Health Benefits of Sparkling Water

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Examining the Remarkable Health Benefits of Sparkling Water

Seltzer water, also known as sparkling water, is gaining in popularity throughout the country. Some may question if sparkling water has any health benefits. You may be surprised.

Carbonated water, also known as seltzer water or sparkling water, is derived by infusing water with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. The carbon dioxide and water react chemically, and as a result they produce carbonic acid.

The pH value for carbonated water is 3-4, translating to it being slightly acidic. However, according to a Healthline article, drinking acidic beverages like seltzer water does not make the body more acidic.

It should be noted that there is a clear difference between sparkling water, club soda, mineral water, and tonic water. Club soda contains added minerals including sodium. Mineral water contains natural minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Tonic water contains quinine plus sweeteners. Sparkling water is carbonated and may include added flavor, but no sodium or sweeteners.

Dental Health

Because sparkling water has a slightly higher acidity level than noncarbonated water, some have voiced concern that it might be harmful to teeth by weakening the tooth enamel. According to a Mouth Health report, seltzer water is generally fine for your teeth. When carbonated water and noncarbonated water were tested, the effects on tooth enamel were approximately the same.

Furthermore, sparkling water is far better for your teeth than sugar carbonated drinks. The study Investigation of Mineral Waters and Soft Drinks in Relation to Dental Erosion shows that seltzer water is 100 times less damaging to teeth than sugary soft drinks. In fact, according to an article In the Journal of Zhejiang University, carbonated drinks that are sweetened with sugar may lead to severe tooth decay.

When it comes to flavored sparkling waters, be mindful of any additives. Citrus flavored seltzers often have higher acidity levels which can increase damage to tooth enamel. Sparkling water with sugar added is not considered a true sparkling water; it is considered a sugar-sweetened beverage and is more likely to cause cavities.

Digestive Health

Digestive function is another area in which seltzer water can have beneficial effects.

According to the study Effect of Carbonated Beverages on Pharyngeal Swallowing in Young Individuals and Elderly Inpatients available at PubMed.gov, sparkling water may improve swallowing ability in adults, both young and old. Carbonated water showed the ability to stimulate the nerves that are responsible for causing swallowing. As a result, sparkling water increases the amount one swallows. In a similar swallowing reaction time study, it was proven that the combination of cold temperature and carbonation further stimulates swallowing.

Also influencing digestive health, according to an article on the effects of carbonated water on gastric emptying, carbonated water actually makes one feel more full after meals, compared to noncarbonated water. In fact, sparkling water helps food remain in the stomach longer which in turn makes one feel full longer.

Constipation

Related to how it effects the digestive system, interestingly enough drinking sparkling water can help relieve constipation. As noted in a study on the effects of carbonated water intake on constipation study, elderly subjects who drank seltzer water had a 58% decrease in constipation symptoms compared to those subjects drinking tap water. In a related study, it was found that people with chronic digestive issues saw significant improvements in their symptoms after 15 days of drinking sparkling water. So, it is apparent that drinking seltzer water is beneficial to relieving constipation and digestive issues.

Weight Loss

According to a report from the University of Chicago Medicine, sparkling water offers a more pure and true hydration compared to sugar soda or even diet soda. People who are not properly hydrated may exhibit symptoms of hunger because they cannot tell the difference between hunger and thirst.

Also, in the realm of weight loss, unsweetened seltzer water is a good alternative to sugar sodas for those trying to shed pounds.

Bone Health

There is a popular misconception that seltzer water is bad for bone health. In fact, a large study of over 2,500 people found that cola is the only carbonated beverage that significantly effects bone health in the form of lower bone mineral density. As noted in a study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, because sugary cola contains high levels of phosphorus, researchers believe the lower bone mineral density is due to consuming too much phosphorus and not enough calcium. In a study of postmenopausal women, researchers found that subjects drinking 34 ounces of sodium-rich sparkling water exhibited far better calcium retention compared to those drinking noncarbonated mineral water.

Heart Health

In the same study of postmenopausal women that derived the finding that seltzer water aids in calcium retention, it also found that drinking carbonated, sodium-rich water has a positive impact on heart health.  Women in the study who drank sodium-rich sparkling water exhibited a decrease in LDL cholesterol (commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol”). They also exhibited lower blood sugar. Further, they exhibited an increase in HDL (“good cholesterol”).

LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” because it contributes to fatty buildups in the arteries. HDL cholesterol is considered “good” because it carries the LDL cholesterol away from arteries and back to the liver where it can be broken down and passed from the body.

Conclusion

Sparkling water is a great alternative to sugary sweetened colas. Sparkling water poses little of the damage sugar soft drinks have on tooth enamel, and has benefits that effect hydration, heart health, digestive health, and bone health. Switching from sugar soda to unsweetened sparkling water can also have a dramatic influence on weight loss.

Rather than sipping seltzer throughout the day, which could have a cumulative negative effect on tooth enamel (but not nearly like the effects of sugar soda), the best option to get the maximum health benefits from seltzer water is to drink it with meals and then chase it with plain water or tooth brushing. This will keep you feeling full to prevent overeating, and will optimize you for positive heart, digestion, and bone health.

While new studies will add to our understanding of the health benefits of drinking sparkling water, the existing data is encouraging. Plus, sparkling water offers the advantage that it tastes great. Compared to sweetened carbonated beverages or noncarbonated beverages like Gatorade that utilize high fructose corn syrup, sparkling water is a great alternative.

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