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Experts Explain Why Sparkling Water is NOT a Substitute for Regular Water

Photograph of a stack of 12-can packs of the La Croix Sparkling Water in Lafayette, California
Source: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Sparkling water isn’t new, but in recent years, it has become far more popular than ever before. Companies such as LaCroix and Spindrift, which make plain and flavored carbonated waters, have made a fortune on the population’s recent obsession with the supposedly healthy alternative to soda.

However, there have since been rumors that sparkling water isn’t nearly as healthy as flat water. And thanks to research from various scientists, the verdict is in: Sparkling water is not a substitute for regular water. 

Human beings need water to live, in fact, doctors recommend at least 3 liters of water a day for those who want to stay healthy. Adequate water intake ensures that the body stays hydrated and functions properly. And while most people have not experienced clinical dehydration, which can lead to brain damage and even death, the majority have experienced the most subtle feelings of dehydration such as headaches, muscle aches, and brain fog. 

So the first question on everyone’s mind when sparkling water became wildly popular was whether or not it would offer the same hydration as regular water. As people were often replacing a glass of flat water with a can of carbonated goodness, doctors started to wonder if they were about to see an influx in dehydration cases. However, thanks to a study conducted in 2016 by Ronald Maughan, a professor at the St. Andrews University School of Medicine, they now know that is not the case. 

Maughan reported that within the study, they realized that “Most sparkling water is only lightly carbonated, and much of the CO2 disappears on pouring drinks and on letting them stand.” Therefore, in regards to hydration, drinking a can of LaCroix is the same as drinking a can of flat water. 

And according to Jen Baum, a nutritionist, carbonated water is absolutely a healthy choice for those who typically opt for soda instead or simply need a break from regular water. She explained, “Sparkling water can also just be a nice change from regular water too. Most of us enjoy variety, and I think that applies to the beverages we drink.

So far, it may seem like sparkling water can replace regular drinking water, but unfortunately for Spindrift fans, that’s not actually the case. Yes, it does hydrate like water, and no, it doesn’t have the chemical or sugar additives that juice and soda do, but that doesn’t mean it comes with no health concerns. 

Essentially, when drinking sparkling water, like any other carbonated beverage, a reaction occurs in the mouth in which carbon dioxide is turned into carbonic acid. And this acid slowly erodes the enamel on teeth. Dentist Dr. Cerisa Moncayo explained, “When tooth enamel is compromised, it leads to a host of dental issues, like tooth decay (cavities), weakened teeth, or sensitivity.”

So while carbonated or sparkling water is hydrating you like water, the bubbles are also permanently eroding your teeth. Therefore, drinking three liters of sparkling water instead of three liters of flat water every day is not an option. Instead, it’s better to enjoy sparkling water like a treat, not as a replacement for water.


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