Until last March, I was a tap water girl. Having lived 95 percent of my life in the New York metropolitan area, I’ve been lucky to have refreshing, high-quality water coming from my kitchen (and bathroom, if I’m feeling lazy) sink. But once the pandemic hit and I was barely leaving the house, I started to crave something a bit more, well, interesting. Enter sparkling water. Be it LaCroix, Bubly or Spindrift (or White Claw post-work, I’m not ashamed to say), I have, for the first time in my life, become a seltzer person. But the more variations I tried, the more I wondered: Is sparkling water good for you? The answer, in short, is that as long as you’re opting for a sparkling water that’s free from added sugars and flavoring agents, it’s totally fine. Read on for everything you need to know about what seems to be the daytime beverage du jour.
What Is Sparkling Water, Exactly?
Sparkling water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. It’s also known as carbonated water, club soda, soda water and seltzer water. Some brands of may contain extra additives to make them tastier, from sodium and artificial sweeteners to flavoring agents—all of which could cause negative effects on your health.
What Are the Pros of Drinking Sparkling Water?
1. It Can Help You Stay Hydrated
Even though sparkling water is carbonated, it has the same hydrating effects as still water. As you likely know, hydration is super important for a number of reasons, including helping your body get rid of toxins, keeping you, ahem, regular and keeping you alert. (According to a 2019 study, research shows that dehydration has “negative effects on vigor, esteem-related affect, short-term memory, and attention” and, “rehydration after water supplementation improved fatigue, TMD, short-term memory, attention, and reaction.” Makes sense considering water makes up 75 percent of the brain.)
2. It Might Help You Lose Weight
For two reasons, actually. First, hydration is hugely important to losing weight. Drinking lots of water can even kickstart your metabolism. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, drinking approximately 20 ounces of water on an empty stomach can increase your metabolic rate by 30 percent. Whether still or sparkling, start your morning off with a full glass to help put your body on a path toward more efficient digestion for the rest of your day. Carbonated water can also help you feel fuller after eating, as sparkling water may help food remain in your stomach longer, which can trigger a greater sensation of fullness.
3. It Might Help You Kick Your Soda Habit
If you’re having trouble kicking your Diet Coke addiction, sparkling water can be a great fizzy alternative. Sure, it’s not exactly the same, but if soda’s bubbling sensation is part of why you like it, substituting sugary (be it fake or artificial) drinks for healthier sparkling water is a step in the right direction.
What Are the Cons of Drinking Sparkling Water?
1. It Might Cause Bloating or Gas
Because sparkling water contains CO2 gas, the bubbles in this fizzy drink can cause burping, bloating and other gas symptoms. Though these may not be particularly harmful for most people, those with gastrointestinal issues, like IBS or Crohn’s disease, might want to avoid drinking too much carbonated water.
2. It Could Damage Your Tooth Enamel (More Than Regular Water, at Least)
One of the biggest concerns about sparkling water is its effect on teeth, as your enamel is directly exposed to acid. But here’s the thing: Though there’s very little research on this topic, the data that is out there strongly suggests that sparkling water isn’t so bad for your teeth, relatively speaking. One study in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation found that sparkling mineral water damaged enamel only slightly more than still water—and was 100 times less damaging than sugary sodas. Furthermore, The American Dental Association says that sparkling water is generally fine for your teeth, as long as there aren’t added sugars or other additives.
The Bottom Line
Carbonated water is a healthier alternative to soda or juice, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all sparkling waters are created equal, with many containing added sugars or artificial sweeteners, which can have negative effects on your health. Still, if you’re discerning about the sparkling waters you’re buying and drinking, seltzers can be a great way to stay hydrated and drink less soda.