Is Sparkling Water a Legitimate Replacement For Water?

To say that sparkling anything is a craze right now is an understatement. From sparkling water to Selzer water to club soda to spiked soda water - there is a flavor to suit all your recreational needs. But how healthy IS sparkling water and can it replace regular water the way many of its advocates suggest? 


Glass of seltzer water


The answer to that question is a bit convoluted because it depends on a variety of factors. What kind of soda water you are drinking, how often you are drinking it, and if you have preexisting conditions like acid reflux or stomach ulcers - these are all variables when deciding if soda water should be consumed over regular water.


Firstly, it’s important to note that not all sparkling water is created equally. La Croix for example (one of the most fashionable drinks of choice right now) contains no sodium whereas other club sodas do. Drinks that contain sodium can be bad for people with high blood pressure or other health conditions that require a restriction of salt in their diet. And even if you don’t have issues taking in extra salt, soda water with sodium can defeat the whole purpose of hydration since salt works as a diuretic. In the case of hydration, you’ll want to go for a sodium-free or regular water. 


Flavor also can be a factor in how good this niche of drinks is to consume - especially with regards to your teeth and enamel. Whereas regular water has a pH level of 7.4 (putting it in the neutral zone between acidic and alkaline), sparking waters tend to have lower pH levels which makes them more acidic. While most experts agree that enjoying a club soda once a day probably won’t have a negative impact on your teeth, they do suggest not making it your primary beverage of choice, specifically if you enjoy the citrus-flavored drinks. Why? Because flavors like orange or lemon have citric acid which is hard on the enamel of your teeth. 


Another thing to be wary of when consuming sparkling drinks is how they affect your esophagus. Gastric distension caused by the CO2 bubbles can decrease the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, which acts as a protector from bile coming back up from the stomach to the esophagus. Chronic ingestion of soda water can result in chronic heartburn, acid reflux, and even throat and sinus issues. Again, this is usually the case with people that consume large quantities of said drinks. 


Moral of the story? You don’t need to give up you La Croix, or Bubbly, or Perrier, or whatever drink is trending at the moment. In fact, experts say it is a good way to supplement getting your 8 cups of daily water if you aren’t prone to naturally drink regular water all day. However, be mindful of what kind of soda water you are drinking and how your body responds to it. If you find that you are experiencing chronic sinus issues (including an irritated throat and cough), that might be the result of acid reflux and you should significantly cut down on your intake.


By McClain Warren

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