Can Drinking Carbonated Soft Drinks Reduce Digestive Disorders?

Claim

A study published in 2002 reported that those who drank carbonated water/cold drinks after eating a heavy meal had less dyspepsia (digestive disorders) and constipation.

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Explanation

A video posted on the Instagram page ‘theathleticindian’ claiming that drinking carbonated soft drinks can reduce indigestion is going viral on social media.

In the video, “After eating a heavy meal, is it good to drink carbonated drinks for digestion? In a 2002 study, 21 people were divided into two groups, one group was given tap water and the other was given carbonated water. It also stated that those who drank carbonated water or cold drinks had less dyspepsia (digestive disorders) and constipation.

Although it improves digestion, the sugar in it can lead to weight gain. Not only that but having these on your teeth all night can also make your teeth decay. So as long as you drink it in moderation, cool drinks will boost your digestion.” This post is shared with a hashtag ‘soft drinks’.

 

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A post shared by Asveth Sreiram (@theathleticindian)

What’s the truth?

After examining the information that is being spread, it was found that a medical research paper titled “Effects of carbonated water on functional dyspepsia and constipation” was published in September 2022 as mentioned in the video.

So we, from YouTurn spoke to Praveen, a General Practitioner, to know about this medical research article and to know the truth of the news that is spreading. Responding to us, he said, “This is a study published in 2002. This was a small study with only 21 people. So it cannot be generalized to all people because the sample size taken for this study is minimal.

Similarly, this research paper only mentions carbonated water. Carbonated drinks with added sugar such as Coke, Pepsi, or soft drinks were not mentioned anywhere in the study. However, the viral video claims that drinking carbonated cold drinks after heavy meals can reduce digestive disorders and constipation. This is false news.

The study was funded by CoGeDi International SpA, a carbonated water company. So it cannot be said that this study is 100 percent unbiased.”

He also added, “This study is about functional dyspepsia. Here all dyspepsia diseases are not only functional dyspepsia disease. Most dyspepsia diseases are organic dyspepsia. These are often caused by lifestyle changes and medication.”

We also spoke from YouTurn to Dr. Devi, a genetics researcher. Speaking then, she said in a research paper titled “Carbonated beverages and gastrointestinal system: Between myth and reality”, that most of the CO₂ in a carbonated drink does not reach the stomach. They are released when the can or bottle is opened. Small amounts are absorbed through the gastrointestinal system, and a study in Iceland found that drinking carbonated water and beverages caused tooth erosion. Even non-carbonated drinks can cause tooth decay.

She further said, “the chemical effect related to carbon dioxide determines the increase of hydrochloric acid in the intestine. Hence it is said to affect the digestive process. These studies, showed that symptoms related to gastric distress appear only with intakes of carbonated fluid greater than than 300 ml. On the other hand, a slight increase in hydrochloric acid, which could influence positively the digestive process or worsen an acid-related disease. Additional studies are needed to clarify these aspects.”

This study shows that there is no indication that drinking carbonated water can cure digestive disorders, and further studies are needed to clarify this.

Conclusion:

In our research, the viral message that drinking carbonated soft drinks after a heavy meal can reduce indigestion and constipation is wrong.

Nowhere in the study mentioned in the video are carbonated soft drinks with added sugar such as Coke, Pepsi, or soft drinks mentioned. And this was a small study that tested only 21 people. To elucidate this further, more research is required.

 

Links:

Carbonated beverages and gastrointestinal system: Between myth and reality

Effects of carbonated water on functional dyspepsia and constipation

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Indu Meenakshi

Indu Meenakshi is a former Microbiologist-turned-journalist, works as a Sub-Editor at YouTurn. She additionally holds Master’s in Management and English Literature. As a fact-checker, her job entails actively dispelling false information found online, exposing fake news, and raising public awareness.
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