Confusion over Carbonation: Get the Truth about Fizzy Drinks
Drinking soda and other carbonated beverages (think: beer, champagne) can take a toll on your tummy and your teeth, but only if you overdo it.
When research statistics showed that American teenage girls were short on calcium, scientists looked at their eating habits and found out (surprise!) that teens drink a lot of soda and other carbonated beverages and not enough calcium-rich milk. In usual research fashion, they looked for a connection between the carbonation and bone health, and found that physically active girls who regularly drank carbonated beverages were at higher risk of having bone fractures than those who didn't drink soda pop.
Phosphorous, in the form of phosphoric acid, puts the fizz in seltzer and sodas, so when these researchers began to explore the potential negative effects of drinking carbonated beverages, phosphorous came under scrutiny. Turns out, there are negative effects linked to drinking carbonated beverages, but they are due to the high sugar content and the fact that teens and young adults drink soda when they could be drinking milk. That's why soda pop is indirectly linked to low calcium levels and higher risk of fractures, and directly linked to the obesity problem in America. But as research continued, scientists found no ill effects to bones that were directly linked to phosphorous or the carbonation process.
Still, your body strives to maintain a balance of phosphorus and calcium, and you need to consume enough of each of these minerals in your diet to maintain that balance. If you don't drink milk, it is important to include other good sources of calcium in your diet. Dairy products such as low-fat yogurts and cheese are rich in calcium. If you don't include any dairy products in your diet, speak with your family doctor about taking supplements.
While no long-term health effects of drinking carbonated beverages have ever been documented, some people might do well to avoid drinking too many bubbly beverages. Phosphoric acid changes the pH in your mouth, making it a more acidic environment that, according to the American Dental Association, can erode tooth enamel and lead to an increase in decay. A study published in a 2004 issue of the professional journal General Dentistry found no difference between the effects of diet and regular carbonated beverages on teeth and suggested that additives in soft drinks other than acids may also contribute to the wearing away of tooth enamel. In this study, cola drinks and root beer were found to be less destructive to tooth enamel than other types of soda pop, and canned iced teas were found to be even more destructive than sodas.
Carbonation traps gas in a beverage, and that gas is released when you drink it. If you are having gastrointestinal troubles and want to avoid burping, bloating and excess gas, stay clear of carbonated drinks until you feel better. Ditto for anyone with gastric reflux.
And if you're out on the town and trying to keep your blood alcohol levels down, avoid drinks made with carbonated mixers or shots with soda on the side. The pressure in your stomach from the release of carbonation forces alcohol to move more quickly through the lining of your digestive tract and into your bloodstream. That's one of the reasons why beer, which is also a carbonated beverage, can be as intoxicating as hard liquor, in spite of its lower alcohol content.
Joint Report of the American Dental Association Council on Access, prevention and Interprofessional Relations and Council on Scientific Affairs to the House of Delegates.
Princeton University Health Services. "Alcohol." 27 Oct 2010. Web. 28 Dec 2010.
Von Fraunhofer, JA and Rogers, MM. "Dissolutionof Dental Enamel in Soft Drinks." General Dentistry. 2004 July-Aug. Web. 28 Dec 2010.
Wyshak, G. "Teenage Girls, Carbonated Beverage Consumption, Bone Fractures." Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2000;154:610-613. Web. 28 Dec 2010.
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