Carbonated water is a healthier alternative to soda. Soda typically contains artificial dyes and high fructose corn syrup. Both of these ingredients can have adverse effects on your health. Can carbonated water also have negative effects on its consumer?

What Is Carbonated Water?

Carbonation is the process of adding carbon to a substance. In carbonated beverages, this form of carbon is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide molecules consist of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. This molecule’s nature doesn’t allow other molecules to easily bond to it. That means that when carbon dioxide is added in high amounts to a liquid, it only sticks to itself.

The carbon dioxide encapsulates and lingers in the liquid. Carbonated beverages are then sealed and chilled to protect the carbon dioxide inside. As the beverage is uncapped, the carbon dioxide begins to escape, making its way to the surface. You can observe this action by putting your carbonated water into a glass. You’ll see small bubbles rising to the surface. As they reach the surface and their bubble pops, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide escaping the liquid’s surface is why sodas and carbonated waters go flat after being opened.

To make carbonated water, carbon dioxide must be injected into the liquid at high speed, and the mixture should be sealed shortly after its inoculation. Manufacturers complete this process in a precise way and package up the bubbly stuff for you, or you can purchase an at-home soda maker.

Can it Cause Headaches?

Carbonated water has seen a recent surge in popularity. Many people are replacing their daily soda beverage with flavored carbonated water. This switch between the two is typically successful, but some people have reported headaches as a side effect of drinking carbonated water.

Headaches can happen to anyone at any time. The most common cause of headache not due to underlying disease is environmental factors. What we experience and what we ingest affects us greatly, and headaches are a telltale sign that our body isn’t loving what’s going on.

Anything Artificial

Commercially produced carbonated water beverages are jazzed up to make them more appealing for the consumer.

Artificial dyes are one of the many ways that carbonated water can be changed to make it more attractive. These colors can make you feel a certain way, or help you associate the intended flavor with the drinks. Most citrus drinks are colored to resemble the fruits they aim to taste like, and grape flavored beverages can be found in shades of purple.

There has long been a debate on whether artificial coloring is truly safe for consumption. There is a long list of coloring additives that were once thought to be safe, but are now banned by the USDA.

Even some of the food colorings that are approved are cause for concern. Three of the most common dyes used in food manufacturing have been found to be contaminated with benzidine and/or other carcinogens. Benzidine has been linked to bladder and pancreatic cancers. Some artificial dyes have also been linked to hyperactivity in children, and if they possess the power to create a neurological effect, they can definitely cause a headache.

Artificial sweeteners have been used to replace sugar in foods and beverages for decades. While artificial sweeteners such as aspartame can lower the calorie count of what you’re consuming, it can increase the likelihood of a headache.

Many migraine sufferers see aspartame as a trigger for their headaches. For these people who are very sensitive to their triggers, a splitting headache can be brought on by just one beverage containing aspartame. For those who have replaced their regular soda habit with diet soda or carbonated water containing aspartame, their high consumption of the sweetener will propel them toward many side effects such as migraine, irritable moods, and anxiety.

Carbonated water without any flavoring is quite boring and can turn most consumers off the drink. Even companies that claim to use natural flavorings still derive them from non-natural sources such as artificial flavoring agents. These artificial flavors are produced by a compound of chemicals that when combined, can produce the flavor of something they are not.

Essential oils are sometimes thought of as a natural flavoring source, but they contain a very little amount of their parent material. When added to carbonated beverages, they may produce some flavor, but lemon essential oil contains far less citrus than an actual lemon.

Other Ways Headaches Can Be Caused by Seltzer

Carbonated water is typically ingested in lieu of soda. However, if a person is a heavy consumer of soda, quitting it cold turkey could cause withdrawal symptoms. This withdrawal is usually due to caffeine withdrawal, but it can also be an effect of the regular and heavy consumption of sugar by a person.

The most common cause of caffeine withdrawal is headache. While caffeine is present in a lot of beverages and even some foods, it is an addictive substance. Caffeine is a stimulant that promotes energy and alertness. As its consumers ingest it regularly, their bodies become dependent on this stimulant. This is why your Aunt Carol has warned you, “Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.” Someone addicted to caffeine no longer possesses the ability to derive energy naturally and will not feel as awake without it.

Withdrawal from caffeine can also cause mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and even vomiting. If you want to kick your soda habit but rely heavily on the caffeine content of it, gradually wean yourself off of the drink. There are even some carbonated waters that contain caffeine.

When drinking carbonated beverages that contain caffeine, be mindful of it. Those who are sensitive to caffeine can experience headaches after ingesting it. Heart palpitations and irritability are also common side effects of overconsuming caffeine.

A common cause of the typical headache is dehydration. The human body is approximately 75% water. The water content of the body must be carefully balanced for its many systems to function appropriately. Dehydration occurs when more water leaves the body than enters it. Water can leave the body through our sweat glands or by urinating.

Carbonated water is just as hydrating as flat water, but their volumes are very different. Due to the trapped pockets of carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages, there is less water content per eight ounces of carbonated water than in eight ounces of flat water.

If someone is an avid drinker of flat water and begins to replace it with sparkling water, they may find that they feel “fuller” drinking carbonated water versus its flat friend. This fullness can quickly lead people to consume less water than they typically would.

This fullness is not desirable for anyone who is self-conscious about bloating, and they may consume less liquids overall because of it.

When exercising, carbonated water sounds like a fun alternative, but many people turn away from it at this time because the bubbles can make them feel like belching. As we workout, our body temperature increases, and we begin to sweat. If the only beverage on hand is carbonated water, one may neglect to hydrate during their workout, easily leading to dehydration.

While carbonated water is a healthier alternative to soda, it can cause headaches for a variety of reasons. If you suffer from migraines, are sensitive to additives, or are prone to dehydration, you should stick with plain, flat water.

Author

I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I've also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it's hard to find the time these days.

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