It’s no secret that America has a seltzer obsession. Whether your drink of choice is pamplemousse LaCroix or lemon Polar, we just can’t seem to get enough of the bubbly stuff. Now new research out of the Monell Chemical Senses Center confirms that cold seltzer quenches thirst best so you can feel even better about cracking open that can.
The study published in the peer-review journal PLOS One examined the effects that oral sensations — such as those caused by delightful fizzies — had on thirst quenching and how much we drink. Researchers instructed 98 subjects to abstain from eating or drinking for 12 hours (but don’t feel too bad for them — the fast was done overnight). The next morning, the thirsty subjects received breakfast, along with a set amount of an “experimental beverage.” The participants were asked to drink the entirety of the 400 ml (13.5 ounces or a glass and a half), and were also given regular ol’ room-temperature water to quench additional thirst as needed afterwards. The researchers recorded how much of the water was consumed after the “experimental beverage” to test the effect it had on perceptions of thirst and satiety. The properties of the beverage differed in temperature, as well as sweetness, astringency, acidity and carbonation. A Menthol solution was also used to make warm beverages feel artificially cooler when drunk, changing the mouth’s perception of temperature.
Researchers found that of all the variables, only temperature and carbonation had a measurable effect on how much water the participants drank afterwards. Room-temperature seltzer and cold still water seemed to quench thirst the best, reducing additional room-temperature water consumption by up to 50 percent.
In a second experiment, 10 subjects were asked to drink the "experimental beverage" through a opaque straw and glass so that they would be unaware visually of how much they were drinking. When they were asked to estimate how much liquid they ingested, researchers found that if the beverage was cold or carbonated, the subjects guessed that they drank more than they actually had. They guessed on average that they had swallowed 22 percent more fluids than if the beverage was room-temperature still water.
While these findings may seem fairly obvious, they could have an important implications for how to aid certain populations prone to dehydration, such as the elderly and endurance athletes. "We have a decent understanding of what turns thirst on," lead author of the study Paul Breslin told Fast Co. Exist, "but need to better understand what turns it off so we can motivate the elderly and other at-risk populations to keep drinking their fluids." If you want gramps to get more fluid, try stocking his fridge with a few bottles of sparkling water. But don't sweat over whether to purchase black cherry or raspberry-lime, the study showed that flavorings had no effect on thirst quenchability. I suppose I should break my Soda Stream out of storage, as this craze that shows no signs of fizzling out.