Is Sparkling Water Really Bad for You?

Effervescent Sparkling Water

Sparkling Water

Water is a basic human need, but drinking enough of it is something that many people struggle with simply because they find plain water boring. This is why sparkling water, a drink that’s been around for centuries,1 is finally becoming popular with consumers.

You’ve probably seen sparkling water lining the grocery shelves and heard how it’s a healthier alternative to sugary drinks like artificial fruit juices and carbonated soft drinks, but what exactly is this fizzy drink and how can it affect your health? Read on to find out.

What Is Sparkling Water?

Also called carbonated water, sparkling water is basically water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. The process results in the production of carbonic acid, a very weak acid that causes the effervescent fizzy sensation on your tongue every time you take a sip of sparkling water.2

Despite its recent rise to popularity, sparkling water is far from being a modern-day beverage, as it has been around since the 1700s. The origin of sparkling water can be traced back to the carbonated mineral waters from natural springs, which people also referred to as “seltzers” back in the day, after the carbonated natural springs in Niederselters, Germany.3,4

Bathing in carbonated mineral water is believed to have healthy effects, which is why people eventually tried drinking it in hopes of getting the same results. With the goal of replicating naturally carbonated mineral waters, an English scientist named Joseph Priestley created the first artificially carbonated water back in 1767.5

Priestley believed that sparkling water could help address numerous ailments, including scurvy, a deadly disease cause by vitamin C deficiency that claimed millions of lives from the 1500s to the 1800s. The Royal Society even awarded him their highest honor for creating fizzy water, and gave the explorer James Cook the necessary equipment to carbonate water in order to avoid scurvy as he and his crew set sail for Australia.6

But while sparkling water did not cure scurvy, Priestley’s work still proved to be significant as it changed the world’s drinking habits. Nowadays, sparkling water is available in the following types:7

  • Seltzer water Not to be confused with naturally carbonated mineral waters that people referred to as “seltzers” in the past, the modern-day seltzer water is a clean-tasting drink that’s made from plain water infused with carbon dioxide.
  • Club soda — This “soda” is not the same as the sugar-loaded carbonated soft drinks that can cause a variety of health consequences. Club soda is a type of sparkling water that’s infused with other mineral ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, potassium sulfate and disodium phosphate, all of which lend it a subtly different flavor from plain seltzer water.
  • Sparkling mineral water This naturally carbonated water comes from natural springs and wells, and is sometimes bottled at the source. It naturally contains salt and sulfur compounds, giving it a distinct taste and a heavier mouthfeel. Its flavor may vary depending on where it came from.

Sparkling Water Versus Water: What’s the Difference?

Sparkling water has a fizziness that’s hard to miss, which makes it easy to differentiate from regular drinking water. To learn more about the differences and similarities between sparkling water and regular water, check out the table below:8,9,10

  Regular Water Sparkling Water
Hydration Pure, clean water provides you with the proper hydration that you need for optimal health. Plain sparkling water is just as hydrating as regular water.
Mineral content Pure water contains trace amounts of valuable minerals like calcium and magnesium.11 Depending on the type, sparkling water may contain mineral ingredients like salt and sulfur compounds, which could be either naturally occurring or intentionally infused.
Taste

Pure water is tasteless, and is often described as clean-tasting.

Depending on the type, sparkling water may taste either clean or salty due to its sodium content.
Fizziness

Regular water does not cause a fizzy sensation, hence why it’s sometimes called still or flat water.

The carbonic acid in sparkling water makes it bubbly.

However, carbonation can make you feel full quickly, preventing you from drinking enough water.12

If you’re craving sugary carbonated drinks, I recommend you drink sparkling water to satisfy your taste buds. However, regular water is still better than carbonated water, as it allows you to drink as much water as you need without the risk of bloating.

Some sparkling water brands may also contain artificial sweeteners, which are linked to a variety of health problems such as obesity, metabolic dysfunction, liver disease and insulin sensitivity, among others.13 With that in mind, be sure to always read the label when buying carbonated water.

Is Sparkling Water Bad for You?

