Many of us consider seltzer a bubbly alternative to otherwise sugary sodas and juices. It’s the perfect drink for summertime and goes well with a variety of mixers. Plus, it’s cheap and completely healthy, right? Maybe not. Plenty of people seek this sparkling beverage because it’s just that — water infused with carbon dioxide. Actually, though, there’s a little more to it. So, is seltzer healthy?
What’s Inside the Drink
When you walk down the drink aisle at your local supermarket, you’ll likely see a few different types of carbonated water. There’s everything from club soda to tonic water to seltzer. The base of all these beverages is carbon dioxide, which produces the bubbles you see and feel in your mouth. The difference between them is what’s added after the fact. For example, while tonic water contains high-fructose corn syrup, club soda offers quite a bit of salt.
When you compare carbonated water with Coca-Cola or fruit punch, it’s clear that the change in ingredients is drastic. The effervescent drink has very few calories, if any. Aside from tonic water, there aren’t any fats or carbs. In this way, seltzer is healthy — it provides an experience similar to that of soda without the added preservatives, chemicals or sugar. That said, these components aren’t the problem here.
The Underlying Issues
People drink seltzer for several reasons. To some, it’s a great way to ensure they consume enough water throughout the day. Others love it as a replacement for alcohol. Either way, when you take a look at what it’s made of, carbonated water seems like the way to go. On the flip side, those bubbles turn into carbonic acid as soon as they hit your mouth. This reaction makes the beverage more acidic, which can decay tooth enamel.
When a drink’s potential hydrogen (pH) level is less than four, dental erosion occurs. As soon as carbon dioxide turns into carbonic acid, the pH level drops. Luckily, the difference isn’t too drastic, so carbonated water is still less damaging than certain sports drinks. Any type of enamel damage is irreversible. Carbonated water indeed has a slightly high acid content, but that doesn’t mean it affects the inside of your body.
Some assume that beverages like these damage bone growth. This belief stems from the presence of phosphoric acid within the drink. Ultimately, there’s no real evidence that this ingredient contributes to a loss of calcium unless you’re an adolescent girl. In that case, the consumption of certain carbonated drinks plays a role in low bone density.
In any case, it’s wise to cut back on your intake of these beverages. Overall, plain sparkling water poses few health risks, but those with certain additives, like tonic water, are more harmful. Standard water will always quench your thirst, so try to supplement other drink choices with that. This way, you won’t put your teeth and gums at risk.
Are There Benefits?
Despite a few downsides, seltzer is healthy in moderate amounts. Certain mineral waters contain ingredients like sulfate and calcium that aid in digestion. Do you have poor blood flow? Soaking your feet and legs in warm carbonated water may improve that issue. Alternatively, ice-cold seltzer can improve swallowing by clearing the throat. In some instances, it can also help with weight loss, as it creates a feeling of being full. Mineral water, in particular, may help control blood sugar, as it decreases glycoalbumin levels.
As for children, seltzer comes in handy when trying to make hydration fun. When your kid reaches the appropriate age, flavored carbonated waters can replace the need for soda and juice. If you find that your family is drinking too much of these other beverages, seltzer is a terrific alternative. Remember — each style of water is different. Mineral water may be best for children, as it supplies a bit of nutrition.
Researchers haven’t conducted enough studies to know the full range of these advantages. All in all, so long as you balance your intake of seltzer with noncarbonated beverages, you won’t have many issues. As with anything else, moderation is key.
So, is seltzer healthy? In a broader sense, yes. Almost all types of carbonated water contain no sugar, sodium or calories. Depending on the person, there may be a few benefits as well. The only thing to watch out for is the acidity, which can harm your teeth and gums.
If you drink multiple cans of soda a day, a switch to carbonated water can help purge your body of harmful ingredients. Try not to drink more than two seltzers a day, as any more can affect enamel health. Other than that, there aren’t any reasons to cut the beverage out completely. Pop open that can and enjoy — just make sure you drink some flat water afterwards.