Medical experts always recommend drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water every day for your physical and mental health. But does drinking cold water regularly affect your health negatively? Just like everything else in this world, research suggests that there are a few risks and benefits of drinking cold water. We will take a deeper look at it in this article to find out what they are. Scroll down to read more!
In This Article
Why Can Cold Water Be Bad For You?
Many believe that drinking cold water may do more harm than good. It is said that cold water may cause your stomach to contract, making the digestion process difficult. Some individuals also believe that their body will have to work harder to maintain the optimal inner temperature (37°C) if they drink water at 4°C or less.
But how much of this is true? In the following section, we will look at what research states.
In a small study published in Chest, cold water intake was found to make nasal mucus thicker, making it difficult to pass through the respiratory tract. Alternately, consuming hot water (or hot beverages, like chicken soup) was observed to make breathing easier. Cold water was also found to aggravate congestion in individuals with cold or flu (1).
In another study, drinking cold water was linked to migraines in people with a history of the condition (2). Cold water intake may also aggravate the pain associated with achalasia (a condition that makes it difficult for food to pass through the esophagus) (3).
According to Chinese medicine, drinking cold water with meals is believed to create an imbalance within the body. Hence, meals from the Chinese culture (and several other cultures) are served with warm water.
Another popular belief is that drinking cold water doesn’t necessarily help cool your body on a hot summer day. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence in this regard.
Though cold water appears to do more harm, it does have certain benefits.
Benefits Of Drinking Cold Water
1. Balances Body Temperature Post Workout
Drinking cold water can prevent your body from overheating after a rigorous workout session. The intake of cold water makes it easier for your body to maintain a lower core temperature (4).
2. May Provide Energy
Coldwater may also provide your body with more energy throughout the day. However, concrete research is lacking in this aspect.
3. May Promote Energy Expenditure In Overweight Children
It is common knowledge that drinking water can aid digestion. It may also help with weight maintenance. Drinking cold water has been found to increase resting energy expenditure in overweight children (5).
Coldwater intake alone may not aid weight loss. It may, however, jump-start the process.
These are some advantages of drinking cold water. But does it mean that cold water is the way to go? How about warm water?
Is Warm (Or Hot) Water Better Than Cold Water?
Drinking warm water has its pros and cons. Warm water can aid digestion, improve circulation, and help your body get rid of toxins faster (6). But drinking warm water may make you less thirsty. This could be a problem in the hot temperatures as your body tends to lose more water through sweating.
Coldwater, in general, can keep you hydrated. However, cold water may not be a great idea when you have the cold or flu as it may slow down recovery. Cold water may also slow down digestion in adults.
You can take a few sips of cold water after a rigorous workout. But after a heavy meal (or when you have the flu), hot/warm water could be your best bet.
Infographic: Alternatives To Drinking Cold Water
While you may choose to drink cold water as per your health requirement and personal preference, sometimes, it may seem too dull to have it all through the day. You can spice up things by replacing cold water with other homemade beverages to keep up your hydration levels. Have a look at the infographic below and know your options.
With the above benefits of drinking cold water, you may want to make it a habit for yourself. While it may seem to help boost energy and balance the body temperature, it can also lead to migraine and digestive issues. On the other hand, while drinking warm water can help boost digestion, improve circulation, and help detox the body, it may make you less thirsty leading to chances of dehydration in hot and humid places. So depending on the place, weather, and your health conditions, you may prefer one over the other.
Though cold water inherently is not bad, it may cause issues in some people. Hence, check your health and the time of the day (or the season) to decide what works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to drink room temperature water?
Water at room temperature (or plain water) could work best in most cases. But if you are working out, sipping on some cold water can help. Warm water, on the other hand, can come to your rescue during the flu season.
Can drinking cold water help with weight loss?
While drinking cold water will not have a drastic effect on weight loss, it may increase your resting energy expenditure. This may help jump-start weight loss, though there isa lack of concrete evidence in this regard.
Is it bad to drink cold water on a hot day?
Drinking icy cold water on a hot day may cause harm. It can cause esophageal spasms and abdominal cramps. It may also cause your heart rate and blood temperature to drop.
Is cold water good for the face?
Yes. Cold water helps tightens the skin pores and makes you look refreshed.
Does drinking cold water affect sperm count?
Possibly. Some animal studies suggest that drinking ice-cold water too often may reduce sperm count and motility (7). More research is warranted in humans.
What happens when you drink cold water on an empty stomach?
Drinking cold water on an empty stomach may restrict digestion and contract blood vessels. However, limited data is available to prove these claims.
- Saketkhoo, K et al. “Effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance.” Chest vol. 74,4 (1978): 408-10.
- Mattsson, P. “Headache caused by drinking cold water is common and related to active migraine.” Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache vol. 21,3 (2001): 230-5.
- Ren, Yutang et al. “Response of esophagus to high and low temperatures in patients with achalasia.” Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility vol. 18,4 (2012): 391-8.
- Lafata, Danielle et al. “The effect of a cold beverage during an exercise session combining both strength and energy systems development training on core temperature and markers of performance.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 9,1 44.
- Dubnov-Raz, G et al. “Influence of water drinking on resting energy expenditure in overweight children.” International journal of obesity (2005) vol. 35,10 (2011): 1295-300.
- Patel, Suchita, et al. “SAY YES TO WARM FOR REMOVE HARM: AMAZING WONDERS OF TWO STAGES OF WATER!” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH.
- Long-Term Ice-Cold Water Drink Induced Testicular Damage and Altered Sperm Characteristics in Rats