Often hailed as the healthier alternative to soda and more refreshing than plain water, the demand for carbonated water or sparkling water is higher than ever. Over the last few years, many people have given a twist to their everyday hydration habits.
But is it as healthy as is claimed so? In this article, we weigh in on the health benefits of sparkling water and also discuss the possible side effects.
What is sparkling water?
Sparkling or carbonated water is simply water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. This process creates a “fizzy” drink that can come in several different forms, including seltzer, club soda, sparkling mineral water and tonic water.
The carbonation makes it similar to soft drinks, but with far fewer calories.
What separates these beverages depends on a few variables, for example, their carbonation techniques, water source and in particular, added ingredients.
A few brands of sparkling water might contain additionally added substances to improve its taste, including sodium, artificial sweeteners and flavours— all of which could add to an adverse effect on your health in the long run.
Potential Benefits of Drinking Sparkling Water
While sparkling water is carbonated, it still has the same hydrating effects as still water. If you struggle to drink regular water, sparkling water may be a good alternative. It provides more hydration and far fewer calories than soda.
1. Better than Soda
Sparkling water can be better than other sweetened carbonated beverages such as colas and sodas.
Firstly, sparkling water does not contain any sugar or calories. If you enjoy fizzy drinks, sparkling water is your go-to option to do so without consuming the added calories.
Secondly, sparkling water is better than sugary sodas because of how it reacts with the tooth enamel. A common misconception is that carbonated water erodes tooth enamel, but this is not the case. It’s the sugar in drinks that causes your tooth enamel to break down. Studies have found that sugary soft drinks are 100 times more damaging to the tooth enamel than sparkling water.
Furthermore, if you are trying to get rid of your soda addiction, sparkling water could be the ticket to tricking your brain out of bad habits.
2. Improves Digestion
There are several different reasons why carbonated water may improve your digestion. Sparkling water aids in digestion by improving the ability to swallow. When a group of healthy adults was asked to swallow different liquids, carbonated water showed the strongest ability to stimulate the nerves responsible for swallowing.
Carbonated water has also been found to have a positive impact on bowel movements in those who are constipated.
3. Weight Management
One of the most significant benefits of sparkling water has been linked with weight management. Several studies have found that sparkling water can make you feel more full than you would when drinking plain water.
Carbonated water may also extend the feeling of fullness after meals. It forces food to remain in the stomach for longer, thereby keeping you fuller. As a result, the less you’ll feel the need to eat.
Furthermore, if you’re feeling hungry, it may be just because you’re dehydrated. Drinking enough water can help you keep satisfied for longer times and consume fewer calories throughout the day.
4. Helps in Hydration
Sparkling water is just as hydrating as the still water. It is especially helpful for people who cannot drink still water. If you find the fizz from the carbon dioxide appealing, this may boost your daily water intake.
The only difference is the way sparkling water is absorbed into the body. Because of added carbon dioxide, sparkling water takes a little longer to get absorbed by the body than still water. Fortunately, the gas separates out from the actual water when it gets into the belly and delivers the same hydrating effect.
Potential Side Effects of Drinking Carbonated Water
Too much of anything can be bad for your health, and the same is true for sparkling waters, too. Drinking one or two cans a day should be okay but anything more than that could be a cause for concern.
Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid with pH of 3-4 which is slightly acidic. Still water is neutral with a pH of 7.
You might experience temporary but unwanted side effects from consuming sparkling water such as burping, bloating, gas, and stomach pain. People with a history of acid reflux should stay away from sparkling water and stick to still water.
Carbonated water may also affect tooth enamel as it is exposed directly to carbonic acid. Multiple studies show carbonated beverages can destroy the tooth enamel especially if they have sugar in them.
Alternatives to Sparkling Water
Let’s face it – still water is boring. And, when something is boring, it is hard to consume it. If you are concerned about the side effects of sparkling water on your health, adding a natural flavouring to your still water can be a healthy alternative.
Fruit-infused water has the same hydrating & refreshing characteristics as still water plus the health benefits of added fruits. Fruit or vegetable-infused water has some great nutrients such as Vitamin C, B12, B6, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, electrolytes and much more.
When making infused water, always start with fresh filtered water from a water filter to prevent consuming contaminants such as chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals. Next, add your favourite fruits into a jar and let them infuse for 3 hours or more to enjoy the full flavour.
All in all, there isn’t major evidence that plain sparkling water has much negative impact on health. People with existing gastrointestinal problems may experience some side effects. You should be mindful of any added ingredients in sparkling water especially sugar and artificial sweeteners.