Is sparkling water bad for you? 8 side effects of drinking it

Sparkling water seems as benign as the bubbles rising in the glass, but is it?

To put it into perspective, consider the apple: an apple also looks healthy. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” the saying goes. But bake it into a buttery crunch or a pie adorned with scoops of ice cream, caramel bits, and a drizzle of caramel, and you’ve suddenly transformed that sinless apple into one hell of a sweet saturated fat dessert.

Similarly, not all soda water concoctions are healthy. After all, soda is carbonated water, but adulterated with high fructose corn syrup, brominated vegetable oil, often caffeine and either caramel coloring or, in the case of soda orange, yellow 6 and red 40.

OK, that’s an extreme example. Although much less bastardized than cola, sparkling waters flavored with fruit essences may not be the ideal drink for a health-conscious person like you either. And that begs the question…

What is soda water anyway?

sparkling water

In short, carbonated water is simply sparkling water. Technically, it’s H2O infused with CO2, the same carbon dioxide you exhale.

The book Trends in non-alcoholic beverages, 2020 simply explains it as the dissolution of cold CO2 gas in water under high pressure. This bubbling dynamic turns plain water into sparkling water, also known as carbonated water, carbonated water, seltzer water, club soda, etc. When the gas dissolves in water naturally underground in wells and springs, it is called sparkling water and contains minerals like sodium. and calcium. (Think: Perrier mineral water or San Pellegrino.)

Otherwise, the CO2 is pumped through an industrial process at a beverage factory or by the soda maker on your bar or kitchen counter. Add sugar, coloring and other stuff and you have Coca-Cola and its cousins. Tonic water is another type of carbonated water, but with added bitter quinine and high fructose corn syrup, which gives your double shot gin and tonic about 150 calories.

Consumers’ desire to avoid these sugary, high-calorie sodas has made sodas and sparkling waters all the rage, say the dietitians we spoke with. The market for these seemingly healthier bottled beverages is expected to reach $93.6 billion by 2033, according to Future Market Insights. Given the obesity crisis in the United States and the number of diabetics surpassing 37 million (97 million adults have prediabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association), most experts welcome this trend.

8 side effects of drinking carbonated water

Club soda sparkling water

1. You will improve hydration

“Pure, plain sparkling water is still water and can help you stay hydrated, especially if you have trouble drinking enough plain water throughout the day,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDNauthor of First Time Mom Pregnancy Cookbook And Fueling Male Fertility.

“There’s no scientific evidence to suggest carbonated water is bad for your health,” says dietician Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, certified sports dietitian and consultant for Mom Loves Best. “I support people who drink carbonated water to increase baseline hydration. Most women should consume 11.5 cups of hydrating beverages per day, while men should aim for 15.5 cups, according to the Academies National Institutes of Science, Engineering and Medicine. It can be daunting, but sparkling water, among other beverages, can make that goal more achievable.”

2. You may enjoy drinking water more

The fizziness of sparkling water makes it more enjoyable than drinking regular water. Added flavors do the same. “

They won’t bore you,” says Katherine Gomez, Dt.P., a dietitian with clinical and research experience who is also a medical reviewer for PsycheMag. “Sparkling waters come in a variety of very satisfying flavors, and we often crave more and more.”

Of course, you can always squeeze a lemon into plain sparkling water or add fresh or frozen fruit slices for extra flavor.

RELATED: I Drank Lemon Water Every Morning For 30 Days And Noticed These 5 Life-Changing Effects

3. It can bloat your belly

When you drink carbonated water, you swallow more air than you normally would when eating or drinking anything else due to the CO2 trapped in the water.

“These bubbles can cause bloating, which can be uncomfortable,” says Manaker. “This can be particularly troublesome for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”

Bubbly stimulation in the gut can cause constipation or trigger loose stools. On the other hand, the bubbly expansion of your stomach can lead to calorie-free satiety. One study compared the effect of sparkling water to the influence of plain water on feelings of hunger and fullness in a small group of young women. The researchers found that greater satiety and decreased feelings of hunger only occurred when the women consumed carbonated water.

4. You might gain weight

Puffy woman putting on jeans

A few studies suggest that carbonated water, with or without artificial sweeteners, may cause weight gain and higher body mass index, even though it contains no calories. How?

