Carbonated water (sparkling): good or bad?

Carbonated water is a refreshing drink and a good alternative to sugary soft drinks.

However, the concern has been expressed that it may be harmful to your health.

This article analyzes in detail the health effects of carbonated water.

Good or Bad Carbonated Water

Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure.

This produces a bubbly drink that is also known as sparkling water, club soda, soda water, sparkling water and sparkling water.

With the exception of mineral water, carbonated water generally has added salt to improve flavor. Sometimes small amounts of other minerals are included.

Mineral waters with natural gas, such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, are different.

These waters are captured from a mineral spring and tend to contain minerals and sulfur compounds. These waters are often also carbonated.

Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound called quinine, along with sugar or corn syrup with high fructose content.

Summary Carbonated water combines water with carbon dioxide under pressure. Sodium and other minerals are often added.

Carbonated water is acidic

Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid that has been shown to stimulate the same nerve receptors in the mouth as mustard.

This causes a burning and prickly sensation that can be both irritating and pleasant (1, 2).

The pH of carbonated water is 3 to 4, which means it is slightly acidic.

However, drinking an acidic beverage such as carbonated water does not make your body more acidic.

Your kidneys and lungs remove excess carbon dioxide. This keeps your blood at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35 to 7.45, regardless of what you eat or drink.

Summary Carbonated water is acidic, but your body must maintain a stable, slightly alkaline pH, no matter what you consume.

Does it affect dental health?

One of the biggest concerns about carbonated water is its effect on teeth, since its enamel is directly exposed to acid.

There is very little research on this topic, but one study found that sparkling mineral water damaged the enamel just a little more than still water. In addition, mineral water was 100 times less harmful than a sugary soft drink (3).

In one study, carbonated beverages showed great potential to destroy enamel, but only if they contained sugar.

In fact, a non-carbonated sweet drink (Gatorade) was more harmful than a carbonated soft drink (Diet Coke) (4).

Another study placed tooth enamel samples in various beverages for up to 24 hours. Carbonated and non-carbonated beverages sweetened with sugar resulted in a significantly greater loss of enamel than their dietary counterparts (5).

A review of several studies found that the combination of sugar and carbonation can lead to severe dental caries (6).

However, water with natural gas seems to represent a minor risk to dental health. Only sugary types are harmful (7).

If you are concerned about dental health, try to drink sparkling water with a meal or rinse your mouth with running water after drinking it.

Summary Carbonated beverages sweetened with sugar can erode tooth enamel, but simple carbonated water seems relatively harmless.

Does it affect digestion?

Carbonated water can benefit digestive health in several ways.

It can improve the ability to swallow

Studies suggest that sparkling water may improve the ability to swallow in both young adults and older adults (8, 9, 10).

In one study, 16 healthy people were asked to repeatedly swallow different liquids. Carbonated water showed the strongest capacity to stimulate the nerves responsible for swallowing (9).

Another study showed that the combination of cold temperature and carbonation strengthened these beneficial effects (10).

In a study of 72 people who felt a persistent need to clean their throats, drinking iced carbonated water led to an improvement in 63% of the participants. Those with the most frequent and severe symptoms experienced the greatest relief (11).

May increase feelings of fullness

Carbonated water can also extend the feeling of fullness after meals more than pure water.

Sparkling water can help keep food longer in your stomach, which can lead to a greater sense of fullness (12).

In a controlled study in 19 healthy young women, fullness scores were higher after participants drank 8 ounces (250 ml) of soda water than after still water (13).

However, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.

It can help relieve constipation

People who experience constipation may find that drinking sparkling water helps relieve their symptoms.

In a two-week study of 40 elderly people who had suffered strokes, the average frequency of bowel movements almost doubled in the group that drank carbonated water compared to the group that drank tap water.

In addition, participants reported a 58% decrease in constipation symptoms (14).

There is also evidence that sparkling water can improve other symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pain.

A controlled study examined 21 people with chronic digestive problems. After 15 days, those who drank carbonated water had significant improvements in digestive symptoms, constipation and emptying of the gallbladder (15).

Summary Carbonated water has benefits for digestion. It can improve swallowing, increase the feeling of fullness and reduce constipation.

Does carbonated water affect bone health?

Many people believe that carbonated drinks are bad for bones because of their high acid content. However, the research suggests that carbonation is not to blame.

A large observational study in more than 2,500 people found that cola was the only beverage associated with significantly lower bone mineral density. Carbonated water does not seem to have any effect on bone health (16).

Unlike carbonated water and clear soda, cola drinks contain a large amount of phosphorus.

The researchers proposed that cola drinkers may have been consuming too much phosphorus and insufficient calcium, which represents a potential risk factor for bone loss.

In another study, it was found that adolescents who consumed carbonated beverages had lower bone mineral density. This was attributed to the drinks that replaced the milk in their diet, which resulted in inadequate calcium intake (17).

In a controlled study in 18 postmenopausal women, drinking 34 ounces (1 liter) of water with sodium-rich gas daily for eight weeks led to better calcium retention than drinking plain mineral water (18).

In addition, no negative effects on bone health were observed in the sparkling water group.

Animal research suggests that carbonated water can even improve bone health.

Supplementation of the hens' diets with carbonated water for six weeks led to an increase in the resistance of the leg bones compared to tap water (19).

Summary Drinking soft drinks with cola can damage the health of the bones, but the water with natural gas seems to have a neutral or positive effect.

Does heart health affect?

The research suggests that carbonated water can improve heart health, although the evidence is very limited.

A study in 18 postmenopausal women showed that the consumption of carbonated water rich in sodium decreased the "bad" LDL cholesterol, inflammatory markers and blood sugar.

In addition, they also saw an increase in "good" HDL cholesterol (20).

In addition, the estimated risk of developing heart disease within 10 years was 35% lower for those who drink carbonated water compared to those in the control water.

However, since this was only a small study, much more research is needed before we can reach a conclusion.

Summary Carbonated water can have beneficial effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease. However, more studies are needed.

Is carbonated water bad for you?

There is currently no evidence that carbonated or carbonated water is bad for you.

It is not really harmful to dental health and seems to have no effect on bone health.

Interestingly, a carbonated beverage can even improve digestion by improving the ability to swallow and reduce constipation.

It is also a calorie-free drink that causes a pleasant bubbling sensation. Many people prefer it over still water.

There is no reason to give up this drink if you enjoy it. In fact, it can improve your overall health.

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