Sparkling Water – Good or Bad?

Sparkling water is not the healthy alternative many believe it to be.


Sparkling water is not the healthy alternative many believe it to be.

“Sparkling or still?”

If you opt for sparkling, you could be doing damage to your teeth.

Dr Rob Beaglehole, the spokesman for the New Zealand Dental Association, said the carbonation in sparkling water causes it to become acidic, which can cause the erosion of tooth enamel.

He has seen sparkling water fans who don’t drink other fizzy drinks come to the dentist with heavily worn teeth.

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Sparkling water has a pH level of about 5 and anything under 5.5 will start to dissolve your teeth, he said.

It’s more bad news for fans of citrus flavoured sparkling waters, as these also contain high levels of acids.

The bubbles in sparkling water and other fizzy drinks break down the outer layer of teeth, making them more susceptible to pain and sensitivity. When enamel erodes there is also less defence against decay.

Some district health boards are even banning the sale of sparkling water in their hospitals, including the Nelson-Marlborough and Northland Districts.

However, the Dental Association does accept that sparkling water is the “lesser of two evils,” in comparison to other fizzy drinks.

“Coca-cola has 16 teaspoons of sugar per 600ml, sparkling water has zero,” Beaglehole said. He said that while it may be “way healthier for you” than Coke or sweetened juices, it isn’t the ideal option.

Founder and spokesperson for health advocacy group FIZZ, Dr Gerhard Sundborn, agreed. He said moving from full sugar fizzy drinks to sparkling water is a “step in the right direction,” but that plain water is best.

“We encourage people stick to plain water or unflavoured milks, but if they’re drinking sparkling water and not soft drinks it’s an incremental step toward just drinking plain water.”

Obtaining all of the nutrients you need

Does it ever cross your mind that you may not be obtaining all of the nutrients you need for outstanding health and energy from your food?

Whether that is due to too many poor food choices, decreasing nutrient levels in the soil – so therefore in our food – or because of digestive system problems or age, getting enough nutrients through diet is becoming more of a challenge for people these days.

It is important to make as many mouthfuls as possible count in supplying your body with the essential substances it needs each day – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants – for example.

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One way to do this is by choosing more nutrient-dense foods, which provide more nutritional bang for your buck. Rather than focusing on what to avoid, shift your focus to increasing the nutrient density of your meals, and as a result, some of the less-nourishing things often tend to fall away. Here are eight ways you can increase the nutrient density of your diet.


With the increase in special occasions around Christmas time and the often not so nourishing food options, juicing veges or making smoothies is a wonderful way to amp up your nutrition when you’re in charge. Incorporate some organic leafy greens for an extra boost and some nourishing whole food fats such as avocado, nuts or seeds and you have an easy but nourishing snack.


One of the goals with a nutrient dense diet is to increase your vegetable intake to at least 5-7 servings daily. Adding a vegetable snack will certainly bring you much closer to this target.Try carrot sticks with hummus, cherry tomatoes with almond butter, or simply a platter of assorted colourful raw veges such as cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, and carrots when you need a crunchy snack.


Bread, pasta, crackers, potato chips are just some examples of foods that many use to “fill” up. They take up a significant proportion of dietary energy but yet don’t give much back nutritionally, particularly from a micronutrient perspective. Instead swap these out for more vegetables such as broccoli or leafy greens or starchy vegetable options such as kumara, pumpkin, carrots, or beetroot. That way you will still get that feeling of fullness the other carbohydrate options offer, but you’re also increasing the phytochemical, vitamin and mineral density of your meal.


Sprinkle mineral-rich nuts or seeds such as chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, cashew, sunflower or pumpkin seeds. They’re easily added to salads, main meals or even sprinkled on top or your breakfast porridge or eggs. Keep a blend on hand in a glass jar so you can easily incorporate them.


Incorporate more vegetables by changing the way you plate your meals, build the meal around the vegetables as opposed to the carbohydrate or protein options. Aim for around half your plate to be filled up with vegetable content. If this makes you panic, start by aiming for a quarter of the plate. Options like a simple herby slaw as a side as well as steamed or stir-fried vegetables are a great way to boost the vegetable content of your meal.


