I drink a lot of unsweetened seltzer. Does this have the same health benefits as drinking plain water?
There is still water and then there is what my 4 year old calls “hot water”, better known as seltzer or sparkling water. Crunchy, sparkling, and sparkling carbonated water has become a daily ritual for many and a growing segment of the beverage industry, with annual sales in the United States now exceeding $ 4 billion.
For those who crave it, carbonated water offers a sensory experience that shallow water can’t: it gives the satisfying crackle when you pull back the tab on the can. The sound of bubbling as you unscrew the bottle cap to pour yourself a glass. That tingly feeling when the drink touches your tongue, sometimes with a hint of “natural” taste.
Still water is great for hydration, “but you’d be surprised how many people don’t like the taste and are unwilling to drink it,” said Anne Linge, a registered nutritionist at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. “Adding carbon dioxide can make it more acceptable.”
Perhaps more acceptable, but just as healthy?
Nutritionists agree that carbonated water (a category that includes artificially carbonated seltzer water and, of course, sparkling water) is just as hydrating as regular water, but tap water has the added benefit of fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay.
“If you use fluoridated water for brushing your teeth, cooking and some of your hydration, you can include mineral water in your diet,” said Ms. Linge.
However, remember that carbonated water in our mouths is more acidic than shallow water.
Sparkling water contains carbon dioxide, which when mixed with saliva turns into carbonic acid, which lowers the pH of your mouth. The pH scale indicates whether a solution is more acidic (lower pH value) or alkaline (higher pH value). Drinks with a lower pH can damage teeth and make them more prone to tooth decay; However, unsweetened carbonated water isn’t nearly as erosive as soda or fruit juice, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
Some brands of carbonated water contain ingredients like citric acid for flavor that can increase acidity. Adding your own lemon or lime slices would have a similar effect. And because the ingredients list often says “natural flavor”, it’s hard to know what exactly has been added.
Even so, “it would take quite a bit of consumption throughout the day to have harmful effects similar to what we would see with fruit juice or soda,” said Dr. Brittany Seymour, associate professor at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association.
The bottom line: since carbonated water still has the potential to be erosive, consider it a daily treatment rather than your main source of water, said Dr. Seymour.
“If you want two or three bottled waters a day, maybe combine them with a meal,” she added.
When you eat, your mouth produces extra saliva that can help neutralize acids on the surface of your teeth.
If you’d rather drink it alone and without food – Dr. Seymour usually drinks unsweetened seltzer when cooking dinner – use a straw to draw the water past your teeth. In general, try not to sip on it for more than an hour. Drinking carbonated water for long periods of time increases the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the acid.
If you love carbonated water and like to drink it several times a day without meals, then brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay. Just make sure you wait at least 30 minutes after your last drink, said Dr. Seymour.
Why? The acidity of the carbonated water softens the tooth enamel. Taking a break gives your enamel a chance to remineralize and return to its normal hardened state, which is the ideal surface for brushing as it can tolerate abrasives better, she added.
In general, if you have kids who like to indulge in sparkling water, “I’d say it’s okay,” said Dr. Seymour. But she added, “I wouldn’t do it with my daughter every day.” Ideally, parents should encourage their children to drink still, fluorinated water to protect themselves from tooth decay and reserve the sparkling water for special occasions.
Carbonated drinks can also contribute to gas and gas, but the level varies from person to person.
“If you swallow carbonated it has to come out somewhere, so either burp it or gas will spread,” said Courtney Schuchmann, a registered nutritionist at the University of Chicago Medicine who specializes in gastrointestinal health. “If you already have problems with gas and gas, this can cause you more symptoms.”
Carbon dioxide can also worsen acid reflux and have a “satiating effect” that can decrease your appetite by puffing up your stomach, she added.
Regardless of which type of water you prefer, you should be drinking about half your body weight in ounces every day, with most of it being flat water, Ms. Schuchmann said. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink around 75 ounces of water to stay hydrated.
One more thing to note: Many people assume that club soda and seltzer water are interchangeable, but club soda usually contains sodium.
“This is something to consider for someone who watches their blood pressure,” says Schuchmann. “It depends on what the rest of your diet is like and how much sodium is coming from other sources.”