What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Seltzer Every Day

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A trip to the grocery store used to include a restock of your favorite soda, but now you opt for seltzer (sparkling) water instead. You’ve made the healthful choice to skip the sugar and caffeine and found a way to do it without sacrificing those bubbles you love. But do all of those bubbles do a body good? Here’s what dietitians have to say.

What Is Seltzer Water?

Naturally carbonated mineral and “fizzy” waters have been around since the time of ancient Greece. Because the ancient Greeks believed this spring water held medicinal value, they not only drank it, but they bathed in it.

Many years later, in the 18th century, a European scientist stumbled upon a way to create fizzy water without a natural spring. He discovered that he could infuse carbon dioxide gas (CO2) into water, which created carbonic acid. This reaction gave the water its characteristic fizz.

Flash forward to today, and seltzer water is still created using this same process. Plain versions of seltzer contain nothing else besides the water and carbon dioxide gas, but flavored varieties can contain citric acid or fruit juices, as well as some form of sugar or alternative sweetener.

Now that we know what seltzer is, let’s take a look at what happens to your body when you drink it.

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4 Things That Happen When You Drink Seltzer Water

1. You May End up More Hydrated

“Drink more water!” is the universal decree you’ll hear from health professionals, as many of us don’t consume enough fluids to stay properly hydrated. But there’s only so much tap water we can drink before the monotony becomes too much. That’s where seltzer water can help.

“For people who don’t like still water and are self-proclaimed ‘soda addicts,’ seltzer can help people meet their fluid intake needs,” says Lauren Manaker, M.S., RDN, LD, CLEC, a Charleston-based registered dietitian.

Manaker says that seltzer can be a great way to fulfill that desire for carbonation without the added sugar. And that satisfying cold fizz makes water consumption fun, resulting in a winning situation when it comes to hydration.

2. It May Harm Tooth Enamel

We don’t spend much time thinking about the pH of our mouth, but if we did, we’d be in awe of the fact that it works constantly to keep a neutral pH of 7 most of the time. That neutral pH helps protect our teeth, specifically the enamel.

When foods and liquids are introduced, our saliva responds, working to neutralize anything acidic in an attempt to keep that neutral pH. Anything less than a pH of 4 can start to erode tooth enamel, per a 2022 study in the journal Biomimetics. Thanks to the formation of carbonic acid, many seltzers have a lower pH level than still water—usually between 3 and 5. The addition of citric acid in flavored seltzer contributes to this lower pH as well.

Because of this, Manaker recommends that anyone experiencing dental erosion limit their seltzer intake to help preserve their dental health. Or consider enjoying your bubbly water with food to help elicit the salivary response, which helps neutralize the acid.

Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, a Chicago-based registered dietitian and host of the Nourishing Notes podcast, suggests enjoying your seltzer through a straw. It’s a simple way to help bypass your teeth altogether.

3. You May Feel Full

Drinking all of that bubble-filled water can make you feel full. For healthy individuals, this can be a valuable tool for weight management, helping to curb hunger. However, Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, a Los Angeles-based dietitian and author of My Indian Table, says that for people with gastrointestinal diseases, such as IBS, seltzer water may cause bloating and gas, so it’s best to avoid it.

If you have issues with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may also want to limit your intake of seltzer water as the carbonation may exacerbate symptoms.

4. It May Help with Digestion

Water is a key player in digestion. If you don’t consume enough, things start to slow down, and you can end up feeling uncomfortable with constipation. Sparkling water doesn’t hold the magic key to cure constipation, but it can be a more enjoyable way for some people to ensure they’re getting enough water to keep things moving.

How to Creatively Enjoy Seltzer

Drinking seltzer water straight from the can or that you made in your soda maker is always delicious, but there are other ways to enjoy it!

Seltzer water can be used as a fun, fizzy finisher for zero-proof and regular cocktails. It can also be used in place of club soda in any of your favorite drink recipes. Try adding a splash to 100% fruit juice along with sliced, fresh fruit. Or add it to your next smoothie for a light, airy treat.

You can also swap the liquid in the batter of waffles and pancakes for seltzer water—which results in fluffy pancakes and crispy waffles.

The Bottom Line

Dietitians agree that seltzer water can be a helpful tool for hydration. It’s also a great alternative to high-calorie, sugar-loaded beverages. With that said, avoid seltzers with added sugar, since they essentially become soda.

While there are no specific recommendations on how much seltzer water is advisable to drink each day, listen to your body and use that as your guide. If you have GI issues or dental health concerns, limit your intake and consult your dietitian, healthcare practitioner or dentist for advice.

Enjoy seltzer water and keep balance in mind, says Shanta Retelny, by alternating still and sparkling water throughout the day.

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