Water can be a touchy subject for some, especially during an age when almost anybody can become an Internet expert overnight. Some hydration hipsters will hail warm water for its perceived natural benefits while denouncing cold water as a blight against health and fitness. Other people will swear by cold water for its refreshing feel and will even drink it during cold days. Most, however, will take what they can get and will never give the temperature of their drinking water much thought because, well, isn’t water just water? Does it really matter if I drink water hot or cold as long as I drink enough water to stay hydrated? According to the world’s doctors and nutritionists: yes-and-no to both questions.
Water You Talking About?
If you’re like my brother, you’d swear you can taste the difference between different sources of water and, for this reason alone, he violently rejects drinking Arrowhead water. The taste and quality of Arrowhead water probably has to do with it being bottled from a mountain spring as opposed to clean tap water or filtered water, but, it should be clear, not all drinkable water is the same; this sentiment is true of what’s actually in your drinking water and it’s true of your drinking water’s temperature.
Do you remember that old saying that you need to drink eight glasses of water (or 64 ounces) a day? I do and it’s one of many bold faced lies I’ve been told throughout the years–it’s up there with Santa being real and salads tasting good. While it’s recommended you drink 64 ounces of water each day, you really could be drinking more or less depending on your situation. If you’re exercising a lot or it’s very hot outside, then you would definitely need more than 64 ounces of water.
A good tip is to check the color of your urine after you pee, which is a fun science personal science project in itself. Normal color urine is usually a pale yellow and anything darker denotes dehydration. Clearer looking urine isn’t bad, but it does mean that you’re over-hydrated (yes, that’s a thing) and your body is just flushing excess water out of your system.
In general, staying hydrated is always important for your health, but drinking water temperature has specific effects for your body depending on whether you’re drinking hot or cold water. These effects may vary from person-to-person and there isn’t an overwhelming amount of exact science behind each claim, but there are strong links and trends to suggest that there certain benefits to drink water at different temperatures at different times and situations. Below, I’ve compiled a list of situations when drinking hot or cold water may or may not be beneficial to your health.
Eating and Digestion
Water is a great alternative to alcohol and carbonated soft drinks because of water doesn’t contain any calories, sugar, and (hopefully) sodium. One 12-ounce can of Budweiser contains 145 calories and 9 mg of sodium. A 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew, the drink of kings, has 170 calories, 65 mg of sodium, and 46 g of sugar. A diet drink like Diet 7-Up may do away with calories and sugar, but it’s still has a pretty high sodium content with 45 mg. There are, however, added benefits to drinking hot or warm water while you’re eating.
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Cold water, as it seems, is terrible for your digestive system. Drinking colder water immediately after or during your meal cools down your body and that two disruptive things to happen to your digestive system.
- The cold water will cool down your body, forcing your body to expend its energy resources to raising your body temperature as opposed to actively aiding your digestive system. This slows down the digestion process and may cause indigestion, weight issues, or other illnesses.
- When cold water passes through the body, it can cool down areas of your body where oil and fat from consumed food is present, hardening that oil and turning it into fat deposits in the body or intestine. This, in turn, would increase your risk of gaining more white fat, which is more difficult to burn off and lose.
As a result, the best drinking water temperature to have during dinner is hot water because it aids your digestive system. For people who routinely suffer from indigestion, drinking hot or warm water before and during a meal will help activate your digestive system so you can better avoid indigestion. Drinking hot water will also stimulate blood flow to the intestine, which will help prevent constipation.
Constipation can worsen if more digested foodstuff gets backed up. A bigger back up can cause more stomachaches or a very stressful time sitting on the porcelain throne. Hot water can help alleviate those problems by helping to breakdown and flush out the remains of food in your system, making it easier for your body to manage and pass out smoothly through the intestines. That’s probably not a conversation you’d want to have during dinner, though, as you try to convince your companion not to drink cold water.
There are a few different areas where different drinking water temperatures will increase your body’s ability to heal itself. In many instances, it appears that drinking warm to hot water is better for you when your body is not functioning at maximum efficiency.
