What’s the Word on Seltzer?

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How much fizz is too much fizz?

Since everyone figured out in the early 2010s that soda is kind of terrible for you, seltzer has become the fizzy drink of choice for many. Seltzer is certainly more natural than most commercial sodas, containing less wacky chemicals and colorings, and even offers a few genuine health benefits. However, there’s a little more to the story that you may not know about.

Let’s start with the positives. Seltzer is, at its core, just water infused with carbon dioxide to make it fizzy. As we’ve repeatedly established, you can never drink enough water. More water consumption will not only keep you more hydrated throughout the day, it can help you feel fuller if you drink it with a meal. Feeling fuller means feeling less hungry, feeling less hungry means eating less and gaining less weight. Fun times. Medical studies have also shown that drinking seltzer can be helpful for those who suffer from chronic constipation. Carbonated water can help get your insides flowing a little more cleanly, and is especially helpful for those who are bed-ridden.

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So there’s the positives, and they’re pretty good ones. What are the negatives? Well, there’s only one, but it’s a potentially big one: acidity. Unflavored seltzer is slightly more acidic than regular tap water. A glass or two a day won’t do anything, but chugging down a large quantity of the stuff could potentially damage your teeth. This risk increases when you drink flavored seltzers, which often contain citric acid, a natural chemical present in citrus fruits added for flavor. Some studies have shown that citric acid can gradually strip away the enamel from your teeth, which increases your risk of cavities and gum disease. Also, while most seltzers don’t add any sugar, some use alternative sweeteners like erythritol sugar alcohol. Some people can have bad reactions to erythritol akin to taking powerful laxatives (learned that one the hard way).

In terms of beverages to enjoy with lunch or dinner, seltzer is a perfectly fine choice, and a much better one than most soft drinks. Just remember to keep up your intake of regular water; just because seltzer is made of water doesn’t mean it can replace it entirely.