Is carbonated water bad for you, or is it a refreshing way to stay hydrated? Here's what to consider when deciding whether or not to avoid this bubbly drink.
Enjoyed as both a sugar-free soft drink and as a popular ingredient in many cocktail recipes, carbonated water is a drink you’ve likely enjoyed at least once. But what is it actually made of? And are there any downsides to drinking it? We’ll explain what goes into carbonated water and clear up any misconceptions around this beverage.
What Is Carbonated Water?
In basic terms, carbonated water (or sparkling water) is regular drinking water that has been infused with carbon dioxide. This is done by pressurizing the carbon dioxide and lowering the water’s temperature which causes the carbon to dissolve and create carbonic acid. In fact, the bubbles and fizziness we associate with carbonated water are actually the result of carbon dioxide being released in bubble form when the pressure or temperature is changed again, such as when we open a pressurized can of sparkling water.
Carbonated water is a popular ingredient in many non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. However, there is more variety in the types of carbonated water than you may think. For instance, carbonated water is different from tonic water — another common ingredient in mixed drinks — which is carbonated water that contains quinine and (typically) sugar. Artificially carbonated water also differs from naturally carbonated water, which contains natural mineral and sulfuric compounds.
Is Carbonated Water Bad For You?
So what is the health impact of drinking carbonated water? Surprisingly, there is evidence to suggest that drinking a reasonable amount of carbonated water in your day-to-day life may actually be good for you. In particular, this beverage has been linked to better digestion, with its carbonation reported to help reduce bloating and trapped gas in some people. In terms of sugar consumption, carbonated water is also considered to be better for us in the sense that it contains less sugar than the average soft drink whilst being as equally hydrating as regular, non-carbonated water.
There are also many misconceptions about carbonated water and its supposed unhealthiness. Despite its similarity in taste and sensation to high-sugar soft drinks that can cause health issues, plain carbonated water does not cause accelerated tooth decay or a decrease in bone density. There is also no scientific evidence to suggest that carbonated water can cause dehydration or osteoporosis or that it contains enough acidity to damage any of your organs. In fact, there is actually evidence to suggest that carbonated water may help with relieving symptoms of constipation and ease swallowing in adults.
Although carbonated water usually helps with digestion, the carbonation may contribute to heartburn and acid reflux in some people. For more advice and natural remedies for stomach issues, check out our guide to 12 natural remedies for bloating.
So should we be drinking it? Ultimately, carbonated water is not suggested to have any major health impacts in its unsweetened form and may actually help with digestion. However, as previously mentioned, there is a big variety in the kinds of carbonated water that you can find on your supermarket shelves. Make sure to check that your carbonated water does not contain any added sugars or sweeteners if you intend to drink it for health purposes.
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