavors, and other additives used.
Indeed, commercial soda is basically sparkling water with a large number of additives – to the extent that the drink no longer tastes like water at all.
Not surprisingly, the benefits of sparkling water decrease as extra ingredients are added. To get the most benefits, you’ll need to focus on products with few added ingredients, ideally ones that just rely on water and dissolved minerals.
Tonic water deserves a special mention because it sounds like another type of sparkling water. This isn’t the case at all. Tonic water is basically just a type of soda, one that can contain almost as much sugar as Coca-Cola.
The main difference is that tonic water contains quinine. The quinine gives the drink its distinctive flavor and partly masks the taste of the sugar. Don’t be fooled though – there’s still plenty of sugar, even if you can’t taste it.
Then there’s hard seltzer. It’s starting to become an incredibly popular choice, one that’s lower in calories than many other pre-mixed alcoholic drinks.
As the name suggests, hard seltzer is basically just sparkling water with some type of alcohol added. There’s normally some type of fruit flavoring ingredient too. Some of the products rely on artificial flavors for the fruit taste, while others use real fruit juice instead.
While hard seltzer is healthier than a sugar-packed rum and coke, hard seltzer still isn’t a health drink. After all, it still contains some sugar, the alcohol, and any other added ingredients.
The Benefits Of Sparkling Water
It Will Hydrate You
The biggest benefit of sparkling water is also the most obvious – the water will hydrate you. After all, we’re literally just talking about water that has been carbonated and may have some added minerals, so you’ll still get all the benefits that you find with regular water.
Staying hydrated is incredibly important. After all, our bodies use water for countless processes. If we’re not consuming enough water, then our bodies won’t function as they should.
Even mild dehydration can cause a variety of symptoms, including less energy, decreased performance, concentration difficulties, and headaches. Long-term dehydration can lead to digestive issues, while also having effects on your kidney, heart, and other organs,
Sparkling water is as effective as regular water at hydrating you, so you can choose whichever type of water you prefer.
It’s More Interesting Than Plain Water
Water is incredibly important for health, yet many of us aren’t drinking as much of it as we should. While it sounds silly, one of the issues is simply that water is boring. It doesn’t have much flavor, especially when you compare it to all the other products out there.
Choosing carbonated water over still water is an easy way to make water a little bit more interesting. The difference may be enough to get you drinking water more often.
You can also flavor your water. Adding a splash of lemon or lime juice is one of the simplest options. This gives you a little extra flavor without adding much sugar.
Adding another type of fruit juice can work too. Just be sure to watch the amount you add. After all, a drink that’s half sparkling water and half orange juice won’t have the same benefits as sparkling water with just a splash of orange juice.
It Can Help You Kick A Soda Habit
Sparkling water is clearly much better for you than soda, even diet soda. It also has the fizziness of soda. As such, swapping from soda to sparkling water is one way to get off the soda bandwagon entirely.
If the switch away from sugar is too much, try squeezing a little fruit juice into your sparkling water. This should provide you with just enough flavor and sweetness.
It Might Help With Digestion
Surprising as this may seem, some people find that sparkling water improves their digestion.
This effect may largely be because you’re drinking water. After all, being dehydrated can make your body less efficient at digestion. The bubbles could possibly help as well. Of course, you’ll need to pay attention to how your body responds, as outcomes vary from person to person.
Why People Are Concerned About Sparkling Water
It May Aggravate Irritable Bowel Symptoms
While sparkling water doesn’t appear to have strong impacts on your health, the bubbles may lead to bloating and gas, as some of the carbon dioxide is released in your digestive tract.
This effect may be a problem for some people with irritable bowel syndrome, as the gas may make their symptoms worse. A similar effect could be true for some other people with digestive problems or sensitive stomachs.
However, any effect will be specific to the individual. You’ll need to experiment with sparkling water for yourself to work out whether it causes any side effects.
May Cause Other Side Effects
Gas and bloating are common side effects of drinking carbonated water (which often means more burping and farting as well). While these effects can be embarrassing, they’re rarely serious.
If you have a sensitive stomach or some type of reflux condition, then the side effects may be too much. In those cases, regular water is a better choice.
Also be aware that drinking carbonated water through a straw can make bloating and gas worse. Try drinking it directly from the glass in small sips instead.
Because of the carbon dioxide, sparkling water ends up being slightly acidic. This is unlikely to cause a serious issue, as our bodies tightly regulate our pH levels and some foods are naturally acidic.
Even so, some theories suggest that we should be decreasing this acidity as much as possible. This is the reason that alkaline water has become popular and is thought to promote health.
For the moment, we’ll simply say that there’s little evidence that acidic foods and drinks will harm you, especially not if you focus on eating well. Besides, sparkling water isn’t very acidic.
It May Harm Your Teeth
There’s also concern that the acidity might damage the enamel on your teeth, particularly if you’re drinking sparkling water regularly.
While it’s clear that soda can harm your teeth, there’s much less evidence for sparkling water. This isn’t surprising either, as sparkling water isn’t as acidic as most types of soda and generally doesn’t contain sugar either. As such, sparkling water is unlikely to cause notable damage to your teeth.
Plus, any enamel-damaging effect of sparkling water will be much less than regular soda. One study even showed that a sugary non-sparkling drink (Gatorade) had less of an impact than a sugar-free sparkling drink (Diet Coke).
If you are concerned about this effect, why not drink the water through a straw? By doing so, most of the water will bypass your teeth entirely.
Could Lead To Calcium Loss In Your Bones
According to some theories, sparkling water could decrease mineral density in your bones, by causing calcium to leach out. That effect has been found for cola, but not for other types of sparking drinks.
The difference isn’t that surprising. After all, cola contains caffeine, sugar, and plenty of additives. Sparkling water is just water with bubbles. It’s not likely to have the same effects as soda.
Does Sparkling Water Make You Gain Weight?
Sparkling water can help you lose weight for two reasons. The first is hydration. Not getting enough water is one of the biggest weight loss mistakes, as drinking water regularly can help with your hunger.
This happens because our bodies aren’t great at telling the difference between hunger and thirst. As a result, we sometimes feel hungry when we’re actually thirsty – and can easily overeat because of this.
The other weight loss effect happens when you drink sparkling water instead of soda or any other calorie-containing drink. Doing so is a simple way to decrease your calorie intake and still stay hydrated.
You may, however, have heard a different story about sparkling water and weight. Some people are concerned that the water will make you gain weight instead.
The concern comes from research that suggests that the carbonation in sparkling water has an unexpected effect on your appetite, increasing the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Such an increase could mean that you eat more after drinking sparkling water compared to regular water.
However, there is minimal research on the topic. One of the initial studies focused on rats rather than humans. Another did confirm that humans experience an increase in ghrelin after drinking sparkling water compared to still water. But, they didn’t show whether this actually leads to weight gain.
In practice, any slight increase in ghrelin is likely to be offset by the way that hydration keeps your appetite in check.
Sparkling water is clearly much better for you than any type of soda. This isn’t surprising, as most products are simply water, carbonation, and possibly some minerals. The main issue is when companies also add extra ingredients, like sugar or flavoring agents.
Just like still water, sparkling water can help you stay hydrated and provides all the benefits that come with getting enough water. This is reason enough to drink it regularly – especially as there’s little evidence for any of the potential negative effects.