Sparkling: Here’s how soda water affects the body

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The human body needs water – that’s for sure. But it’s not always easy to settle for a glass of this tasteless liquid when choosing other sparkling beverages seems so tempting. Turning one’s back on the sugary alternatives, there is almost no choice but to drink water. Many turn to sparkling water to prevent the mouth from falling asleep with boredom and make drinking easier. And this is a source of debate. Time and again, people argue about whether the addition of carbon dioxide is healthy or not. We have also addressed this question and clarified the issue.

Mineral water is considered groundwater with no unique properties. This natural product cannot be produced artificially and may only be called such if it comes from an underground water deposit; it is of original purity – filtered through rock layers – and its ingredients vary only insignificantly over time. Mineral water can be carbonated, but it does not have to be.

Sparkling water is, by definition, only carbonated drinking water. It is an artificial product. Compared to natural mineral water, it is mostly elaborately processed.

How does sparkling water get into the water?
Before we get into the myths surrounding sparkling water and its effects on the body, let’s first briefly explain how carbon dioxide gets into the drink in the first place. Of course, there is no magic behind it, but simple chemistry. CO₂ is added to the water under pressure so that the carbon dioxide combines with the water particles to form carbonic acid. This process is also called carbonation.

With natural mineral water from the spring, on the other hand, the carbonic acid is already partly there. This is also called natural spring carbonic acid, which comes from deep within the earth. This is because when water seeps through the rocks, it absorbs the carbon dioxide it contains. Since much of the CO₂ is lost, carbonic acid is added to the water after being pumped out.

Myths about carbonic acid
One of the many negative assumptions about carbonic acid is that it attacks teeth by destroying tooth enamel. This is said to make teeth more susceptible to decay. But dentists give the all-clear in this regard. On the part of the German Federal Dental Association, they say, “Carbonic acid has no erosive [i.e., eroding or degrading] potential.” However, they say other acids, such as citric acid, found in sodas and iced tea, or phosphoric acid (in cola drinks), are too acidic for teeth and can damage them.

Other concerns go in the direction of over-acidification of the stomach. Carbonated water has a lower pH value than still water. Tap water or still water usually has a pH of about 7, while sparkling water is 5.5 due to the carbon dioxide it contains.

Another myth that persists is that sparkling mineral water makes you fat. The basis for this assumption is a 2017 study by Birzeit University in Ramallah, which assumes that CO₂ increases the pressure on the stomach walls and that the body produces more appetite-stimulating ghrelin hormones. However, medically plausible evidence for the thesis is still lacking. Recent studies have also come to a different conclusion, which you will read in the next section.

What happens to the body
But what happens now? Carbonic acid in water has different effects. On the one hand, it improves blood flow to the oral mucosa and tongue, stimulating saliva flow and allowing different flavours to develop more intensively. In addition, sparkling water reduces the feeling of hunger. This is because the carbonic acid causes the stomach to expand, and a sense of fullness sets in. Another effect of sparkling water on the body is to support digestion. This is because it stimulates the production of digestive juices and thus positively affects stomach and intestinal function.

But beware: fullness can be perceived as unpleasant and cause flatulence in larger quantities. People who have to drink a lot – for example, athletes or people who do heavy physical work – should instead use water that is low in carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide-free. People with stomach problems should also keep their hands off sparkling drinks, as drinking them could otherwise lead to heartburn.

  • source: freizeit.at/picture: pixabay.com
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