Water is the most essential nutrient, but what else can you drink when you need a change? Seltzer can be a great alternative, as long as you check the product label first.
Pressurized carbon dioxide is added to water to create seltzer. Without added sugar, calories, colors, or alternative sweeteners plain seltzer is a healthy choice.
Carbonation does not lead to dental erosion, but flavoring seltzer with citric acid or phosphoric acid can change the acidity level and damage enamel. Water is neutral and has a pH around 7. When pH becomes too acidic and drops below 4 dental erosion can occur. Adding your own sliced lemon, lime, cucumber, mint, basil, etc. helps to add flavor in less acidic forms than bottled seltzer flavored with citric acid.
Soda, juice, and sports drinks have surprisingly high acidity levels that can damage enamel. For example apple juice has a pH of 3.3-4.0 and Coca-Cola has a pH of 2.4. Colas have also been associated with low bone mineral density, but other carbonated beverages have not show the same association.
Club soda is not the same as seltzer and those drinking it should use caution. Club soda contains sodium to mimic the taste of mineral water. Too much sodium can increase blood pressure. High sodium diets have also been associated with higher risk of stomach cancer.
Bottled seltzer can also lack fluoride, found in fluoridated tap water, which could impact dental health as well. SodaSteam and other in-home sparkling water makers can help retain fluoride.
Plain seltzer is a great hydrator and a great alternative to water. Read food labels carefully to avoid added ingredients such as citric acid or phosphoric acid. And if you drink sparkling water a lot consider an in-home maker to get more fluoride in your beverage.