By now you know that soda—even diet soda—is not a part of a healthy diet. Regular soda is loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. The calories are empty—meaning they’re devoid of vitamins and minerals. And those calories add up; many studies link regular soda consumption with obesity.
Even diet soda doesn’t get a pass. Various reports have suggested that artificial sweeteners can increase one’s risk of cancer; that diet sodas stimulate one’s appetite and prompt overeating; and that diet sodas may increase the risk of stroke.
While WebMD notes that more research is needed, those of us who are trying to avoid artificial everything and consume fewer processed foods have been trying to scale back on the sodas.
Carbonated water has proved to be a popular alternative. Sales of sparkling water rose by 16.3 percent in 2011 and 34 percent in 2012, according to an article published January 14, 2014, at Forbes.com. Sparkling water offers the fizz and kick of a soda; some brands are even naturally flavored with lemon, grapefruit, apricot or cucumber. But this begs the question of whether we’re trading one evil for another.
Is Carbonated Water Somehow Bad For Our Health?
There’s little difference in hydration potential between carbonated water and regular/still water. The only way in which carbonated water may be bad is that it tends to fill you up faster, meaning you’re less likely to drink the volume of fluids you need every day and particularly after working out.
The suggestion that carbonated beverages will erode your teeth only holds true for carbonated cola drinks. While carbonated water is more acidic than regular water, it’s not necessarily the carbonated water that’s the bad guy here. Flavored fizzy water, however, has been found to have a slightly more corrosive effect on tooth enamel than plain carbonated water, so stick to the basics.
It’s the same case when it comes to bone health: Carbonated water isn’t bad, per se. Carbonated cola drinks have been linked to low bone mineral density, but other ingredients in soda are to blame for that effect.
Carbonated water might be bad for your belly, particularly if you’re sensitive to carbonation in general and prone to bloating and burping. It makes sense—you’re swallowing extra air when you consume carbonated beverages. But other studies have shown that carbonated water can help quell indigestion. If you’re not sure, keep track of your consumption of carbonated water in a food journal and note any unpleasant side effects.
Be sure you read labels carefully. Some carbonated waters contain artificial ingredients, sodium and even sugar. It’s best to buy plain carbonated water (or, if you have a SodaStream, to make plain carbonated water at home) and flavor it with fresh mint leaves, slices of organic cucumber or a handful of fresh organic berries.
But don’t be afraid to drink up. Despite the rumors, carbonated water isn’t bad for your health; in fact, if it encourages you to drink more water and less soda, it can be powerfully good!