Sometimes there’s nothing like a carbonated beverage that, more than not, just pairs nicely with our meals.
Nowadays, when you visit your favorite local grocery store, taking a trip down the pop aisle, you’re likely to see a slew of seltzer waters, like LaCroix, Bubly, Aha, Perrier, the list could go on. For those looking to cut back on other pops like Coke and Pepsi, but still wanting to get the carbonation, it can be a decent substitute. I recently came across an article though that while still getting the benefits of hydration, at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than straight up water.
Christine Byrne, writing for Food Network, had a great post explaining that while flavored seltzer generally has no calories, sugar, or artificial sweeteners, you may want to keep in mind some of the ways that flavored seltzer can have an impact on your body.
Seltzer Impact On Bladder and Kidneys
Byrne mentions that a little while back, Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas, DPT had shared a video on TikTok, describing how seltzer water was a bladder irritant (implying that it can make one urinate more often), along with other drinks like coffee, tea, and alcohol. This, of course, went over like a lead balloon.
With that, urologists – doctors specializing in the genitourinary tract, made up of the kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, urethra and male reproductive organs – said that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to seltzer water and bladder irritation. That is unless you already have an overactive or sensitive bladder. Byrne cites Damon E. Davis, a urologist with The Urology Specialists of Maryland at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, saying that in healthy people, seltzer water won’t impact these organs any differently than regular water would.
However, given the seltzer’s carbon dioxide content (which makes it bubbly), it also means it’s slightly more acidic. So if you already have a sensitive bladder, that acid can irritate your stomach lining, creating the urge to urinate more often. Still, it shouldn’t necessarily cause any real damage to your bladder.
Gregory Quayle, MD, a urologist and advisory board member to Phoenix, a Canadian men’s health website, said the same goes for your kidneys. “Seltzer water does not have any specific impact on kidneys compared to still water. Cola is proven to lead to urinary changes and kidney stones because of phosphoric acid, not because of carbonation,” he said.
Also, the risk of overhydration isn’t any greater with seltzer than with regular water. However, if your urine tends to be crystal clear all the time, that can be a sign you’re drinking too much water, including seltzer, said Quayle.
What About Digestion?
When it comes to your stomach, believe it or not, seltzer might actually prove to be helpful. “Carbonated water can potentially help with dyspepsia (indigestion including pain, bloating, and nausea in the upper abdomen) and constipation,” according to Laura Manning, MPH, RD, a clinical nutrition director at the Susan and Leonard Feinstein IBD Clinical Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “This may be related to the carbon dioxide helping to move stomach and colonic contents along quicker,” said Manning. “Carbonation may also help to stimulate gastric acid to help increase digestion of food in the stomach.”
There can be a thing as too much seltzer, though, in this instance. “A large intake of seltzer in a short period may cause gastric distress or bloat and can weaken a valve that typically keeps stomach contents down,” said Manning. This can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease since carbonation can cause belching, leading to acid reflux and heartburn.
With that, if you’ve been diagnosed with GERD or have heartburn regularly, it might not hurt to take the seltzer or other carbonated drinks down a notch to see if that helps.
The Effects of Seltzer On Your Teeth
Yes, seltzer usually doesn’t have any sugar – the supervillain of your teeth – some dentists feel it might not be a bad idea to cut back a bit or perhaps drink some regular water after the fact.
Since seltzer has carbon dioxide, it is slightly more acidic than water. Pure water is generally neutral with a pH of 7, mineral water usually ranges between 5 and 6, unflavored sparkling water can have a balance of around 5.25, and flavored seltzers can have a balance are 3.8 to 4.8 depending on flavor. This means that seltzer is far less acidic than most other beverages; coke has a pH of 2.6-2.7, Sprite about 3.3, and orange juice at 3.5.
“Generally speaking, carbonation alone does not appear to damage the teeth,” said Dr. Alex Rubinov, DDS, a cosmetic dentist based in New York City. Some flavored seltzers can contain acidic added ingredients, leading to a more likely chance of tooth erosion than unflavored seltzers or regular water. “My rule of thumb would be one can a day with meals, and try to wash everything down with regular flat water at the end of the meal,” said Rubinov. Drinking a can of seltzer outside of meals? He still recommends rinsing your mouth with plain water afterward, which can wash away any remaining acid.
Bottom line – it appears drinking seltzer shouldn’t have a substantial negative impact on your overall health. Doctors don’t seem concerned about the seltzer water’s slight acidity on your organs. Unless you constantly go to the bathroom or see symptoms of overhydration, drink up that Limoncello.
The seltzer’s slight acidity could add up over time for your chompers. However, if you practice good dental hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing and professional cleanings as recommended, an extra can here, or there should be fine.
As a regular consumer of sparkling water myself, and given its recent popularity, I found the above very helpful! If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to comment below, and be sure to like, share and subscribe so that you don’t miss out! Thank you for being so supportive, and be sure to check out The Mitten Dad Show on your favorite podcast platform as well!