I was drinking my 3rd La Croix of the day when I thought to myself, “is it possible to drink too much sparkling water?” I had heard a rumor that this bubbly CO2-infused H20 might be bad for my teeth. But, I mean, it is water. And there is no sodium or sugar in La Croix. So, I’m good right? Well, I took to the internet to really find out.
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After finding a plethora of confounding articles I decided to turn to the professionals. First, I contacted Dana Roseman, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, who provides nutrition services here at the J. According to Dana, “carbonated water without sugar or artificial sweetener can be a healthy way to add water to your day. Carbonated water is also a great alternative to sugary beverages and colas that contain many unhealthy chemicals.” She also sent me some research backing that up.
The Skinny on the Fizzy
Carbonated water can come in many forms: tonic, seltzer, club soda, and mineral water. While mixing them with other ingredients to make a fizzy treat can drastically alter the nutritional content, drinking carbonated water on its own may actually have some positive effects on your health. Some of the possible benefits of carbonated water include:
Bursting the Bubble
In addition to hearing that carbonated water may be bad for your teeth, I had heard that it might be bad for your bones due to the high acid content.
However, when it comes to bone health we might be blaming the wrong element. Carbonation isn’t the culprit, cola, which contains a lot of phosphorus, is. One study found that cola drinkers drink too much phosphorus and not enough calcium; a recipe for bone loss.
And when it comes to your teeth, surprise surprise, sugar is probably to blame. While the enamel on your teeth is directly exposed to the acid in the water, the damaging effects may not be as high as the effects of sugary drinks like cola.
According to Dr. Scott Pincus of Parkhaven Dental Care, acidic things in our diet demineralize teeth, weakening them, and causing them to become porous on a microscopic and sometimes clinical level. Bacteria harbor in these weakened areas, and what does bacteria love? Sugar! The bacteria take the sugar and turns it into acidic products, thus weakening the situation even more. He says, “sparkling water is better than sodas, but they for sure have an effect on the enamel.” And, for those of us who have a La Croix obsession, using a straw can help, and moderation is key.
When to Cool It
The trick is to know what you are buying. Some sparkling waters are marketed as a “healthy” alternative to water but are actually full of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and sodium. So, when buying the bubbly check the nutrition facts on the back and read the ingredients.
And even better, sparkling mineral water like Perrier and San Pellegrino, while more expensive, give you the added burst of minerals and sulfur compounds for the added cents.