Ten years later there is still disagreement over how diet affects bone health. Studies on this are few and far between. This man was described as “holding the drink in the mouth for several seconds and tasting before swallowing”. In a small but double-blinded randomised trial, patients with frequent dyspepsia or constipation were assigned to drink either still or sparkling water for 15 days. Both conditions improved in the people drinking sparkling water and showed no improvement in those drinking tap water. Now some of their offspring are taking part in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study which involves extensive testing every four years by researchers from Tufts University in Boston. The eroding effects of sweet fizzy drinks add up over time (Credit: Getty Images). But a review of this practice in children with acute gastroenteritis found there’s little evidence that it works and that compared with rehydration powders – specifically constituted to contain replacement salts and sugars in the right proportions – such drinks contain far lower levels of sodium and potassium than you’d find in rehydration drinks. They found that the longer a drink stayed in the mouth, the more noticeable the drop in pH in that person’s mouth. Is it hydrating? This website is produced by BBC Global News, a commercial company owned by the BBC (and just the BBC). The BBC is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site. In other words, some fizzy drinks can damage the hardness of the enamel. Read about our approach to external linking. But in 2001, the Birmingham team examined seven different brands of mineral water, again pouring them over extracted teeth to see what happened. Non fruit-based carbonated drinks such as cola came out as the most acidic (with diet versions doing slightly better), followed by fruit-based fizzy drinks, fruit juice and then coffee. No money from the licence fee was used to create this website. They found that the women (but not men) who drank cola-flavoured fizzy drinks three times a week had hip bones with a lower average bone mineral density. They looked in detail at the different types of drink consumed by more 2,500 taking part in the study. Surely any acid, even a weak one, is going to erode the enamel on our teeth? Carbonated water is a refreshing beverage and good alternative to sugary soft drinks. The BBC is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. In other words, the more acidic the mouth becomes. Some argue that this isn’t very like real life because we don’t keep a drink in our mouth for that length of time. UK researchers tested how hydrating 13 different drinks were (based on urine output) and found that sparkling water was just as hydrating as plain water. But when it came to the erosive potential of that weak acid on the teeth, the effect was 100-times less than that of some other kinds of fizzy drinks. The combination of a high sugar content coupled with acidity caused by the carbonisation that makes it fizzy, isn’t good. If you gulp it down it can of course give you hiccups or indigestion. Of course the mouth itself is a different environment from a jar, but so far the evidence for harm doesn’t seem to be very strong. But if you drink through a straw the drink goes straight to the back of your mouth and there’s less opportunity for damage. Quite the reverse, it appears. But how about teeth? Let’s start with the stomach. Barry Owens from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, Memphis, USA conducted a study back in 2007 comparing different fizzy drinks. By taking slices of enamel and immersing them in different soft drinks for six, 24 and 48 hours, Poonam Jain at Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine demonstrated that the enamel does begin to erode. We all know by now that drinking sweet, fizzy drinks all day isn’t a good idea. If you drink a lot of sparkling water you might find you feel bloated, but researchers in Japan have found that this side-effect could be put to good use. Sparkling water typically doesn’t contain any sweetener, so if sparkling water satisfies your cravings for something fizzy and lets you skip soda, you’re much better off. If you drink a lot of sparkling water you might find you feel bloated, but researchers in Japan have found that this side-effect could be put to good use. They found sparkling waters had a pH of between 5 and 6 (so not as acidic as some cola drinks which can be as high as 2.5), compared with still water which was neutral at 7. So one alternative is to drink water. “Still or sparkling?” they say to you in restaurants. Other carbonated drinks made no difference. Lemon and lime, and grapefruit were the most acidic flavours, probably because they use citric acid to give the nice taste. The authors hypothesise that the effect is probably down to caffeine and to the actions of phosphoric acid (not found in sparkling water) that are not yet well understood. So if you want a change from plain old water, then although it’s mildly acidic, so far there isn’t strong evidence to suggest that it’s harmful to your bones, your stomach or your teeth. But if you want to play safe and keep it away from your teeth, when you answer the question “still or sparkling”, perhaps you should also ask for a straw. Anyone who has tried leaving coins in a glass of cola overnight knows that they come up shiny and clean. So as far as bones and stomachs go, so far drinking sparkling water seems to be fine. The money we make from it is re-invested to help fund the BBC’s international journalism. In 2006, the team examined the relationship between bone density and fizzy drinks. If you notice that any type of sparkling water, including sparkling mineral water, increases or brings on any unwanted symptoms, discontinue drinking sparkling water.

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