Staying hydrated is vital to our health, but there is some debate about the best temperature for water to be when people drink it. Some advocates believe that drinking cold water can be harmful to you.
Consuming enough water every day is essential to support all body functions, including digestion and metabolism, eliminating waste, maintaining a normal body temperature, and maintaining healthy organs and tissues.
Is drinking cold water bad for you?
According to the Indian traditions of Ayurvedic medicine, cold water can cause an imbalance in the body and slow down the digestive process.
The body has a core temperature of around 98.6 °F / 37 °C and Ayurvedic practitioners think that the body needs to expend additional energy to restore this temperature after drinking cold water.
In Ayurvedic tradition, cold water can put out “fire” or Agni, which nourishes all body systems and is essential for health. Ayurvedic practitioners also believe that warm or hot water helps facilitate digestion.
In Western medicine, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that cold water is bad for the body or digestion. Drinking plenty of water can help the body flush out toxins, aid digestion, and prevent constipation.
A small study from 2013 investigated the effects of drinking water at different temperatures in six people who became dehydrated, after gentle exercise, in a hot, humid chamber.
The researchers found that the change in water temperature affected the sweat response of the participants and the amount of water they drank. The optimal water temperature in the study was 16 °C (60.8 °F), which is the temperature of cold tap water because the participants drank more water and sweated less. The researchers concluded that drinking 16 ° C water might be the best temperature for rehydration in dehydrated athletes.
Risks of drinking cold water
Some research suggests that people with conditions that affect the esophagus or food pipe, such as achalasia, should avoid drinking cold water. Achalasia is a rare condition that can make it difficult to swallow food and drink.
A 2012 study found that drinking cold water made symptoms worse in people with achalasia. However, when the participants drank hot water, it helped to calm and relax the food tube, making food and drink easier to swallow. A 2001 study involving 669 women suggests that drinking cold water can cause headaches in some people.
The researchers reported that 7.6 percent of the participants experienced a headache after drinking 150 milliliters of ice water through a straw. They also found that participants with active migraine were twice as likely to have a headache after drinking cold water than those who had never had a migraine. Some people claim that consuming cold foods and drinks can cause a sore throat or cold. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.
Benefits of drinking cold water
Some studies suggest that drinking cooler water during exercise can improve a person’s performance and endurance. For example, a 2012 study of 45 physically fit males found that drinking cold water during exercise significantly reduced the rise in body temperature compared to room temperature water.
A 2014 study investigated the effects of different beverages on the cycling performance of 12 male athletes trained in a tropical climate. The researchers reported that drinking an ice cold beverage was better for performance than drinking water at a neutral temperature. However, they also concluded that athletes performed best by consuming an ice drink that also had a menthol scent.
Some people claim that drinking cold water can help promote weight loss. Although some studies suggest that drinking more water can help the body burn a little more calories, there seems to be little difference between drinking cold water and water at room temperature.
Cold water vs Hot water
People may find it nice to drink warm or hot water, especially in colder months, while cold water can be more refreshing in hot weather. Drinking warm water can temporarily improve circulation by causing arteries and veins to expand.
Research suggests that the temperature of the water people drink can affect sweating and rehydration levels. For example, a 1989 United States Army study found that drinking warm water (40 °C) instead of cold water (15 °C) can cause people to drink less, which can lead to dehydration. A study by suggests that the optimal water temperature for rehydration after exercise may be 16 °C, which is roughly the same temperature as cold tap water.
The researchers reported that participants who drank water at this temperature voluntarily drank more water and sweated less than when they drank water at other temperatures. In another study, researchers concluded that drinking cold water at a temperature of 5 °C “did not improve voluntary drinking and hydration status” in six Taekwondo athletes. However, drinking water at any temperature is essential to stay hydrated, especially during exercise or in hot environments.