There are some concerns that sparkling water may cause tooth decay and calcium loss in bones,14,15 but plain sparkling water does not really cause these touted side effects, as noted by these studies:

  • A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that the intake of cola, but not of other carbonated beverages such as sparkling water, is associated with low bone mineral density in women. Researchers suggest that this is due to imbalanced calcium-to-phosphorus ratios caused by daily cola consumption.16
  • A 2009 case report published in the Journal of Zhejiang University Science B states that the addition of acids and sugars in some carbonated beverages are to blame for dental erosion.17 Even if sparkling water is slightly more acidic than regular water, it still doesn’t affect your teeth’s enamel.18

The same cannot be said for flavored sparkling water, though, which should be considered potentially erosive, as it demonstrated similar or higher erosive potential than pure orange juice, according to 2007 study published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.19

In addition to being a healthier choice of beverage than sugary drinks, plain sparkling water may also have other health benefits, including:

  • Relieves chronic throat clearing — In a study published in The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 72 patients with chronic throat clearing issue were advised to add ice-cold carbonated water to their regime in order to relieve their symptom. Results show that 63 percent of the patients experienced relief, with the most severely and frequently affected patients having the highest improvement in their symptom.20
  • Helps alleviate constipation — According to a study published in the Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, drinking carbonated water may help increase the frequency of defecation in constipated patients.21

How to Make Sparkling Water

Making your own sparkling water is ideal if you want to control the amount of carbonation in your drink or make sure that you’re consuming pure sparkling water without any added artificial sweeteners. Currently, there are several carbonating machines and devices that let you make your own sparkling water at home.

The most commonly used carbonating devices are starter kits that include a sparkling water maker, carbonator and reusable carbonating bottle. Follow these steps from WikiHow to make your own sparkling water using this type of device:

  1. Fill the carbonating bottle with water, preferably cold since carbon dissolves better in cold water.
  2. Screw the bottle onto the machine, and press the carbonate button to infuse your water with carbon dioxide. You can carbonate the water a few more times until you get your preferred amount of carbonation.

Now that you know how DIY sparkling water is made, you can make a bottle of it anytime you’re craving a carbonated drink. You can also make your glass of sparkling water more exciting by flavoring it with natural ingredients.

Sparkling Water Recipes

You can mix sparkling water with a variety of organic fruits or even spices and herbs to create a healthy thirst quencher. Keep in mind, though, that even though fruits are a wholesome addition to your sparkling water, they still contain fructose so you have to be careful not to consume too much of them to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Here are some recipes that you can try:

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

Ingredients:

Prep time: 5 minutes | Total time: 5 minutes | Serves: 8 glasses
8 large lemons 1/2 pint strawberries 2 liters sparkling water
Stevia, to taste Ice, as needed  

Procedure:

  1. Cut six lemons in half and juice each half into a large pitcher, using a strainer to catch the seeds. Slice the remaining two lemons to form wheels for garnishing then set them aside.
  2. Clean the strawberries and slice them into thin pieces.
  3. Add the sparking water into the lemon juice in the pitcher, and then flavor the mixture with stevia. Stir well then add in the lemon and strawberry slices.
  4. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes for the flavor of fruits to mix. Add ice and serve.

(Recipe adapted from Simple Healthy Kitchen22)

Spicy Apple Chai Recipe

Ingredients:

Serves: 2 glasses
2 cups of brewed chai tea, chilled 1/2 apple, finely chopped Honey, to taste (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Pour a cup of chilled chai tea and add some apples into each glass.
  2. Add the ice and sparkling water. Sweeten with honey, if desired.

(Recipe adapted from The Holistic Ingredient23)

Golden Turmeric Sparkles Recipe

Ingredients:

Serves: 1 glass
1-inch piece turmeric, peeled 1-inch piece ginger, peeled 1/2 lemon
Honey, to taste Cayenne pepper  

Procedure:

  1. Extract the juice of turmeric, ginger and lemon using a juicer. Add in honey to the mixture, if desired.
  2. Pour a few tablespoons of the mixture into a glass, add in the ice cube and top with sparkling water.
  3. Sprinkle cayenne on top for an extra kick.

(Recipe adapted from The Holistic Ingredient24)

All-Natural Sugar-Free Fruit Soda Recipe

Ingredients:

Serves: 4
1 pound fresh ripe strawberries

Sparkling water

Lemon juice (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Wash and trim the strawberries. Place them in a food processor and pulse until they are rough-chopped, then scrape down the sides of the machine. Puree until completely smooth. Let the machine run for a minute or longer to ensure a smooth puree.
  2. Push the mixture through a mesh strainer, using the back of a large spoon to make sure as much of it gets through as possible. Most of it should go through, leaving just the small seeds behind. You should have approximately a cup and a half of puree.
  3. Mix 2 tablespoons of the puree for every 8 ounces of carbonated water. Stir well and then serve immediately. You can adjust the amount of puree for a lighter or stronger flavor. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.

