Carbonated water is a refreshing drink and a good alternative to sugary carbonated drinks.
However, some people worry that it is bad for your health.
This article takes a detailed look at the health effects of carbonated water .
What is carbonated water?
Carbonated water is water which has been infused with carbon dioxide under pressure.
This produces a fizzy drink also known as sparkling water, club soda, carbonated water, seltzer water, and soda water.
Apart from seltzer water, carbonated waters usually have salt added to improve their taste. Sometimes small amounts of other minerals are included.
Sparkling natural mineral waters, such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, are different.
These waters are captured from a mineral spring and usually contain minerals and sulfur compounds. They are often also carbonated.
Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound called quinine, along with sugar or high fructose corn syrup .
Carbonated water is acidic
Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid that stimulates the same nerve receptors in the mouth as mustard.
This triggers a burning, prickly sensation that can be both irritating and pleasurable .
The pH of carbonated water is 3 to 4, which means it is slightly acidic.
However, drinking an acidic drink like sparkling water does not make your body more acidic.
Your kidneys and lungs eliminate excess carbon dioxide. It keeps your blood at a pH slightly alkaline 7.35 to 7.45 no matter what you eat or drink.
Does it affect dental health?
One of the biggest concerns with sparkling water is its effect on teeth, as your enamel is directly exposed to the acid.
There is very little research on this topic, but one study found that carbonated mineral water damaged enamel only slightly more than plain water. In addition, mineral water was 100 times less damaging than a sweet carbonated drink .
In one study, soft drinks showed a strong potential to destroy enamel – but only if they contained sugar.
In fact, an uncarbonated sugary drink was more harmful than a sugarless carbonated drink .
Another study placed samples of tooth enamel in various beverages for up to 24 hours. Both carbonated and non-carbonated sugary drinks caused significantly greater enamel loss than their diet counterparts .
A review of several studies found that the combination of sugar and carbonation can lead to severe tooth decay .
However, plain sparkling water appears to pose few dental health risks. Only the sweet types are harmful .
If you are concerned about dental health, try drinking sparkling water with a meal or rinsing your mouth with plain water after drinking it.
Does it affect digestion?
Carbonated water can help your digestion in several ways:
May improve swallowing ability
Studies suggest that sparkling water may improve swallowing ability in young and older adults .
In one study, 16 healthy people were asked to repeatedly swallow different liquids. Carbonated water showed the strongest ability to stimulate the nerves responsible for swallowing .
Another study showed that the combination of cold and carbonation enhanced these beneficial effects .
In a study of 72 people who felt a persistent need to clear their throat, drinking ice cold soda water led to improvements in 63% of participants. People with the most frequent and severe symptoms experienced the most relief .
May increase feelings of fullness
Carbonated water can also prolong feelings of fullness after meals to a greater extent than plain water.
Sparkling water can help food stay in the stomach longer, which can trigger a greater feeling of fullness .
In a controlled study of 19 healthy young women, satiety scores were higher after participants drank 8 ounces (250 ml) of sparkling water, compared to after drinking plain water .
However, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.
May help relieve constipation
People who suffer from constipation may find that drinking sparkling water helps relieve their symptoms.
In a 2-week study of 40 elderly people with stroke, the average bowel movement frequency nearly doubled in the group that drank carbonated water, compared to the group that drank tap water.
Additionally, participants reported a 58% decrease in constipation symptoms .
There is also some evidence that sparkling water may improve other symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pains .
A controlled study looked at 21 people with chronic digestive issues. After 15 days, those who drank the carbonated water experienced significant improvement in digestive symptoms, constipation, and gallbladder emptying .
Does sparkling water affect bone health?
Many people believe that soft drinks are bad for the bones because of their high acid content. However, research suggests that carbonation is not to blame.
A large observational study in over 2,500 people found that cola was the only drink associated with significantly lower bone mineral density. Carbonated water seems to have no effect on bone health .
Unlike carbonated water and clear soda, cola drinks contain a lot of phosphorus.
Researchers have proposed that cola drinkers may have consumed too much phosphorus and calcium insufficient , providing a potential risk factor for bone loss.
In another study, teenage girls who consumed soft drinks had lower bone mineral density. This was attributed to beverages that replaced milk in their diet, leading to insufficient calcium intake .
In a controlled study of 18 postmenopausal women, drinking 34 ounces (1 liter) of sodium-rich carbonated water daily for 8 weeks led to better calcium retention than drinking plain mineral water .
Additionally, no negative effects on bone health were seen in the sparkling water group.
Animal research suggests that carbonated water may even improve bone health.
Supplementing the hens' diet with carbonated water for 6 weeks resulted in increased leg bone strength compared to tap water .
Does it affect heart health?
Research suggests that carbonated water may improve heart health, although the evidence is very limited.
A study in 18 postmenopausal women showed that drinking sodium-rich sparkling water lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, them markers inflammatory and blood sugar.
Additionally, they also experienced an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol .
Additionally, the estimated risk of developing heart disease within 10 years was 35% lower in people who drank the carbonated water than in those who drank the control water.
However, since this was only a small study, much more research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.
No evidence suggests that carbonated or sparkling water is bad for you.
It's not that bad for dental health and it doesn't seem to have any effect on bone health.
Interestingly, a soft drink can even improve digestion by improving swallowing ability and reducing constipation.
It is also a calorie-free drink that induces a pleasant fizzy feeling. Many people prefer it to plain water.
There's no reason to give up this drink if you enjoy it. In fact, it may even improve your overall health.