Is Seltzer Water a Healthy Drink Option for Cancer Patients?

August 13, 2018

Adequate hydration is an important aspect of health for everyone, especially for those undergoing cancer treatment. Some patients can be concerned about whether certain fluids, such as seltzer water and other carbonated waters, count towards their hydration goals. Here, Mae Reilly, MS, RD, LDN, CNCS, a nutrition specialist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, answers some questions about seltzer water, which has boomed in popularity in recent years.

Is seltzer water a good hydration option for cancer patients?

Seltzer water can be a good option for those who are looking for a more exciting and flavorful alternative to plain water. Unlike sodas and juices, seltzer water provides flavor without the added sugar and calories  other beverages, such as sodas and juice, contain.

What is the difference between seltzer water, tonic water, and club soda?

They are different types of carbonated drinks that vary in processing methods and additives. For example, club soda and tonic water are carbonated waters that contain added minerals, including sodium. Tonic water also contains a compound called quinine which gives it a bitter taste and is why it often contains added sugar. Seltzer water is carbonated water that does not contain added minerals or sugar. Check the labels to see which additives are in your beverage of choice.

Carbonated water.

Does the carbonation in seltzer water impact bone health?

There is no evidence to support the belief that seltzer water has a negative impact on bone health. Some research has found that cola was associated with lower bone density in women, but not other carbonated drinks like seltzer.  If consuming carbonated waters is reducing your intake of calcium rich beverages like milk, make sure you are getting enough calcium from other sources in your diet.

Does seltzer water impact oral health?

While there is some evidence that the acidity of sodas can have a negative impact on teeth, there is no evidence that this is the case with seltzer water, which tend to be  less acidic than soda. Some patients may experience mouth sores as a side effect of cancer treatment and carbonated beverages, including seltzer, may irritate open sores.

Will seltzer water affect my hunger levels?

For some, the carbonation in seltzer water can contribute  to early satiety, or feeling full quickly. It may also exacerbate GI symptoms such as gas and bloating. If you cannot tolerate carbonated beverages, infused water may be a good option. Fill a pitcher with water and add sliced fruit such as lemon, oranges, melon, or berries. You can also use sliced cucumbers or fresh herbs, such as mint or basil.

Learn more about nutrition from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute