In praise of the bubbly – water, that is

I love sparkling water. For me, it’s more refreshing than still water and I love the way the bubbles feel in my mouth and throat. I also find it cleans my palate better than still water between wines. It’s been available for a long time now and with the introduction of home carbonators like SodaStream, it’s more accessible than ever. However, I often wonder if sparkling water is better to drink than still.

There is some speculation that sparkling water saps calcium from your bones, can lead to stomach problems like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and erodes tooth enamel. It makes one wonder if drinking too much of it is not good for us.

Personally, I think this is nonsense. There is no evidence whatsoever that bubbly water drains your bones of calcium. As someone who has stomach issues, and have had for well over 20 years, I can tell you that I didn’t get it from sparkling water and can honestly say that consuming it does not make my condition any worse. According to my dentist, fizzy water will not erode my teeth either.

When I say sparkling water, I’m talking about unflavoured, unsweetened, minimally salted versions. That fruit-flavoured stuff you buy at the supermarket contains sugar and that, in combination with bubbles, probably contains more acidity. That additional sugar and acid may very well lead to tooth enamel erosion as well as weight gain. They also contain added salt and probably other ingredients that aren’t good either.

Be aware of those little flavour packets you can buy or the ones that come with your home carbonator because they may not be very healthy, often containing added sugar, calories and other ingredients. If you simply must have flavoured bubbly, then try using fresh fruit (lime, lemon, orange, strawberries, raspberries, etc.), cucumber slices, mint sprigs or other herbs. Even some of the unflavoured commercial bottles at the store contain extra sodium so read labels carefully when shopping.

From what I know, nutritionists and health professionals have no problem at all with consuming pure bubbly water and find it basically harmless. They say it hydrates just as well as still water.

Drawbacks, if any, could include some unpleasant symptoms for folks who have sensitive stomachs and find changes in their diet harder to adjust to. You’re basically consuming more air with the bubbles, so you might be prone to extra gas in your system resulting in excessive burping, etc. Some people might even feel a little bloated in the abdominal area. I personally haven’t had any problem with sipping fizzy water at all. In fact, I believe it aids in my digestion of food better than still water.

I believe sparkling water, as long as it isn’t sweetened with sugar and contains added sodium and other ingredients, is just as good for you as still water – no scientific research that I’m aware of suggests otherwise. In fact, some folks who are dieting have told me that because it tends to fill you up, a glass before dining results in eating less at mealtime. If you have some sort of medical condition or are on medication that you think might conflict with sparkling water, it’s probably best to consult your doctor. Beyond that, enjoy the fizz!


Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator, judge

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