(Recipe adapted from Super Healthy Kids25)

Homemade Sparkling Grape Soda

Ingredients:

Prep time: 1 minute | Total time: 1 minute | Serves: 1 glass
1/2 cup unsweetened grape juice 1 cup sparkling water 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Ice, as needed Honey, to taste (optional)  

Procedure:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a glass and stir well.
  2. Flavor with honey, if desired, then add in the ice and serve immediately.

(Recipe adapted from Build Your Bite26)

Mint and Celery Soda Recipe

Ingredients:

Serves: 2 glasses
2 glasses sparkling water 4 sprigs of mint 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pound celery stalks Honey, to taste (optional) Ice, as needed

Procedure:

  1. Mix the lemon juice and mint in a pitcher.
  2. Using a juicer, extract the juice of the celery stalks and pour the liquid into the same pitcher that you used for the lemon juice mix. The lemon will prevent the celery juice from oxidizing.
  3. Strain the mixture and squeeze the mint leaves to get its flavor, and then pour the liquid into ice-filled glasses. Flavor it with honey, if desired.
  4. Top off with sparkling water and garnish with some fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately.

(Recipe adapted from The Holistic Ingredient27)

Lemon Cucumber Seltzer

Ingredients:

Serves: 8
8 glasses sparkling water 24 slices cucumber, with or without peel 16 slices lemon
Ice, as needed

 

   

Procedure:

  1. Pour the sparkling water into a clear pitcher. Add in the slices of cucumber and lemon as well as the ice cubes.
  2. Stir occasionally. Let the ingredients chill together for about 10 minutes before serving. When you pour it into glasses, make sure each serving gets some ice cubes and several slices of cucumber and lemon.

(Recipe adapted from WebMD28)

Sparkling Water Side Effects

Before you drink several glasses of sparkling water, you should be aware of its side effects. If you consume a lot of sparkling water in a single sitting, the bubbles in it may cause bloating as they dissolve inside your stomach, making your belly feel full, tight and uncomfortable.

The feeling of fullness may also make you drink less, which could rob your body of the necessary amount of hydration that you need — this is why athletes who sweat a lot and require increased amounts of water are recommended to drink flat water instead of sparkling.29

Take a Sip of Sparkling Water Today

Sparkling water is a guilt-free alternative to sugar-loaded soft drinks, and it’s a good choice of drink if you’re finally adopting a healthy diet. Be careful not to drink too much, however, as it may cause bloating.

Some commercially available sparkling waters may also contain sweeteners and artificial flavorings, which cancel out its health benefits, so make sure you read the labels when buying. If you really want to take your sparkling water up a notch, I recommend flavoring it with natural ingredients like lemon juice and other organic fruits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Sparkling Water

Q: Is sparkling water healthy?

A: Not all sparkling waters are healthy. Pure sparkling water is good for you, as it’s basically plain water infused with carbon dioxide. Flavored sparkling water, on the other hand, may contain sugar and other artificial ingredients that have negative effects on your health, so make sure that you steer clear of those.30

Q: Does sparkling water hydrate you?

A: Yes, sparkling water is just as hydrating as regular drinking water.31

Q: Is sparkling water bad for your teeth?

A: Plain sparkling water is not bad for your teeth. Study shows that the addition of acids and sugars in a drink is what makes it dentally erosive, so you should avoid flavored sparkling water.32,33

Q: Is sparkling water the same as soda?

A: No. In the U.S., most people refer to unhealthy carbonated soft drinks as “soda.”34 This is not the same as sparkling water, although they are both fizzy drinks. Unlike soda, plain sparkling water does not contain artificial flavorings and high amounts of sugar.35

Q: Is sparkling water carbonated?

A: Yes, sparkling water is either naturally carbonated or infused with carbon dioxide during production.36

Q: Does sparkling water make you feel bloated?

A: Yes, the bubbles in sparkling water can make you feel bloated once they dissolve inside your stomach.37

Q: Is soda water the same as plain sparkling water?

A: No, soda water is different from plain sparkling water, as it contains a small amount of sodium bicarbonate.38

Q: Does sparkling water make you fat?

A: Plain sparkling water will not cause you to gain weight. However, flavored sparkling water may, as it has added sugar and artificial flavorings.

Q: Is sparkling water an alcoholic beverage?

A: No. Pure sparkling water does not contain alcohol.

Q: Can sparkling water help you lose weight?

A: Plain sparkling water may potentially aid weight loss by promoting the feeling of fullness, which could lower your appetite and make you eat less.39

Q: Is sparkling water good for your stomach?

A: Study shows that sparkling water may help relieve the symptoms of certain digestive problems, including constipation and dyspepsia.40,41 But again, it’s important to remember that consuming too much of it may cause bloating.

 



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