Nasal and Throat Congestion
One of a few reasons why hot water is better than cold water in terms of illness is that it is a natural expectorant, which can break down and clear away mucus from your nose and throat. This makes hot and warm water great for people with a powerful case of the rhinovirus or they routinely suffer from nasal or throat congestion problems. By adding lemon or tea to your hot water, you can increase the taste and health benefits gained from green teas.
Drinking hot water is also a great way to relieve pain. Since warm and hot water improves circulation and helps blood flow to tissues, drinking hot water is a natural way to help reduce joint pain or menstrual cramps. If you’re taking pain killers or medicine, taking those your medication with hot water may help your body break down and absorb the chemicals from that medicine quicker to provide faster relief.
If you’re outdoors and trying to survive in the wild, any drinking water temperature would be great, but hot water is usually safer. Since boiling water kills off most water-borne diseases, you’re better off drinking hot water than any cold, unfiltered water.
High Body Temperatures
The one edge that drinking cold water has against illnesses is during fevers or heat strokes. Anytime the body’s temperature is dangerously elevated, it’s better to drink cold water to cool the body down than it is to drink hot water. It’s also important to keep hydrated when you’re feeling overheated because your body will lose water by sweating, which is a natural biological mechanism to try and cool your body temperature. By drinking cold water, you’ll be performing two important functions at the same time.
Dieting and Exercising
There isn’t much of a consensus when it comes to an ideal drinking water temperature for exercising. Most seem to back the idea that drinking cold water is best during a work out because the cool water is more effective at lowering your elevated body temperature after a hard workout or intense physical activity.
In a previous article, we discussed the effects that cold has on losing weight. Since the body has to increase its metabolism to expend energy in order to warm up, burning off white fat in the process. This principle seems to be applied here as well with cold water lowering your body temperature to give your metabolism a boost.
The flip side to this is that some people argue warm water is a better post-workout drink because it replenishes vitamins and minerals in your body, rehydrates you, and simulates the metabolic process. Warm water also promotes burning extra calorie after your workout, giving your workout weight loss a little extra boost.
I’m more inclined to say that following a workout, the ideal drinking water temperature would be just below room temperature. It wouldn’t necessarily be cold, but it’s cool enough to help cool your body down slowly and will be easier to drink, allowing for faster hydration.
As far as a detox is concerned, hot water is key to body detoxification. Raising your body temperature high enough to produce sweat, which will help you cleanse your body and remove all of the toxins from it. By removing toxins from your body, this should also help repair skin cells, increase your skin’s elasticity, and provide smoother skin for those struggling with acne.
Drinking water before going to bed is a good way to prevent midnight cravings and feel rejuvenated in the morning, but should you drink hot or cold water before catching those elusive Zs? Many seem to agree that warm water is best because it aids in digestion, which is a plus because, unless you’re a sleep walker, you’ll physically inactive while sleeping. Warm water will also help cleanse your body of toxins and does a better job of relaxing your body before a good night’s sleep. Cold water would only serve the opposite by forcing your body to warm up, which would keep you up a little longer.
Then again, if it’s a particularly hot summer, warm water probably wouldn’t be the best thing to drink before going to bed because it would just make your body feel warmer. Cool water would be more beneficial during hot and humid nights because you’ll be able to cool your body down to a more comfortable temperature, thus allowing you to fall asleep sooner.
Remember, however, that drinking more water at night will likely result in you having to get up more often to go to the bathroom. So, if you are going to drink water before going to bed, you should do so at least an hour before and/or pee before calling it a night.
So, Who Won?
Overall, warm to hot water holds more health benefits and appears to be a better go-to choice by default over cold water. Hot water is a more natural remedy to help relieve many illnesses while cold water is only best at cooling the body down and providing a refreshing feeling.
With a water dispenser, like the NewAir WCD-200W, you could easily choose between hot or cold water in an instant without having to wait for a kettle to boil or ice to finish freezing. If I had to choose a winner, though, the winner is clearly humanity because where would we be without water?