Hydration is critical to maintaining a healthy and functional body. A hydrated body means there is an even and balanced level of water and other particles in the blood and cells so that they can work well and fuel our active lives. Our bodies are mostly made of water, and even a small loss of that water can lead to health consequences that can impact our quality of life. Replacing the water we lose each day in our excretions, from sweat to urine, means making a choice between a myriad of beverages.
The most common dilemma is whether to choose water or soda to drink. To know whether or not water is better at hydrating than sodas, it is important to understand how each is composed, absorbed, and used in the body. It is also critical to understand that one is a natural substance we have evolved to require, and the other is a recent addition to our dietary table and entirely man-made.
How Different Is Water And Soda?
Water and soda are very different substances, and while both are beverages we enjoy, only water offers health benefits without serious downsides. Water occurs naturally and is necessary for life. It is a simple molecule made up of two hydrogen and one oxygen atom, connected by a hydrogen bond. Water has no calories and does not contain any electrolytes, sugars, or caffeine.
Soda is a manufactured product that contains simple carbohydrates, which are long chains of repeating sugar molecules that are easily broken down and used by the body for energy. Unfortunately, most people already get enough energy from the food they eat, and the added energy source from sodas only becomes excess calories that are stored as fat. On top of that, sodas often contain high amounts of salt (sodium) and caffeine. While water is the main component of sodas, the carbonation in the soda is highly acidic, which can lead to damage to the teeth, esophagus, and other organs as the body works to neutralize the acidity.
Is Water Better Than Soda for Hydration?
Hydration is the state of proper fluid status in the body and cells. Being able to drink water is only one part of hydration. Water has to get where you need it, which is inside of cells and blood vessels, to work. Osmosis is the movement of water across a membrane (think a thin layer of molecules or cells). Water goes from a place of high concentration of water molecules to a place of low concentration along what is called a concentration gradient. You can see osmosis when you put a dry sponge on a wet puddle on the counter, and the water moves to be soaked up by the sponge. The water is going from where there is more of it on the counter to where there is less of it on the sponge. The same action causes water to move inside of the body.
When it comes to hydration, the ability to move water into cells and blood vessels depends on the concentrations inside those compartments. Dehydration is when there isn’t enough water in the cells or blood, which causes the particles in those spaces to become concentrated. This concentration creates an imbalance that draws water into the cell or blood vessel using osmosis. Without the imbalance, osmosis can’t happen.
Upon drinking a glass of water, it enters the digestive system, where it is absorbed through the tiny blood vessels in the gut via osmosis. If the concentration isn’t higher on the inside, then the water can’t move into the bloodstream and be used by cells. Soda contains a lot of sugar, caffeine, and sodium, all of which can increase the concentration of particles on the wrong side of the membranes, keeping water from being easily absorbed.
All of this is a complicated way of saying that water itself is more easily absorbed by the body than soda. This lets water do its job of hydration quickly and efficiently, as our bodies are designed to do. Sodas simply don’t factor into the natural equation of hydration.
Does Soda Have Any Health Benefits?
While sugary sodas are undoubtedly bad for your health due to the calories, there is some small benefit to drinking them for people with nausea. In some instances, cola can be useful for women who are dealing with morning sickness, and ginger ale for those with stomach bugs that are causing vomiting. However, in both cases, the benefit comes from something in the specific sodas consumed, not from it being in a soda. The carbonation in sodas can calm an upset stomach, but it can also lead to long-term stomach damage when used frequently, so the benefit isn’t really worth the consequences.
Some people may feel like they are getting hydrated after they drink a soda, but it is often due to the perceived boost they get from caffeine and carbohydrates in the soda. Sodas are mostly water, and the body does use that water as best it can to hydrate. Unfortunately, it has to sort through the other stuff in sodas to make that happen. The sugars are an immediate energy source that can give a person a jolt of energy but often leads to a big letdown as the simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly and blood sugar drops. Caffeine in sodas can also make a person feel boosted and more energetic, but like the sugars, it doesn’t last long and often leads to a drop in energy later. These are called rebound effects and occur when you ingest something in a high amount that causes the body to respond to lower that response; only the amount wears off before the response does, leading to that effect being even worse than before. Think of it like a teeter-totter than overcorrects. Ideally, your body prefers to stay even and not go rapidly up and down, but sodas do just that, sending the system into a cycle of responses that are never balanced.
Why Should You Drink Water Instead of Soda?
The benefits of water over soda are vast and, honestly, pretty obvious. Water is a far superior option and provides a slew of advantages to your overall health and wellness, whereas soda provides no benefits aside from tasting good. Here are the top reasons to drink water instead of soda:
- Stay hydrated
- Lose or Maintain Body Weight
- Keep joints lubricated
- Have more moist and healthy skin
- Improve energy levels
- Maintain dental health
Make the Right Hydration Choice with Fresh, Spring Water
When you’re ready to make the right choice and consume water rather than soda, get in touch with Lipsey. You can have fresh spring water delivered right to the door of your home or office so that it’s always easily accessible. Being a few steps away from delicious, healthy water all day long is sure to help you achieve your health goals and consume an appropriate amount of water for optimal wellness.