Are sodas healthier? Experts explain the truth about sparkling water

Are sodas healthier?  Experts explain the truth about sparkling water
Are sodas healthier?  Experts explain the truth about sparkling water

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The danger may be behind the refreshing fizz of your favorite seltzer.

While experts agree that carbonated water is generally safe to drink, it can affect gut health depending on the user and their beverage of choice.

Carbonation can cause symptoms such as bloating and worsen existing conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

«It’s a great alternative to fizzy drinks, alcoholic beverages or juices — all of which can have harmful effects on the gastrointestinal tract and overall health,» Stein noted. Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Fizzy water can cause reflux [people] with gastroesophageal reflux disease and bloating, gas, and diarrhea in people with irritable bowel syndrome,” Virginia-based nutritionist Katie Hadley told HuffPost.

Additives — like sugar or artificial sweetener — can also be a culprit in seltzer-induced symptoms, so choosing a seltzer that’s pure sparkling water is key to minimizing the consequences of drinking it.

According to board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Kenneth Brown, who is based in Texas, flavorings that can disrupt the gut microbiome can worsen the unpleasant symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

«Fizzy water has the potential to cause symptoms of reflux, gas or bloating in anyone,» explained board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Peter Stein, director of endoscopy at Phelps Hospital and North Westchester Hospital in New York.

«That said, most people don’t experience these symptoms when they drink a can of soda.»

Paradoxically, seltzer lovers may also find digestive relief by drinking sparkling water.

«For many, sparkling water can aid the digestive process and relieve symptoms such as gas and bloating by encouraging belching, which relieves pressure,» Brown explained. «It can also improve hydration and benefit overall gut health, especially for those who struggle to drink enough clean water.»

Like any indulgence, too much of a good thing can turn bad.

While there’s no dangerous amount of soda consumption, experiencing negative symptoms may be a sign to put the can away.

Sparkling water may ease digestive symptoms, but for others it worsens pre-existing conditions. Getty Images/iStockphoto

«Listen to your body and if you experience unpleasant symptoms, reduce the amount or stop drinking it altogether,» advised Hadley.

If soda is well tolerated, it can be a healthy substitute for its less healthy counterparts, such as soda or sweetened tea.

«It’s a great alternative to fizzy drinks, alcoholic beverages or juices — all of which can have harmful effects on the gastrointestinal tract and overall health,» Stein noted.




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