Carbonation – Is it Harmful to the Body?

One of my favorite sodas is Rootbeer.  As a runner/athlete, and someone concerned about health, I often hear people argue about the negative effects of carbonation.  Some say you shouldn’t drink carbonation because it is bad for you, but don’t really know how, or if that is really true.  Others say it rots your bones.  And still others find no problem with it at all.  There seems to be a constant battle over the idea that carbonation is harmful to one’s health.

Hopefully, after reading this, the battle will be over…at least in your mind.  The truth is, one has to separate actual carbonation from the drink it is in.  What do I mean by that? Well, there are two main types of carbonated beverages I’ll touch on, carbonated water and soda.

According to Roberta Anding, director of sports nutrition at the Texas Medical Center, and dietitian for the Houston Texans football team, carbonated water isn’t necessarily any better or worse for you, nutritionally, than still water. Carbonated water contains the same amount of minerals as still water, and contrary to popular belief, may not contain more sodium.  But the real question still is the carbonation.  Before I get to that, let me touch on soda.

Soda can taste great, which is why we love it.  Americans consume 13.15 billion gallons of carbonated drinks each year (Dr. McCay, Naval Medical Research Institute, 1997).  Soda doesn’t come with the best reputation.  Coca Cola, in particular, is used in science experiments by kids every year to show the negative effects of soda.  What many don’t understand however, is that it isn’t necessarily the carbonation in the soda that is bad for you…it is the high amount of sugar.

Monica Reinagel, a board certified nutritionist shares that, although many people associate soda to lower bone mineral density, it actually has nothing to do with the carbonation (  Researchers carried out an experiment in which they had two groups of women.  One group drank a liter of still water each day for eight weeks.  The other group drank a liter of carbonated water each day for eight weeks.  At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers could find no difference in bone turnover between the two groups.

So what is it? The reason for why cola and soda is associated with bone loss, really may not have anything to do with the soda itself, but rather the fact that those drinking larger amounts of soda are typically consuming less calcium.  The other reason soda gets a bad rap, is simply because of the high volume of sugar in soda.  Which is fair.

So is the carbonation bad for you?  Not really. Is soda bad for you, in high volumes, yes.  Does this mean you can go out and buy soda again?  Sure, but remember that too much soda is unhealthy, not because of the carbonation, but because of the other ingredients, particularly the large amounts of sugar, in the soda.

If you are already drinking lots of soda, consider cutting back on your consumption and drink more water.  Remember, things in moderation are okay, but we need to make sure that we are working to maintain a good, healthy lifestyle.

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