Most everyone knows the importance of proper hydration and water consumption, but is one form of water better than another? If you’ve found yourself wondering about the differences between still water, sparkling water, mineral water, and even flavored water, here’s your definitive guide.
Hydration 101: Why Do We Need Water and How Much Do We Need?
As a quick reminder, nearly every function of the human body relies on adequate hydration. All of your body’s cells, organs, and tissues use water to aid in processes like:
- Waste removal
- Brain function
- Mood and temperature regulation
- Joint, cardiovascular, circulatory, and immune support
Clearly, staying hydrated is non-negotiable.
While your hydration needs may vary based on your activity level, overall health, and the climate in which you live, you should shoot for the standard 8 glasses per day, or up to half of your body weight in ounces. Consult your doctor for recommendations specific to your health and circumstances.
Sparkling Water vs. Still Water
Now that you’ve been gently reminded how important water is to your health, let’s look at some of the options out there.
Many people simply cannot stomach drinking glass after glass of plain, still water. This is understandable because, let’s face it, plain water isn’t that exciting.
So what about sparkling water? Can you get the same hydration benefits from sparkling water as you do still water?
In a word, YES!
The only difference between our sparkling and still water is that sparkling water gets its “sparkle” (AKA fizz) from adding pressurized carbon dioxide gas to a still water source. And while some believe that sparkling water is bad for your teeth and bones courtesy of the carbonation, this has been proven untrue. So if you like a little zing with your H2O, you can feel good that your teeth won’t suffer at the hands (er, bubbles) of your sparkling sips.
(Caveat: this article refers to plain sparkling water. If you add flavorings, sweeteners, or citric acid to your sparkling water, those things may contribute to tooth decay.)
Mineral waters come from mineral springs and may contain elements like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, plus compounds like sulfur. Mineral waters are often naturally carbonated, though some brands add extra carbonation for more fizz.
Mineral waters tend to have differing taste profiles, which are influenced by where the water was sourced. If you’re a mineral water drinker, you likely have a favorite brand. It really doesn’t matter which brand most appeals to you, you can feel good knowing your mineral water is every bit as hydrating as plain, still water.
Store shelves have been inundated with flavored waters dressed up in fun, fancy, or alluring packaging. Even celebrities are getting in on the action, lending their names and voices to emerging brands.
When you’re tired of plain water, these more “exciting” (and conveniently packaged) waters can certainly call to you. And many brands make for good choices. Just be sure to watch out for added sugars, sweeteners, or flavor enhancers, which could add extra calories or sodium.
To save money, you can create your own flavored water at home. Simply fill a pitcher with filtered water and any of these natural choices for a boost of flavor — and maybe even some additional nutrients.
- Fresh or frozen berries
- Mint, basil, or even ginger
- Citrus slices like lime, lemon, or orange
Both still and sparkIing waters hydrate the same, so when you reach for either or these, you can rest easy knowing you’re helping to supply your body with the hydration it needs to function properly.
If you’re looking to hydrate during a workout or any type of exercise, consider going with still water, as the carbonation from sparkling water may cause discomfort when jostled around. You wouldn’t want to leave the gym looking more bloated than when you came in, right?
But for all the other times you need a drink, you can freely choose any type of water and know you’re getting the same amount of hydration across the board. Pick the one you like most, since you’re more likely to actually drink it. Your body—and your taste buds—will thank you.
Remember: Quality matters, no matter what type of water you drink. Treat your body to pure, natural water. Filtered tap water works, too.