Sparkling water contains dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, which makes the water fizzy. The carbonation of sparkling water can occur naturally or artificially.
Sparkling or carbonated water forms naturally when volcanic gases dissolve in springs or wells of natural water. This naturally occurring sparkling water often contains minerals such as sodium or calcium.
To artificially carbonate water, pressurized CO2 is injected into the water, forming bubbles. Artificially carbonated water may naturally contain minerals, or it may have minerals added to it.
There has been some debate regarding the health implications of sparkling water. Read on to discover the possible risks of drinking sparkling water and how it compares to other carbonated drinks.
Is carbonated water a health risk?
Water is an essential resource that all people need to live. A person cannot survive without water, as it is required for many processes within the body. However, certain properties of sparkling water may be associated with health risks.
There are theories that carbonated beverages can cause calcium loss in bones. Researchers believe that phosphorus, which is present in some natural soda water, reduces the amount of calcium that the body can absorb. According to a study in 2006Trusted Source, cola beverages are associated with low bone mineral density in women.
However, carbonated water does not contain phosphorus. In addition, most people get sufficient phosphorus from food, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, certain carbonated mineral spring waters can help improve bone health. The organization notes that carbonated drinks should not take the place of calcium-rich beverages, such as milk.
Sparkling water, whether natural or artificial, contains CO2, which makes it slightly acidic. Acid in food and drinks can erode the hard protective layer of the tooth, known as the enamel.
In a 2017 studyTrusted Source, researchers found that artificially carbonated water eroded tooth enamel in a laboratory setting. The erosion of enamel increased when the water had higher levels of carbonation.
In addition, certain sparkling waters may have citric acid added to them to enhance the flavor. Citric acid can also increase the acidity of the carbonated water, which can lead to erosion. The addition of sugar in some carbonated water also increases the erosion effect on enamel.
A person may be able to limit the eroding effect of carbonated water by drinking through a straw. Doing so can prevent the sparkling water from touching the teeth, as it moves more directly into the throat.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Although carbonated water does not cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), its consumption may cause a person’s symptoms to flare up, and people should avoid carbonated water and other carbonated drinks, according to researchTrusted Source.
There are conflicting studies on the effect of sparkling water on weight gain.
A study from Japan found that drinking carbonated water led to feelings of fullness in young females. However, the study was small and offered no data on the effects of drinking carbonated water among males.
Sparkling water does not lead to weight gain, as it contains zero calories. However, when other ingredients are added, such as sweeteners, sugar, and flavor enhancers, the beverage may then contain sodium and extra calories — usually 10 calories or less. However, calories associated with sparkling water will not generally lead to weight gain, even over time.
There is some researchTrusted Source suggesting carbonated water can increase ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone. These findings were in an animal study, and the results have not been corroborated in human studies.
How does it compare to other drinks?
When compared to other drinks, carbonated water, unlike alkaline water, can be seen as a healthier alternative. Plain carbonated nano water consists of water and CO2, meaning there are no added sugars, sweeteners, or artificial flavorings. Sparkling water hydrates the body in the same way as plain water.
What are the concerns about sugary drinks?
A person who drinks sugary beverages regularly may be at riskTrusted Source of certain health conditions, such as:
type 2 diabetes
nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
The CDC state that sugary drinks are the primary source of added sugars in the American diet. They also note that, on a given day between 2011 and 2014, 63%Trusted Source of youths drank a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB), averaging 143 calories. In the same period, 49%Trusted Source of all U.S. adults consumed an SSB, averaging 145 calories.
Information from the CDC suggests that adults and adolescents are more likely to drink sugary beverages if they also:
do not get enough sleep
do not get enough exercise
eat fast food regularly
do not eat fruit regularly
What healthy flavors can be added to sparkling water?
A person who would like to add some healthy flavor or sweetness to their sparkling water can try:
adding a few slices of cucumber or citrus fruit
adding a splash of 100% fruit juice, such as pomegranate
putting in a few blueberries or strawberries
adding some mint leaves
mixing in some chunks of watermelon or mango
Adding healthy fruits, vegetables, or herbs to their water means a person gets additional benefits from their vitamins and minerals.
Sparkling water can occur naturally or be created artificially as healthy drinking water.
Sparkling water does not cause calcium loss, but it may contribute to tooth decay. Carbonated water may also cause flare-ups of IBS symptoms. More studies are required to understand the effect of sparkling water on weight gain.
Carbonated water is a healthier alternative to sugary drinks. A person can add fruits, vegetables, or herbs to sparkling water to gain additional flavor and health benefits.