Is sparkling water good for you? What about hard seltzer?

Is sparkling water good for you?

Move over, soda and beer. Hard seltzers and carbonated water drinks — including sparkling, seltzer, fizzy and mineral waters — are all the rage right now. It's a multibillion-dollar industry. But is sparkling water good for you?

Carbonated water is a healthier alternative to soda, juice or sports drinks like Gatorade. Hard seltzers tend to have fewer calories than beer. But not all carbonated water drinks are created equal. Some contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners, which can add calories, harm teeth and trigger some health conditions.

Can sparkling water help you lose weight?

Yes. For people watching their weight, hydration is key. Sparkling water provides hydration, and it’s a much better option than drinking regular soda or even diet soda, which does not provide adequate hydration. If a person’s not hydrated, they may always feel hungry because the body can’t tell the difference between hunger and thirst.

But people who are watching their weight should be careful which type of carbonated water they drink. Tonic water, for example, has about 15 grams of sugar in a serving — that’s about a third as much as a regular soda. So drinking a lot of tonic water is not the best option. Instead, drink club soda or sparkling water with no added sugar.

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Does carbonated water trigger the “hunger hormone” ghrelin?

Probably not. There was a small animal study that found consuming only carbonated water caused an increase in ghrelin. More studies need to be performed. In some studies, carbonated water improved satiety, or the feeling of fullness. That could be a benefit for people who constantly feel hungry. Carbonated water improves digestion and helps constipation, so that empties the stomach and could possibly make someone feel hungry.

Is sparkling water a good alternative for people trying to kick a soda habit?

Absolutely. Club soda or sparkling water will hydrate people better than regular soda, as long as the drink doesn’t have added sugar.

Is carbonated water bad for you if it contains artificial flavoring? What should people look for on labels?

Carbonated water flavored with artificial flavoring is OK, but we recommend limiting excessive artificial flavoring and sweeteners, like aspartame or Splenda. They may be better than regular soda, but more studies need to be done on sweeteners and artificial flavoring. People should also be mindful of sodium. If each can of carbonated water has 100 or 200 milligrams of sodium, that can add up. Some carbonated waters are made with carbonic acid to create the carbonation, but that shouldn’t have a detrimental effect. Even if carbonated water is a little bit acidic, it shouldn’t have an effect on the dental enamel.

What to look for on carbonated water labels:

  • Make sure it’s zero calories and zero sugar.
  • Avoid drinks with high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar. 
  • Check how much sodium is in each can.

Does drinking sparkling water cause gas and bloating?

For some people, drinking too much sparkling water can induce gas and bloating, making them uncomfortable. Patients with acid reflux, gastroesophgeal reflux disease (GERD), or gas who are drinking mostly carbonated water should switch to non-carbonated beverages, like plain water. More studies are needed on the impact on people with acid reflux, GERD and heartburn, because sugar can really impact GERD. Using straws to drink carbonated water can increase gas and bloating. Read GERD and obesity frequently asked questions. 

However, some patients find carbonated water improves their digestion and reduces indigestion.

Can carbonated water help people who have trouble swallowing?

Some small studies showed carbonated water helped people clear their throat and swallow better. Three million Americans have dysphagia or trouble swallowing. Carbonated water could be beneficial for some of those patients, but consult your doctor first.

Can sparkling water cause bone density loss?

Sparkling water has no negative effect on bone health. The only drinks that cause bone loss are dark colas, which have phosphoric acid that leads to losing calcium in your bones. Sparkling mineral water has calcium in it, which can improve bone health. And the carbonated mineral waters with magnesium and calcium may have bone-boosting benefits.

Can you make carbonated water yourself?

Yes. There are machines people can buy that add carbonation to water. As long as people don’t add sugar, it’s fine.

Is hard seltzer good for you?

Hard seltzers contain alcohol and should be consumed in moderation, which is one drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men. Consuming larger volumes of alcohol can have adverse health consequences. However, if you choose to drink alcohol in moderation, hard seltzers can be a good way to reduce your overall calorie intake compared to other alcoholic beverage options like beer.

Are hard seltzers better for you than beer?

Hard seltzers can be lower in calories and carbohydrates than most beer. There are some light and low-carb beers that may have the same or fewer calories and carbohydrates than some brands of hard seltzer. The number of calories is affected by the percentage of alcohol in the seltzer, but most standard hard seltzers and light beers have a similar percentage of alcohol. Thus, a hard seltzer that is lower in calories and carbs than a beer is better.

Are hard seltzers hydrating?

Hard seltzers contain water, so there is some hydrating component at play, but they also contain alcohol, which can cause increased urination, contributing to dehydration. Alcohol in general acts as a diuretic and therefore can contribute to dehydration. Hard seltzers should not be a primary form of hydration.

How do I choose a healthy hard seltzer?

Choose a hard seltzer that is lower in calories. Most run 90 to 110 calories per beverage. Check the grams of sugar and total carbohydrates. Every brand varies when it comes to carbohydrate content. Choose a lower sugar hard seltzer option, which typically results in a lower calorie product.


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