Breakfasts provide another opportunity for nourishment yet far too often we can rely on not so nourishing options such as toast or cereal! Start your day off right with a nutrient boost by adding in a green smoothie, adding leafy greens and avocado to your typical poached eggs and toast, or by making a vegetable packed frittata.


In today’s world many people struggle with blood glucose regulation, ranging from hypoglycemia to insulin resistance to type-2 diabetes. One of the best ways to maintain stable blood glucose levels is to eat protein with each meal. Depending on your dietary preference this can be fish, meat, poultry and eggs, or vegetarian/vegan sources such as beans or lentils, nuts and seeds.


When it comes to nutrient density the more colour you can incorporate the better. For example the beautiful bright purple in purple cabbage comes from anthocyanins whereas the bright red pigment in tomato comes from lycopene – each have their own unique health properties. Some of the most colourful foods have very high levels of antioxidants for example, turmeric, pomegranate, beetroot, spinach, kales and kumara to name a few.

Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and speaker. The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional. Visit

All I want to do is eat, nap and Netflix

After I bring myself to work out, all I want to do is eat, nap and Netflix.

Because I worked my behind off, I’ll usually go for an all-in meal of all my favourite fatty foods. Naturally, this is not healthy (or helpful) behaviour. To find out exactly what I could do – and what I should absolutely stay away from – I tapped a few fitness and health experts for their thoughts on the subject.

You’ll find all the drinks you should stay away from, the foods you definitely shouldn’t eat, and a few common mistakes you’re probably making along the way.


“After an intense workout, it’s extremely important to give yourself time to cool down before eating, says Leila Fazel, co-founder of Aerospace. “A gruelling workout will leave your body stressed and, subsequently, your brain will think you’re more ravenous than you actually are. That can end in unnecessary bingeing.” Instead, while your body is still revving, give yourself a breather before eating.


“People tend to go overboard after a workout, fuelling up with sugary drinks like Gatorade or Powerade,” explains Fazel. “Unfortunately, those drinks are laden with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Though sugar in the short term makes you feel good right away, drinking a ton of sugar after a workout won’t allow your body to metabolise – it’s not dehydrating what your body has lost during the workout. Water is the best fuel post-workout.”


Fazel says, “Though your body may be exhausted after an intense workout, resist the urge to take a nap. Going to sleep directly after exercising won’t allow your body to relax and cool down. It’s similar to slamming on the brakes in a car. Your muscles are still fatigued and overworked – it’s important to take an hour and a half to two hours to truly cool down before resting.”


Stretching is one of the most important (and often neglected) parts of a fitness routine. Fazel recommends, “Stretching post-workout helps the breakdown of lactic acid that your body built up during exercise, releasing it through the muscles. Getting into the habit will help avoid injury and soreness, as well as drastically improve your flexibility.”


“Think about it,” SoulCycle instructor and holistic nutritionist Eve Lynn Kessner says. “You wipe your sweat off your shoulders, abs, then your face? Your hands are filled with germs you (or the person who used that machine before you) sweat out. First thing, wash your hands and splash your face with some cool water. Beauty comes from the inside out, but clogging those pores won’t help your cause.”


“Take your time hydrating and cooling down after your workout, but don’t walk around all day in sweaty clothing,” advises Kessner. “Let that inner glow shine (not chafe), and put on something clean and breathable.”


Kessner exclaims, “Always hydrate!” She continues, “If your workout was super sweaty, go for some natural electrolytes by way of coconut water – so many juice places now will serve it straight from the shell – or watermelon water (a favourite in my house).

 – MCT

It’s all lies!

Author Jeff Scot Philips makes some damning claims about ‘healthy’ food in his new book.

Larry Getlen – New York Post

IN SEPTEMBER, the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine publication revealed that many of Americans’ most prevalent beliefs about nutrition might be bunk.

The sugar industry financed nutritional studies, released in 1967, that downplayed the sweetener’s relation to heart disease, placing the blame on saturated fats instead. Those highly influenced findings have stuck for five decades.

