Carbonated water—also called sparkling or effervescent water, club soda, seltzer water, tonic water, fizzy water—is water that contains carbon dioxide gas dissolved under pressure—the bubbles are the carbon dioxide (CO2) escaping the liquid once the pressure has been released by opening the bottle or container. There are some differences between these types of carbonated water—club soda, for example tends to contain added minerals while tonic water contains quinine and a small amount of sugar, usually high fructose corn syrup. Flavors can be added to any of these forms of carbonated water.
There are many different makers of carbonated water, but read the labels, especially if you are on a sodium-restricted diet, to see how much if any sodium may be in the carbonated water. You also want to be certain that the water is pure without any additional sugars, flavorings or color agents.
Is Carbonated Water Healthy?
Maybe the question should be—if you want a “YES!” answer—is carbonated water healthier than other beverages? In this case, the answer is definitely yes!
Carbonated water is healthier than diet or regular soda, healthier than alcoholic drinks, healthier in general than coffee, healthier in some ways than juices and possibly healthier than some teas, particularly in some circumstances.
Carbonated water is healthier than diet or regular soda because it contains nothing but CO2 and water—carbonated mineral water will have extra minerals in it as well, but diet and regular soda contains sugars, sugar substitutes, concentrated sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), phosphates and phosphoric acid, caffeine, added colors and preservatives, artificial and natural flavors, and other substances. On top of that list, sodas and diet sodas generally have no nutritional value—they are “empty calories” meaning they provide calories but no nutrition.
Carbonated water is healthier than alcoholic beverages because alcohol contains sugars and empty calories—plus, if you overdo alcohol, you can also create liver, kidney and addiction issues.
Carbonated water is healthier in general than caffeine, though caffeinated drinks do have some benefits—caffeine can, for example improve your energy levels and your cognitive abilities (especially in the morning when so many of us are….a bit slow…). Caffeine can also help burn fat (along with other dietary measures and exercise), and, for reasons that are not clear, may lower the risk of T2D, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Carbonated water can be healthier than fruit juices because it contains no sugar. On the other hand, while fruit juices contain varying amounts and kinds of sugars, they also contain varying amounts of vitamins, minerals and sometimes soluble fiber. Carbonated water can be healthier than some teas for some people who are, for example, at risk for some types of kidney stones.
Overall, carbonated water can be an excellent choice as a beverage, though most physicians (and dentists…see below) would suggest that simple water is the very best choice of beverage for anyone, including people with diabetes.
What is the “Bad Side” of Carbonated Water
The main concern with carbonated water is that it is somewhat acidic and can erode the enamel on your teeth. Some early signs of this may be sensitivity to cold or heat and discoloration. One study did find that carbonated water is potentially corrosive to the teeth. On the other hand, it would take prolonged exposure to carbonated water to have much of an effect—and the acidity can be lessened if you do two things—first, drink carbonated water during meals and second, rinse with water after you finish your drink. For most people having 2-4 bottles of carbonated water will not cause any serious problems, especially if they practice good dental hygiene and see their dentist regularly.
What is the Bottom Line on Carbonated Drinks and Diabetes?
The bottom line is that having carbonated drinks in place of sugary drinks or even diet soda is perfectly fine and even a good choice for people with diabetes. Water is still the absolute best choice, but as long as you continue to take care of your teeth, carbonated water is a great way to keep hydrated.