Julia Fountain ND
Carbonated water is made by bubbling carbon dioxide through water. The resulting chemical reaction creates carbonic acid which activates nerve receptors on the tongue and gives that refreshing mouth-feel.
Sparkling mineral water comes from natural springs which contain trace minerals. Examples: Perrier (the carbonation is natural) and San Pellegrino (which has carbonation added).
Seltzer water is plain water that has been carbonated by bubbling CO2 through it. Examples: Soda Stream. Flavoured seltzer water may have natural flavours (lime, grapefruit) and citric acid added
Club soda is carbonated water, with additional minerals added including potassium and sodium, to mimic a natural spring flavor.
Tonic water has quinine added (which gives it the bitter flavor), sugar, citric acid other flavouring ingredients. It has 130 calories per can.
So, are they healthy?
Tonic water is more pop than water, and with added sugars, flavourings and 130 calories per can, it doesn’t have a lot of nutritional ‘upside’.
Club soda, seltzer water and sparkling mineral water have no calories unless they are flavoured with syrups. Carbonated water is less acidic than orange juice and pop but more acidic than plain water, averaging 5.5 on the pH scale. Fizzy waters become more acidic when citric acid is added. Does this acidity have a damaging effect? Perhaps. In a Jan 2018 study in the Korean Orthodontic Journal, teeth were submerged in carbonated water for 15 minutes 3x/day for 7 days. Carbonated water was found to decrease the hardness of tooth enamel.
However on the upside, a 2017 study showed carbonated water was shown to increase satiety and curbed appetite in young women. A study. in the Journal of European Gastroenterology claimed carbonated water improved constipation, indigestion, and gallbladder emptying. However this study was sponsored by a European bottled water company so take this one with a grain of salt.
Other than that, there’s not a lot of data out there on the health benefits or effects of carbonated water. Until more information comes to light…my bottom line recommendations for carbonated water are these:
1) Most people will be able to enjoy fizzy water as a healthy way to hydrate, but not to the exclusion of plain, flat water. Consider your teeth.
2) If you have IBS, reflux/acid stomach or bloating, tread lightly with carbonated water. I find clinically it aggravates these conditions for some.
3) When possible, choose glass bottles, or a Soda Stream system. I’m curious about what leaches out of plastic bottles and aluminum cans when they contain slightly acidic water. I haven’t found data to justify this concern, it’s just my humble opinion.
4) Avoid sparkling water with artificial flavours, colours, citric acid, sweeteners. Choose plain or natural flavours, or add a splash of fresh lemon or lime.
5) Continue to eat an alkaline diet comprised of generous portions of leafy greens and plant-based foods, to balance any acidity your sparkling water provides.