Staying hydrated has proven benefits for your mental and physical health. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that men 19 and older consume 3.7 liters of water per day (15.5 cups) and women 19 and older consume 2.7 liters daily (11.5 cups). But can drinking cold water have a negative impact on your health?
Some people believe that drinking cold water is a bad habit that can actually harm your long-term health. This belief is based on the idea that drinking cold water contracts your stomach, making it harder to digest food after a meal. Some people also believe that your body has to work harder to maintain its internal temperature of 98.6°F (37°C) if you’re drinking water that’s near the temperature of ice, or less than 36°F (4°C).
But is there any truth to these ideas? Keep reading to find out the possible risks and benefits of drinking cold water.
Drinking cold water does affect your body in ways you may not anticipate or want. One older and small study from 1978, involving 15 people, found that drinking cold water made nasal mucous thicker and more difficult to pass through the respiratory tract. By comparison, the researchers found that chicken soup and hot water helped people breathe more easily. If you’re trying to treat a cold or flu, drinking cold water might make your congestion feel worse.
There are some health conditions that drinking cold water can aggravate. Drinking cold water was linked in 2001 to triggering migraines in people that already experience migraine. The pain related to achalasia, a condition that limits your body’s ability to pass food through your esophagus, can also get worse when you drink cold water with a meal.
In ancient Chinese medicine, drinking cold water with hot food is seen as creating an imbalance. Typically, meals in the Chinese culture are served with warm water or hot tea, instead. This belief is mirrored in several other cultures around the world.
Some people hold a similar belief that drinking cold water on a hot day won’t help cool you down. There isn’t enough research to conclude that either belief is true or false.
Drinking cold water does have its benefits. Drinking cold water during exercise can help keep your body from overheating and make your workout session more successful. This is probably because drinking cold water makes it easier for your body to maintain a lower core temperature.
Drinking plain water, no matter the temperature, has been proven to give your body more energy throughout the day.
Can drinking cold water help with weight loss?
Drinking water as an alternative to sugary beverages is good for your digestion and maintaining a healthy weight, even if the water you drink is on the colder side. Drinking water that’s cold may actually help you burn a couple of extra calories as you digest it because your body has to work harder to maintain its core temperature. But it’s not likely that drinking cold water is a powerful jump-start tool for weight loss.
Drinking warm water can aid in digestion, help your circulation, and overall assist your body in getting rid of toxins faster. While this isn’t a “risk,” per se, it’s something to keep in mind as you decide how you’d like to get water in your body.
Drinking warm or hot water has been found to make you less thirsty. This can be dangerous on days when your body is losing water through sweating to try to keep cool. If you do opt to drink warm water, be aware that you may not feel thirsty as often as you should.
Some people may want to avoid drinking cold water. Drinking cold water while you have a cold or flu, or if you have any chronic condition that results in slower digestion, is probably not a great idea. But while some cultures regard drinking cold water as a significant health risk for everyone, there isn’t a lot of evidence to support that claim. There are plenty of benefits to drinking warm water, though.
As for the benefits of drinking cold water? They turn out to be the same benefits of drinking regular room-temperature water: Keeping you hydrated and giving you more energy.
If you’re concerned about your digestion, trying to make a plan to lose weight, or feeling like you might be consistently dehydrated, speak with your doctor and make a plan that will keep you hydrated and healthy.