We are told to drink plenty of water as a healthy rule of thumb, but many people just get tired of plain water. They feel the need for a little flavor or carbonation. Instead of turning towards sodas, juices, or sports drinks, carbonated water seems like the plausible answer to this quest to quench thirst towards taste bud satisfaction without adding to your waistline. Yes, carbonated water is a good alternative to sugary drinks, but whether or not this drink is good for your health has become controversial.
There is a whole market for carbonated water that comes in cans and bottles that make us think and feel we are drinking bad beverages (like pretending to drink soda). Carbonated water is in fact, water, but it has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under a pressure process. There are a few names for carbonated water to include club soda, soda water, fizzy water, sparkling water, and seltzer water. Some brands add minerals and sodium for taste. What people enjoy about these dinks is the prickling, almost burning sensation they get taking sips. This feeling is due to the same effect we get when we have mustard. This is because when carbon dioxide reacts with water, carbonated acid is produced. This acid stimulates certain nerves in the mouth. Carbonated water is only slightly acidic, with a pH of 3-4, so your body does not become more acidic from drinking it.
The controversy revolving around carbonated water and its concerns are related to heart, dental, digestive, and bone health. Some research exists claiming carbonated water is in fact good for your heart because it can increase HDL (good) cholesterol. A very small study showed the risk of getting heart disease within the next 10 years was lowered by 35% among persons who drank carbonated water. There needs to be more significant research into this. Going back to carbonated water being acidic, makes people weary about your teeth being directly exposed to acid when you drink it. There is little research on this topic which has only shown slightly more damage to teeth’s enamel when drinking carbonated water versus still water. At the same time, sprots drinks have been shown to be more harmful to enamel even more so than a carbonated, sugar free, diet soda. Sugar appears to have a worse effect on dental health than carbonation. With that in mind, carbonated drinks with sugar would be harmful to teeth.
There is interesting research about digestion and carbonation. Studies have suggested that drinking carbonated water can improve swallowing ability in older and young adults. Carbonated drinks may also make you feel fuller. Carbonated water may stay in the stomach longer than plain water, so you feel more satiated. Some people have found that drinking carbonated water can alleviate constipation. A study of 21 people found improvements in constipation and gallbladder emptying. After feeling chronic digestive issues, in just 15 days these improvements occurred. Finally, it has been said that carbonated water is bad for your bones because of the acidity. Bone mineral density actually doesn’t decease because of this drink. On the other hand, soda drinks have phosphorus with can affect bone health.
All in all, there isn’t consistent or enough evidence to show negative health effects of drinking carbonated water. Hydration is key for our bodies to be lubricated and energized to work efficiently for us. Adding in other drinks besides water can be damaging based upon what they contain, but carbonated water doesn’t appear to be on the list of caution weary drinks to avoid.