One of the scientists involved even helped develop the government-issued nutrition guidelines which contained cautions on the evils of red meat while scarcely mentioning the dangers of sugar, if at all.

These revelations make the release of a new book by food-industry expert Jeff Scot Philips, Big Fat Food Fraud: Confessions of a Health-Food Hustler (Regan Arts), well-timed. Philips was a personal trainer who founded a health-food manufacturing company that prepackaged healthy meals. He is now reformed from that industry, and spends his time educating people on how almost everything we hear about nutrition — including from medical experts — may be false. Much of it, he says, is specially designed not to improve our health, but to separate us from our money.

In the book, Philips outlines a slew of ways we have been — and are still being — conned by the food industry. Here are just a few.

The yolk’s on eggs

Eggs have had a bad name in the past.

Eggs have had a bad name in the past.Source:istock

If you want to see how long inaccurate nutritional information can persevere, just take a look at eggs.

When Kellogg marketed its first food product, Cornflakes, in 1906, Philips writes that the company “mounted a vicious marketing campaign against the egg industry … claim[ing eggs] led to heart attacks.” The information was baseless fiction designed to sell cereal, but fear of eggs continues to this day.

“Are eggs healthy” and “Are eggs bad for you” are two of the top Google searches for this breakfast staple, despite the American Heart Association declaring eggs healthy in 2000, a finding reaffirmed by the government, in even stronger language, earlier this year.

Sometimes the food regulators are complicit

Philips shows that in some cases the food regulators may actively be making our food less healthful. A USDA (US Department of Agriculture) agent who worked with Philips’s company said he couldn’t approve calling a salmon dish “healthy” because the fat content was too high. The agent offered a solution: not to lower the fat content, but rather to add sugar or carbs to the meal.

“It’s the nutrition label,” the agent told him. “The guideline is about the ratio of fat grams to total grams in a serving.”

“That has nothing to do with health!” Philips said.

“Have you ever seen a Lean Cuisine meal without some bread or pasta in it?” the agent said, explaining, “The total grams of food go up while the fat grams stay the same; this evens out the ratio.”

The cover of Jeff Scot Philips’ new book.

The cover of Jeff Scot Philips’ new book.Source:Supplied

It’s a numbers game

Given the growing interest in eating healthfully, finding trans fat-free and sugar-free food is a top concern for many people. But the sad fact is that many foods marketed as trans fat-free or sugar-free might actually be loaded with them.

“Legally, as long as the trans fats-per-serving is equal to or less than 0.5 grams, we were allowed to list them as zero on the label,” Philips writes of his former company. But he also notes that brands are legally allowed to set the serving sizes on their packaging (1 serving, 3½ servings per bag, etc.) however they want.

So if a food contains too much trans fat or sugar to be considered healthy, a marketer can make it seem like far less by creating smaller portion sizes.

“If one of our meals contained 20 grams of sugar, we simply chopped the serving size down to four per container, and listed five grams of sugar on the nutrition label,” Philips writes.

Since health-food marketers need to be able to claim their foods are trans fat-free, they simply play with portion sizes until the math works.

“Nobody could stop us from marking a food that actually had 5 grams of trans fats at zero grams,” he writes, “simply by listing the servings-per-container at 10.”

Author Jeff Scot Philips.

Author Jeff Scot Philips.Source:Supplied

Doctors drink the Kool-Aid

Even the nutrition information you get from your physician might be false — because the doctor might be getting that information from marketers like Philips.

In the book, he mentions a computer program called Infusionsoft that handles all ends of the consumer-marketing process in order to target local health and nutrition pros with the newest findings — which are typically sponsored, created or manipulated by marketers — so that these experts can then promote these findings to their patients and clients.

Philips cites an example of a marketing campaign he used to sell more smoothies and protein bars. He knew of one doctor in particular who prided herself on knowing all the new info; one of her patients was also a Philips customer. Philips bombarded the doctor with messages about “new research” that found calorie counting was paramount to weight loss, and therefore, supplements like smoothies and protein bars could be more effective than “real” food if they had fewer calories.

