Should You Worry About How Acidic Your Sparkling Water Is?
Trending TikTok videos are claiming that sparkling water is unhealthy because it is more acidic than “flat” bottled drinking water. People are even going so far as to test the acidity of popular bubbly water brands to find out the pH value of the drinks.
While sparkling is slightly acidic because it’s infused with carbon dioxide to give it bubbles, that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. Here’s what experts say about how the pH of your drinking water affects your health.
Sparkling water is just plain water that’s had bubbles added to it (carbonation) using carbon dioxide under pressure.
Along with the bubble-free still water you can get from your tap or a bottle, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists sparkling water as a healthier drink choice than soda and other high-sugar carbonated beverages.
Does water’s pH affect your health?
The pH of our blood is like an acid-base balance gauge that keeps our body in stable equilibrium. It’s a critical feedback loop that is tightly regulated and managed by our lungs and kidneys.
A normal blood pH level is around 7.40. Certain diseases and health conditions can cause the blood to become too acidic (acidemia) or too alkaline (alkalemia). For example:
- Fluid loss (e.g., from vomiting and diarrhoea)
- Kidney problems (e.g., chronic kidney disease, kidney failure)
- Lung disease (e.g., asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, infection)
The pH of most bottled water is between 6.5-7.5.
Kelly A. Reynolds, PhD, the Director of Community, Environment, and Policy for the Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center (ESRAC) told Verywell that there is no scientific evidence that the pH of water has any bearing on our health.
“Our bodies are designed to handle a wide range of pH values in liquids,” she said. “Orange juice, for example, is acidic with a pH of around 3.5. Our stomach acids have a pH of around 2.0 which is important to maintain digestive health.”
Our bodies are designed to handle a wide range of pH values in liquids.
While the pH of water does not affect blood pH, a higher acidity level can suggest the presence of dangerous heavy metals in the water (like lead) which can be harmful.
“The pH of our water does matter if we are considering tap water which has been exposed to heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic,” Julie Shimko, a registered dietitian with Stanford Health Care told Verywell. “It is not the acidity of the water which is the concern, however—it is the exposure to heavy metals which can cause health complications.”
Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strict standards for testing and regulating how much of these metals can be in drinking water sources. Your town’s water district also has to regularly test to make sure the water supply is safe (and they’ll usually include the pH level of the water in the report). Where you could run into a problem is if your home has old pipes that could be leaching metals into your water.
Bottled water companies also have to test their water to make sure it’s safe. They have rules and regulations to follow, set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Some companies, like Poland Spring, make their water testing reports available to consumers right on their websites. If you’re curious, the pH of Poland Spring’s sparkling water is 4.8, and its regular bottled water is between 6.7–7.1, according to its 2021 water quality report.
Is sparkling water healthy?
Many people choose sparkling water as a healthier alternative to soda and other sugary drinks. It can feel “more exciting” than drinking plain water and may have some digestive health benefits like helping you feel full and easing constipation.
There are some downsides to sparkling water, though:
- Feeling bloated, gassy, and burpy
- Changes in tooth enamel (for sparkling waters that have added sugar)
- Drinking less water (e.g., because you feel too full)
Is alkaline water healthier?
Another water trend that’s been making the rounds on social media is alkaline water. The companies that make these beverages market alkaline water as the healthier choice, but experts have pushed back on those claims.
Alkaline water, as well as the alkaline diet, will not balance the pH of your blood or your body and is just a marketing scam.
“The human body does not ‘alkaline’ itself after drinking alkaline water as stated in the videos,” said Shimko. “Alkaline water, as well as the alkaline diet, will not balance the pH of your blood or your body and is just a marketing scam.”
Alkaline water does not affect your body’s acid-base balance. However, researchers are exploring some potential health benefits of alkaline water such as:
- Reducing acid reflux
- Easing digestive symptoms
- Improved sleep
- Minimising bone loss
Does it really matter which kind of water you drink?
You don’t have to worry about the acidity of your go-to can of bubbly water. As long as it doesn’t give you uncomfortable gas, isn’t adding sugar to your diet, and won’t get in the way of you drinking enough fluid daily to stay hydrated, sparkling water is fine.
“The most important thing to remember is that dehydration is bad for many bodily systems and that whatever source of water they consume, it’s important to drink an adequate amount of water to avoid becoming dehydrated,” said Reynolds. “Any clean source of water is safe to consume.”
Despite TikTok claims, sparkling water won’t affect the pH levels of your blood—and neither will trendy alkaline waters. If you prefer bubbly water to plain “flat” water, that’s fine. Just choose a beverage with no added sugars.
This story first appeared on www.verywellhealth.com
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