Flavored fizzy water is on everybody's shopping list these days. Refreshing and calorie-free, it's an enticing replacement for plain old water. But there is a downside: fizzy drinks can cause — not help — gas and bloating.
The carbonation in club soda can cause some people to feel bloated and experience gas.
What Is Club Soda?
Club soda gets its fizz from carbon dioxide, which creates tiny, effervescent bubbles. Most people don't know this, but it's not the same thing as seltzer water or "soda water," which is a blanket term for any type of fizzy water. Club soda contains another ingredient besides water: sodium carbonate — the same mineral that makes up baking soda.
Some people use baking soda as a home remedy for indigestion, including gas and bloating. However, the amount of sodium bicarbonate in a serving of club soda is much less than that in a half teaspoon of baking soda, according to USDA data, which is the amount often recommended for indigestion. Evidence for its effectiveness is anecdotal, but even if it does work, there isn't likely enough in club soda to make much of a difference.
Club Soda, Gas and Bloating
There is stronger support for club soda's tendency to cause gas. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the bubbles in club soda can bubble up in your digestive tract. The American College of Gastroenterology reports that drinking carbonated beverages is a primary risk factor for belching, bloating and gas because they create excess gastric air.
Carbonated drinks are ranked up there with beans, broccoli and cabbage for inducing gassiness. People who have digestive conditions, such as IBS, are particularly vulnerable to these effects. Both the Mayo Clinic and the American College of Gastroenterology recommend avoiding carbonated drinks such as club soda.
If your club soda of choice is flavored, you might be drinking a double-whammy. Some types of flavoring and sweeteners are also known to cause gas and bloating. Artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose, are culprits, as well as sugar alcohols such as maltitol and sorbitol, according to an article published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility in April 2016.
More Reasons to Skip Soda
All carbonated drinks — club soda, seltzer, sugary soda — can cause dental erosion. Researchers of an in vitro study published in The Korean Journal of Orthodontics in January 2018 found that teeth submerged in carbonated water for 15 minutes three times a day showed signs of erosion. Four levels of carbonated water were used, as well as a control. All but the lowest level of carbonation had significant effects on tooth enamel compared to the control.
The other problem specific to club soda is its sodium content. One 8-ounce serving contains 55 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA. That's only a little more than 2 percent of the 2,300 milligrams the American Heart Association says is the maximum amount an adult should have in one day. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure and lead to heart disease and stroke.
One glass of club soda isn't going to break the bank, but if you get most of your daily hydration from club soda, the sodium can add up quickly. In fact, the AHA says that an ideal sodium limit for adults is actually 1,500 milligrams. Six or eight glasses of club soda per day would provide 22 to 30 percent of that amount.
- USDA: "Club Soda"
- USDA: "Baking Soda"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "5 Foods to Avoid if You Have IBS"
- American College of Gastroenterology: "Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence"
- Mayo Clinic: "Belching, Intestinal Gas and Bloating: Tips for Reducing Them"
- Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility: "Artificial Sweeteners: A Systematic Review and Primer for Gastroenterologists"
- The Korean Journal of Orthodontics: "Effect of Carbonated Water Manufactured by a Soda Carbonator on Etched or Sealed Enamel"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat per Day?"
- Harvard T.H. Chan: "Salt and Sodium"
- Martha Stewart: "Why Seltzer Is Better for You Than Club Soda"