He saw the success in his campaign via his customer, who, based on her doctor’s advice, started buying more of his smoothies and protein bars — and gained 23 pounds in the process.

Given all he knows about the industry, Philips’s own philosophy on food is to stick to the basics: eat more protein and less sugar, avoid processed food or anything that comes in a box, and, most of all, ignore marketing terms and nutrition labels, because they aren’t educating us the way we think they are.

“The cold truth is: Food labels aren’t there to educate you,” he writes. “They’re there to help market to you.”

This article originally appeared on The New York Post.

Drinking water before a meal – we separate fact from fiction

There’s an old dieter’s adage that you should drink a full glass of water before a meal, to reduce your appetite and prevent yourself from eating too much.

There are also claims that drinking water during meals is a bad idea, because it may have negative effects on digestion.

Medical professionals, on the other hand, keep telling us to chug down all the water we can, no matter what time of day.

When it comes to water and meals, what’s true, and what’s a myth?

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Let’s start with that sage advice from dieters, because it’s actually based firmly in scientific research.

Drinking two glasses (around 500ml in total) of water before mealtimes has been proven by numerous studies as a weight loss aid. A 2016 study published in Obesity journal found overweight adults ate 40 less calories per meal after 500ml of H2O “pre-loading”, and other research has shown slightly higher results.

In fact, two studies (both from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism) have found that your metabolic rate and energy expenditure are increased by 30 per cent and 24 per cent (respectively) within 10-60 minutes of drinking 500ml of water.


Using the same metrics, another study by the University of Birmingham found the average weight loss over a course of three months was between two and four kilograms.

That’s without changing your diet at all, although there’s some suggestion that because high water consumption requires more frequent bathroom breaks, study participants could be walking more, and thus burn more calories that way.

The suggestions that drinking water and eating simultaneously during one meal could negatively affect your health are misleading.

There’s the myth that drinking water dilutes the digestive enzymes and acid in the stomach, making it more difficult for to process what you’re eating. This claim populates natural health and beauty blogs and spouted by some dieticians.

Moreover, there’s also the misguided argument that drinking water while eating speeds up the exit of foods (and their nutrients) through the body, thus disallowing maximum nutritional benefit and enabling poorer digestion.

According to the journals Digestive Diseases and Sciences and Clinical Nuclear Medicine, both claims are not scientifically sound. There’s no reliable evidence-based proof to support either argument.

The takeaway here is actually a nice little lesson in human biology: your digestive system simply and efficiently adapts its secretions to best suit a food’s consistency, and will digest as appropriate for the conditions it has been given.

There’s one exception where this doesn’t necessarily happen, but all it tells us is that there are some people who should take sips of water throughout their mealtimes, not that they shouldn’t.


Those that don’t chew their food thoroughly enough often end up swallowing large chunks, which makes digestion harder and leads them to feelings of pain and bloating. Water breaks these chunks up as soon as they go down the throat and into the stomach, meaning water can help digest food.

What’s more, water is essential in softening stools and helping them glide through the body. This means you’re less likely to experience constipation.

The only scientific evidence that suggests people should not drink water with their food concerns those with gastric reflux (also known as acid reflux). As a study in Surgical Endoscopy journal confirmed, extra liquid in the stomach emulates the feeling of being over-full, and may trigger their reflux symptoms. Such people may feel more comfortable drinking and eating separately.

We must note that there is no scientific evidence to say that people who chew adequately and eat at a regular (i.e. not Labrador-like) pace must drink water with meals. There’s no data to confirm that water consumed with food interferes with your digestive enzymes, neither positively or nor negatively.

It’s up to you and your personal choice. As such, unless you’re one of the previously-mentioned exceptions, you can drink your required daily dose of water – which still remains at eight glasses/two litres – whenever you want throughout the day.

Lee Suckling has a masters degree specialising in personal health reporting. Do you have a health topic you’d like Lee to investigate? Send us an email to [email protected] with Dear Lee in the subject line.