For one thing, “artificial sweeteners can have negative effects on digestive health and blood sugar levels, as well as serious health side effects,” notes a registered dietitian nutritionist. Mary Sabat, MS, RDNowner of Body Design by Mary.

For example, research published in 2014 in Nature demonstrated that non-nutritive sweeteners alter the gut microbiome of mice and humans and may negatively impact glucose metabolism and response. And a meta-analysis of observational studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal have linked non-nutritive sweeteners to increased weight and waist circumference, and a higher incidence of obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular events.

But even those innocent bubbles in pure, unaltered sparkling water can play a role in weight gain. Small experiments on rats and humans published in 2017 in Obesity Research and Clinical Practice suggest that the dizziness caused by carbon dioxide in drinks causes the release of the so-called hunger hormone ghrelin, which can induce overeating.

RELATED: The Worst Drinking Habit If You Want To Lose Weight Fast

5. You can lose weight

Zero-calorie diet soda is basically carbonated water with added coloring and artificial sweetener. It has been used by millions of dieters in place of sugary drinks for decades and has been shown in some studies to be effective in reducing body weight. Although there is little research on pure sparkling water, zero-calorie sparkling water with no added artificial colors or sweeteners may work the same as artificially sweetened zero-calorie and low-calorie beverages.

“As a replacement for sugary drinks, carbonated water can help lower your calorie intake and support your weight loss efforts,” says one dietitian. Barbara Kovalenko, Dt.P.and nutrition consultant for weight loss app Lasta.

6. It can erode your teeth

Not to the extent that drinking lots of soda will, but, yes, unsweetened carbonated water can contribute to cavities.

“Carbonated water can have a lower pH than regular plain water, and that lower pH can erode tooth enamel over time,” Manaker says.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). Related research in JADA Foundational Science found that dentin, the area under enamel that protects nerves, is particularly susceptible to erosion from sugar-free carbonated waters.

7. It can make you more alert

When the summer sun is beating down and you’re sweating, a glass of still or sparkling water will rehydrate you. But if you want to stay alert and avoid heat-related drowsiness, go for the fizzy stuff. In a 2022 experiment reported in the journal Physiological behavior, the researchers gave healthy young adults cold carbonated or cold non-carbonated water in an extremely hot environment. Their analysis found that carbonated water caused increased cerebral blood flow and blood pressure and a greater sense of motivation and euphoria compared to plain water.

8. Some can cause health problems

Some seltzers and sparkling waters contain potentially unhealthy levels of synthetic PFAS chemicals that have been linked to a variety of health issues, according to a 2020 Consumer Reports study.

“Many popular beverage brands contain these chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS),” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian for Balance Once Supplements. “These man-made chemicals often used in food packaging are also known as ‘eternal chemicals’ because they are difficult to break down in the body or in the environment.”

Epidemiological studies suggest potential associations between PFAS exposure and liver disease, impaired immune and thyroid function, insulin dysregulation, kidney disease, and certain cancers. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting PFAS in bottled water to 70 parts per trillion (ppt), but each state can set its own standards with levels as low as 12 ppt. Some experts claim that less than 1 ppt is acceptable.

So, is sparkling water actually bad for you? The verdict

Class of Lime Seltzer

There is very little evidence to suggest that drinking carbonated water poses a risk to your health.

“Generally, it’s not bad for you, and it may actually provide potential health benefits,” Sabat says. “Carbonated water can help you stay hydrated because it contains the same amount of electrolytes as regular water.”

Although it can cause bloating, some people find it relieves indigestion and reduces gas discomfort. Drinking sparkling water can prevent you from overeating (and help you lose weight) thanks to the satiating bubbles and volume of water as long as your drink doesn’t have 12 teaspoons of sugar like most carbonated sodas. And those citrus-flavored seltzers — even the sparkling water you squeeze lemons, limes, and oranges into to add flavor — are unlikely to rot your teeth unless you drink plenty of it every day. . Even then, you can reduce the risk simply by rinsing your mouth with water after having a drink to neutralize the acids.

The bottom line: “Soft drinks can be great for your health, but the type you choose should be carefully considered,” says Best.

And when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with the sports drink of your childhood: cold, refreshing water from the garden hose.

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