Carbonated water is merely water with carbonation added and is just as hydrating as water without carbonation.
How Is Carbonated Water Made?
Carbonated water is produced by dissolving highly pressurized carbon dioxide in plain water. The process excludes surrounding air from contaminating the water. This pressurized compound is quickly sealed to discourage the carbonation from escaping. When the container is opened and the pressure is released, the carbon dioxide is released and presents itself as small bubbles, the effect of which causes the water to become “fizzy”.
This process does not add calories or alter the hydrating effects to the original water that was carbonated. That does not mean that all carbonated water beverages are created equal.
What’s In a Name?
Though plain carbonated water will hydrate you just as effectively as plain water, some beverages that include carbonation can actually dehydrate you. For example, tonic water, club soda, and seltzer water all look the same, but are not interchangeable when considering hydration factors.
Seltzer Water. Seltzer is the clear winner when choosing a carbonated water beverage with no additives. Plain seltzer is simply water with carbonation. Seltzer water is available with flavorings, so it is important to check the nutrition label to ensure that it doesn’t have added sugar and calories.
Club Soda. You need to be slightly more vigilante when choosing a club soda for hydration. Club soda is calorie-free, but differs from seltzer water by the addition of various forms of sodium. Adding carbon dioxide to plain water lowers its pH, which causes the beverage to become more acidic. The addition of potassium or sodium based alkaline compounds such as sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, or potassium sulfate, reduces acidity and enhances the flavor. The amount and variations vary among brands. This could be problematic for those on a low sodium diet.
Example: Schweppes Club Soda (8 oz)
Sodium: 95 mg
The body requires a small amount of salt to function properly. The Adequate Intake (AI) as recommended by the Institute of Medicine is 1500mg per day. The recommended daily intake for water is 64 ounces. If you plan to replace your recommended daily intake of water with this particular club soda, you will have ingested 760 mg of sodium, more than half of your daily intake. Considering the fact that natural salt in foods accounts for 10% of intake, table salt accounts 5-10%, and processed food account for 75%, additional salt should be avoided.
Tonic Water. Tonic water is NOT the optimal choice for replacing plain water to maintain hydration. Tonic water is a bitter carbonated beverage made with quinine as well as additional additives such as salts and sugars, both of which can dehydrate.
Example: Schweppes Tonic Water (8 0z)
Sodium: 55 mg
Carbohydrates: 33 g
Sugar: 32 mg
Additives That Dehydrate
If you are attempting to replace your daily water intake with carbonated water for hydration, additives become a focal point. In excessive amounts, the following additives can negate positive hydration effects.
Caffeine. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and quickly flushes water from the body, which is not optimal when attempting to remain hydrated.
Salt. Salt is essential for the body to function normally, but too much salt can be problematic. The brain detects changes in the amount of sodium in the blood and compensates by sending out a thirst response when the sodium levels are too high. In the case of hydration, excessive salt intake can make you thirsty.
Sugar. Excessive sugar can cause dehydration because the fluids necessary for normal body functions are required to dilute sugar in your bloodstream. Your body also combats too much sugar by urinating.
Alcohol. If you are attempting to maintain hydration, don’t add alcohol to your carbonated water. Alcohol causes you to lose water through urination. When you drink alcohol, your body urinates more liquid than the amount of alcohol consumed. This is because alcohol inhibits the brain’s ability to produce anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). ADH regulates how much you urinate. When alcohol reduces its production, it causes you to urinate even more.
Carbonation May Have Health Benefits
Research has indicated that water with added carbonation may actually provide health benefits. One such study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that when compared to regular tap water, carbonated water significantly reduced dyspepsia and constipation, and improved gallbladder emptying.
One health concern with drinking carbonated water relates to those with irritable bowel syndrome. IBS can be irritated with the introduction of carbon dioxide to the digestive tract, which can cause bloating and gas.
Consumption of soft drinks has a dramatic effect on individual health habits. Soft drink consumers were found to have a higher energy intake and body weight and were less likely to choose beverages containing higher nutrient counts such as milk.
American Journal of Public Health
In an interesting study, placing a free water cooler next to soda for sale did not impact the soda sales or encourage water consumption.
Journal of Obesity Facts
Drinking a sodium-rich carbonated mineral water could reduce the risk of cardiovascular risk in post-menopausal women.
Journal of Nutrition