Why Can Cold Water Be Bad For You?
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.
The intake of cold water (or warm water) purely depends on one’s health condition and the situation they are in. Cold water is not suitable for individuals with migraines or achalasia. Hot water, on the other hand, seems to be safe for most people.
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.