Many people prefer bubbles in their water, but there are some concerns about whether sparkling water is the best choice from a health perspective.
In terms of tooth decay, plain carbonated water is slightly more acidic than plain water. Acidity levels can vary, depending on how much carbon dioxide is pumped into it, but you would have to drink a lot of soda water to match the acidity of other popular fizzy drinks, such as Coke and most ‘sports’ drinks.
Keep an eye out for added sugars, caffeine and acidic food additives (especially codes 296, 300, 330 and 331).
If you do drink highly acidic drinks (or acidic foods), dentists recommend you don’t brush vigorously immediately afterwards, as tooth enamel is weakened. Saliva and plain water will help correct the balance.
In terms of minerals, different forms of bubbly water can vary widely. Club soda contains sodium, seltzer water doesn’t. Tonic water contains sugar.
Naturally carbonated waters (such as Hepburn Springs, Perrier and San Pellegrino) contain CO2 from volcanic gases, and various amounts of trace minerals such as calcium, sodium, sulphate, chloride and magnesium.
Each of these have subtle effects on flavour and health, with natural mineral waters improving hydration and exercise performance in athletes, according to research.
Some people believe that carbonated drinks can lead to decreased bone health, irritable bone syndrome and weight gain.
The latest research suggests that carbonisation alone does not increase calcium loss in bones, but phosphorus in some soda drinks can bind to calcium and then go out through the kidneys, leading to higher risks of fractures and other bone health issues.
In terms of weight gain, the jury is out, with relevant studies only being conducted on rodents so far, but it appears that additives to fizzy waters are the main culprits to watch out for here.
Irritable bone syndrome (IBS) is a growing problem, with one study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology suggesting that as much of 23 per cent of the population are affected. Scientific studies show that while carbonated waters are not the cause of IBS, they can worsen symptoms.
Carbonated beverages can also cause heartburn, so it might be a good idea to avoid the bubbles if you have a history of acid reflux.
Too much gas?
For healthy hydration, carbonated and still waters are equally helpful, but some people find bubbly drinks increase bloating, gas and burping.
Others find that a glass of carbonated water can help reduce the discomfort of indigestion.
In terms of big picture, with many Australians not drinking enough water each day for optimum health, if bubbly water is more palatable then obviously more water is better than not enough.
Many people have invested in home carbonation systems so they can economically control how bubbly their water is, without unhealthy additives.
If carbonated water is not the best health option for you, but you’re dissatisfied with the water from your tap or tank, another great option is to invest in a decent home filter system. You might be pleasantly improved at the improvement in taste, and drink more healthy water as a result.
Your body will thank you!