A recent study raised alarm bells in the media by suggesting that fizzy water, even the kinds without added sugar, may make us hungrier, leading to weight gain.
Researchers from Birzeit University wanted to explore whether gases in carbonated drinks, rather than sugar, are actually causing weight gain, Cosmopolitan UK reported. The small study, published in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, found that rats who drank fizzy drinks had higher levels of the ghrelin hormone, which increases hunger. Although a small study of men was also conducted, the authors state that their findings have been misinterpreted in the news, telling the European Federation of Bottled Waters that the study was mainly conducted on rats and did not measure obesity in humans.
A more proven health concern is the impact of fizzy drinks on your teeth. In order to make a drink bubbly, manufacturers add pressurized carbon dioxide, instantly making the drink acidic, Mark Wolff, professor at New York University’s College of Dentistry, told the Huffington Post. This acid can make tooth enamel erode over time.
Seltzer and flavored sparkling waters are less acidic than other carbonated beverages, and an occasional drink is not harmful, but if you are an all-day sipper you could be hurting your teeth. “It’s only a big deal if [the carbonated beverage] sits and roasts on the teeth hour after hour after hour,” Wolff said. “If I leave a bottle of seltzer next to me and I drink it for the next two hours, I’ve actually bathed my teeth in acid for two solid hours.”
Drink seltzer and sparkling water in short bursts to give saliva a chance to harden the tooth enamel again, and try drinking out of a straw, Wolff said. Counter to what you may assume, it's actually not a good idea to brush your teeth immediately after enjoying an acidic drink as it can further wear down already softened tooth enamel, according to the Mayo Clinic.
As with most food and drink, moderation with carbonated water seems to be key. Looking for an alternative? Try infusing your plain water with natural flavors such as fruits and veggies.