Is It Better to Drink Cold or Warm Water?
Your proper temperature determines everything.
Some people prefer ice water, some like hot water with lemon, and some are fine with tap water. But does the water temperature affect our health in any way? Gastroenterologist Brian Weiner, MD, shares his insights in this article.
What qualifies as cold water?
This may seem silly but different people may have different perceptions of temperature comfort. That is why we are here to provide you with a range of cold water temperatures. As Dr. Weiner notes, a pitcher of ice water from the refrigerator would be about 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), cold tap water would be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.55 degrees Celsius), and room temperature water would be about 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25.55 degrees Celsius).
Is drinking cold water healthy?
You might assume that there would be a ton of research to support this, but according to Dr. Weiner, there is not much data to support the idea that drinking cold water is healthy. "We all need to hydrate ourselves. That is critical. In terms of studies or science about this, it is relatively limited," he states.
Advantages of cold water
He goes on to say that in the most well-researched examples involving athletes and hydration, however, athletes tended to prefer cold tap water since it seemed to cool them down more quickly.
"It turns out that sweating stops before fluid can be absorbed fully by the body. Research indicates that there is a reflex that recognizes the intake of liquids, and it activates more strongly at the temperature of cold tap water," according to Dr. Weiner.
Ice can aid in calorie burning.
This one is very familiar to Dr. Weiner, who gave up ice cream a few years ago in favor of Italian ice. Although he came to enjoy the switch, there was still an issue with the calorie count on the cups—they neglected to account for the energy required by the body to melt the ice—so he decided to do some research.
Dr. Weiner states in a paper that, "I calculated it, and for every ounce of ice that you eat, it takes five calories to melt it and bring it up to body temperature." To put it briefly, cold tap water is a good option if you want to stay hydrated, and Italian ice is a good option if you want to burn some extra calories.
Does achalasia respond better to warm or hot water?
Achalasia is a rare disorder that affects the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. People with achalasia have difficulty swallowing because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is responsible for keeping food and liquids in the esophagus, does not relax properly. One study found that drinking hot or warm foods or beverages may help the LES relax and lower its pressure, which may facilitate swallowing for those with achalasia. Conversely, drinking cold water may exacerbate the symptoms of achalasia by increasing the pressure of the LES.
So, what’s better for you?
While it is true that warm or hot water can help you go through the restroom more easily or relieve sinus congestion, Dr. Weiner believes there are not many health benefits to drinking warm or hot water.
"People like hot beverages for their souls, for their psyches. There is something very comforting about hot beverages," he says. "If the hot steam from a hot cup of chicken soup gets into your nasal passages while you have a cold, that can offer some relief, but it is not a hydration issue. It is like when your mother gives you a hot cup of soup; you see the nurturing value of the food, but there is very little to no value in terms of medicine
Therefore, in the end, it primarily boils down to personal preference.