How it impacts on your teeth, bones and stomach

While drinking the occasional glass of carbonated or sparkling water is fine, tap water remains the number-one healthy liquid of choice. Consuming the majority of your water intake as sparkling could well be doing some degree of damage, though it affects different areas of your body in different ways. Here’s how:

Your teeth

Sparkling water is made by combining carbon dioxide (CO²) with water under pressure. The resulting carbonated water contains a weak acid known as carbonic acid which lowers the overall pH. Plain water is pH neutral at 7 whereas the average sparkling water is slightly acidic at around pH 5-6. Anything below the critical level of pH 5.5 can cause enamel demineralisation and the risk of tooth decay. Drinking it with a straw will help to preserve your tooth enamel.

Your bones

The theory is that phosphates or phosphoric acid contained in some carbonated drinks might interfere with calcium absorption, but studies so far have failed to show a strong link between excess phosphates in the diet and osteoporosis. Again, further studies are needed before we can make a health claim. The good news is that plain sparkling water is phosphate-free, unlike cola, diet cola soft drinks and bottled iced teas, which contain high levels of phosphoric acid.

Your stomach

While more research needs to be done to determine the long-term outcomes of drinking plain sparkling water, at this stage the effect on the stomach lining appears to be minimal, if at all.

Sweetened carbonated drinks, however, have been shown to increase the production of stomach acid, which may lead to inflammation of the lining and possibly the development of a stomach ulcer. If you have a pre-existing condition such as gastritis or reflux, it’s best to minimise any irritants including carbonated drinks, especially as they make you burp, causing acid to regurgitate into your oesophagus.

Always read the label

Many sparkling waters claim to be ‘healthy’ but contain sweeteners to give them a hint of flavour. Anything more than zero for energy, sugars or carbohydrates on the label indicates the addition of sugar. While the sodium content of plain sparkling water is quite low (5mg/250ml) a negligible contribution towards the recommended adequate sodium intake (460-920mg per day) – it’s best to make still water your preference.

Got a question for Kate? Email us at feedback@bodyandsoul.com.au.

While we’re on the topic of water, is it true that you can drink too much of it? Also, the health drink that is about to replace your coconut water.

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