In addition to providing your body with the water it needs to replenish fluids, drinking hot water can improve your digestion, relieve congestion, and even make you feel more relaxed.
Most people that drink hot water as a holistic health remedy do so first thing in the morning or right before bed for optimal health benefit. “Hot” water shouldn’t be scalding your taste buds. More specifically, water should be warmed to between 120°F and 140°F. Avoid exceeding temperatures of 160 degrees. Add a twist of lemon for a vitamin C boost and you’re already on your way to better health. Listed below are ways that drinking hot water might benefit you.
1. Relieves nasal congestion
The warmth of hot water creates steam. Taking a deep inhale of this gentle vapor while holding a cup of hot water can help loosen clogged sinuses and even relieve a sinus headache. Since you have mucous membranes throughout your neck and upper torso, drinking hot water can help warm that area and soothe a sore throat caused by mucous buildup.
2. Aids digestion
Drinking hot water both soothes and activates your digestive tract. Water is, after all, the lubricant that keeps your digestion going. As the water moves through your stomach and intestines, digestive organs are better hydrated and able to eliminate waste. Hot water can dissolve and dissipate things you’ve eaten that your body might have had trouble digesting.
3. Calms central nervous system
Drinking hot water can calm your central nervous system and lubricate your body. When your nervous system is primed for healthy and controlled reactions, you’ll find that you feel fewer aches and pains, as well as less panicked throughout your day. People that have arthritis might get an extra benefit from using hot water to calm their central nervous system.
4. Helps relieve constipation
Drinking hot water helps your intestines to contract. When that happens, old waste trapped in your intestines is able to pass out of your body. Drinking hot water regularly helps keep you, well, regular. But drinking it occasionally when you’re constipated isn’t a bad idea, either.
5. Keeps you hydrated
Hot water is no different than room temperature or cool water when it comes to keeping you hydrated. You should be getting nine to twelve 8-ounce servings of water in your diet every day, but that’s a hard target for most people to hit. Starting your day with a serving of hot water, and ending your day with another, will get you that much closer to being adequately hydrated. Your body needs water to perform basically every essential function, so the value of that cannot be overstated.
6. May aid in weight loss
Drinking hot water wakes your body’s temperature control system up. As your body compensates for the warm temperature of the water, bringing your internal temperature down, your metabolism is activated. Hot water also helps your intestines contract to clear out waste products that are bloating your body, which gets rid of the dreaded “water weight.”
7. Improves circulation
Taking a warm bath helps your circulatory organs — your arteries and veins — to expand and carry blood more effectively throughout your body. Drinking hot water can have a similar effect. Healthy blood flow affects everything from your blood pressure to your risk of cardiovascular disease. As a bonus, warmth from drinking hot water or bathing at nighttime can help relax you and prepare you for restful sleep.
8. Can decrease stress levels
Since drinking hot water helps improve central nervous system functions, you might end up feeling less anxious if you drink it. Adding some warm milk to the mix might find you feeling even more calm after drinking hot water, according to one study.
9. Can help reduce toxins
Drinking hot water temporarily begins to raise your internal body temperature. When you drink hot water, or when you take a warm bath, your body’s endocrine system activates and you start to sweat. And while sweating might be uncomfortable, it’s an essential part of getting rid of toxins and irritants that you are exposed to in your environment.
10. Helps relieve symptoms of achalasia
Achalasia is a condition during which your esophagus has trouble moving food down into your stomach. People with achalasia (and with eosinophilic esophagitis) have trouble swallowing and also sometimes feel like foods get “stuck” (dysphagia) in their esophagus instead of moving to the stomach. Researchers aren’t sure why, but warm water can help people with achalasia to digest more comfortably. Drinking warm water with oily food or a meat-heavy meal might be especially helpful for people with this diagnosis.
Limits and risks
Drinking hot water has plenty of benefits, but it isn’t a magical cure-all. And drinking water that is too hot can actually damage the tissue in your esophagus, burn your taste buds, and scald your tongue. It’s critical to be very careful when you drink hot water by paying attention to the temperature.
You shouldn’t drink hot water if you’re working in a hot climate or exercising. Research shows that drinking hot water makes you less thirsty, and if you’re running the risk of being dehydrated by your environment, you should give yourself the best chance you can to stay hydrated.
Getting into the habit of drinking hot water doesn’t take a lot of work. Starting your day with water that’s been boiled and left to cool is an easy switch out from your morning coffee. Add a light session of stretching to your routine and you’ll feel more energized and better equipped to tackle your day.
If the taste of warm water doesn’t appeal to you, add a twist of citrus — like lemon or lime — to the beverage before you consume it. Drinking warm water before bed is a great way to wind down after a busy day, and knowing about the health benefits will have you sleeping soundly.