Carbonated water is a popular way to drink water nowadays, as the fizz adds a nice kick to otherwise plain water. Diluting fruit juice with carbonated water is a much healthier and better thirst-quenching alternative to sodas. But some consumers may wonder if the carbonation itself may be harmful to us.
Interestingly, there are conflicting expert views on this.
Research conducted in England, published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Dental Association, reported that brushing teeth with a mildly abrasive toothpaste would take an estimated 100 years to erode the top 1 mm of tooth enamel. But a person who brushes their teeth with this type of toothpaste, and drinks carbonated beverages daily, would get the same level of tooth erosion in only two years!
However, some researchers have concluded that the damage caused to teeth from carbonated beverages is not produced by the carbonation, but by other ingredients in the drinks.
Carbon dioxide dissolved in water produces carbonic acid, which some health professionals suspect may erode tooth enamel, increase stomach acidity and worsen gastric ulcers. Other experts, on the other hand, say that the calcium and other minerals present in most waters, even tap water, buffer the effects of the carbonic acid.
Indeed, many people find drinking carbonated water to be beneficial, as it can quickly relieve an upset stomach. In one small study of people with chronic indigestion, one group of subjects drank 1.5 liters of non-carbonated water a day, and the other group drank 1.5 liters of carbonated water. After two weeks, most of the subjects who were drinking carbonated water reported experiencing less indigestion. The group that drank the non-carbonated water saw little or no improvement.
For those who suffer from acid reflux, however, fizzy drinks, which often lead to burping, can worsen reflux symptoms. As such, people with reflux are usually advised to avoid carbonated beverages. Patients treating gastric ulcers are also told to avoid all carbonated beverages, including sodas and naturally carbonated drinks like beer and sparkling mineral waters, as they can irritate the already damaged stomach lining.
Sodas, and in particular, colas, have been linked to many adverse health effects, including obesity (even those artificially sweetened) and lower bone mineral density. These problems result from the other, toxic, artificial ingredients in the sodas, from excessive sugar, and from resulting decreased consumption of calcium and other important nutrients in the diet.
The conclusion appears to be, then, that plain carbonated water is not bad for most people to drink; but you should be on the lookout for flavoring agents and other ingredients that can make soda waters significantly more acidic and could also increase sodium content.
By Lisa Pecos