Are carbonated beverages bad for you?

I heard this the other day: “‘carbonated water has no ill effect on the body’s physiology. I should know, I am a chemist.”

HA! 

Denying that carbonated beverages have an ill affect on the body is like being a climate denier and I will tell you why. Chemist, are you listening? Because before I became an acupuncturist, I was a chemist too.

Fact #1: Carbon dioxide is an acid.

Remember acids and bases from chemistry class? Vinegar is an acid, bleach is a base and your body maintains a pretty neutral pH of around 7 (neither acid or base).

Fact #2:  A base (or negatively charged particle) is happiest when hanging out with or bonded to an acid.

Fact #3: CO2 plus H2O (water) forms a mild carbonic acid (H2CO3).

A certain percentage of the bubbles in your drink are going to convert into this mild acid making your water more acidic. Slight changes in pH levels can have dramatic effects to the human body as well. For example, a drop of 0.2 pH units can cause seizures, heart arrhythmia or even send a person into a coma. But don’t worry, to prevent sudden drops in pH, your blood is buffered with minerals like calcium carbonate that are able to bond with the acid and keep your blood in a healthy, neutral range.

Most people know that calcium plays a role in bone density. It also plays an essential role as neurotransmitter, (it helps your neurons function and send signals). In short, it’s really important for our bodies. When the blood calcium levels are low, your parathyroid gland is stimulated to release more calcium into the bloodstream. Where does this stored calcium come from? Your bones. Your body will continue to decrease your bone density to maintain blood calcium levels to perform normal physiological tasks.

Let me sum up by asking this question for you: does one carbonated soda ruin your health? No. It is all about quantity.

In small amounts (for example one soda every now and then or a daily bubble water) is not going to have an ill effect on your health, but I postulate that multiple carbonated beverages daily, in the long run is just not good for you unless you like the idea of osteoporosis.

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