I Cannot Believe Seltzer is Bad for Us

When I was growing up, there were 2L bottles of Pepsi in the house every payday, so every two weeks we binged and splurged on bad stuff. There were also Doritos while they lasted. We would consume all this junk while watching Little House on the Prairie reruns at 5pm on channel 11 — which we could do because we had no after school activities. When I first become a mom, I would look back on this time with disgust and wonder how my mother could have ever thought this was ok. Seventeen years later, I look back on this time with envy, and wonder how nice it would be to not worry about every single little thing our kids consume.

Because I am a mom of this generation, I don’t keep soda in the house, and a few years ago, noticing how much my kids enjoyed seltzer, I started stocking the fridge with it. Flavored, bubbly water … what could be bad about that? They bring a can to school for lunch, and I’ve been feeling pretty good that it isn’t a juice box or a soda, and the can is recyclable. Then, both my husband and a friend said they heard seltzer was bad for you. Holy moly … is there nothing these kids can drink without me feeling guilty? Even the water in my town frightens me, and I feel badly about our carbon footprint from all the plastic Poland Spring bottles. How did simple hydration become a challenge. The struggle is real. Since dehydration isn’t a viable option, I looked into just how bad seltzer is for us and why all this shade is being thrown at the bubbles.

The first concern is this: Is the acid that is in the carbonation bad for our teeth and our bones? The short answer is No. For the longer answer, read on.

The bubbles convert to carbonic acid, and acid in general can damage your teeth. Carbonic acid is a weak acid and according to the American Dental Association and the studies they reviewed, does not damage your teeth any more than regular water. Other sources, who are probably just trying to give us one more thing to worry about, say unless you are drinking it in very large quantities or using it as a mouthwash, you are probably fine. Seltzers with citrus flavors tend to be more acidic, so if you are concerned, drink these in one sitting rather than sipping slowly throughout the day. This limits the exposure of the teeth to the acid, but even more acidic seltzers are far better for your teeth than soda and other sugary drinks.

The second concern is this: The acid in seltzer is bad for our bones. Studies have been conducted and while it is a fact, cola is bad for your bones and can cause osteoporosis, there is no evidence to show seltzer has the same effect. In fact, the evidence so far shows seltzer has no effect on our bones at all.

Bottom line: Of course, read the labels to make sure you know what you are getting, but it is settled for me. I will continue to keep bubbly waters, as we fondly call them, in the fridge. I am sick of “can’t and shouldn’t haves.” As a bonus, while you should still drink flat water, seltzers are as hydrating as water. As a warning, if the gas bothers your stomach, or if you are about to give a presentation, or if you have IBS, you may want to avoid carbonated beverages altogether.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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