What Does Carbonation Do to Your Metabolism?

Carbonation itself has little effect on a healthy metabolism, but the company it keeps can be detrimental to your health.
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If your fondness for carbonated drinks gives you cause for concern, here's some good news: Carbonation, in and of itself, is unlikely to hurt you. Despite what you may have heard, it won't leach calcium from your bones, and it doesn't cause dehydration or weight gain -- at least, not directly. Still, moderation might be your best policy, especially if your favorite carbonated drinks are sugary or caffeinated ones.

Weight Gain

    Drinking pop as though it were water is linked to weight gain, obesity and a higher likelihood of Type 2 diabetes. But don't blame carbonation. Sugar's the real culprit here. A 2007 meta-analysis published in the "American Journal of Public Health" demonstrated a correlation between nondiet soda consumption and increased calorie intake. Not only do soda drinkers fail to adjust their diet to make room for the extra calories, but they even tend to eat more calories overall than people who don't drink soda. The study's authors speculate that this could be because drinking sweet soda raises people's expectation for sweetness in other foods as well.

Calcium Loss

    Carbonation by itself doesn't raise your risk of osteoporosis, but caffeinated colas are another story. A 2006 study published by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition showed "consistent robust associations" between cola intake and low bone mineral density in women. The study concluded that caffeine was a likely contributor to lower bone mineral density. But because researchers observed similar, if less drastic, low BMD results for decaffeinated cola, they realized caffeine couldn't take all the blame. They proposed that phosphoric acid was also involved, since they observed lower calcium-to-phosphorus ratios in cola drinkers than in nondrinkers. This only confirmed the study authors' suspicions, since phosphoric acid is already known to interfere with calcium absorption and contribute to calcium loss.

Gas Buildup

    One direct effect carbonation can have on your system is to increase gas buildup, which can in turn lead to increased bloating, burping and, embarrassingly enough, farting. MayoClinic.com specifically recommends avoiding all carbonated drinks, whether soft drinks, beer or sparkling water, to reduce belching.

Carbonation and Specific Conditions

    Avoid carbonated drinks when treating dehydration from diarrhea because those drinks can make the diarrhea worse. If you're having a tooth out, stay away from carbonated drinks during the first 24 hours following the surgery. Carbonated beverages can also irritate the bladder, so cutting them out of your diet can help relieve temporary urinary incontinence.

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