Ice-cold drinks are refreshing in the summer heat, and drinking ice water can help you burn calories(1). But there’s lots of anecdotal evidence that drinking iced drinks can be bad for you, even when the weather is hot – and the science backs it up.
You’ve probably how warm water opens your pores and makes your skin feel looser, while cold water closes your pores and constricts your skin. Guess what? Drinking cold water does the same thing to your digestive tract! Here are a few reasons to consider skipping the ice in your drinks:
1. Cold Water Can Affect Your Digestion
According to one study from the Journal of Physiology, the effects of drink temperature can have a serious impact on your digestive system(2). Ultimately the effects vary from person to person, but cold water was shown to have a negative impact on meal digestion.
This is a concept found in traditional Chinese medicine, according to one holistic Chinese medicine clinic.
“If you drink cold liquid with a meal then all of the fats will solidify and turn your food into a sticky sludge that slows down your digestion and becomes stagnant,” the clinic’s literature explains(3).
Drink something cold causes your blood vessels to shrink and this hinders your digestion. Instead of working towards breaking down and absorbing the nutrients from the foods you just ate, your body is stuck wasting energy to regulate your core temperature.
2. Cold Water Can Negatively Affect The Spleen
In acupuncture traditions, the spleen is considered to need a moderate temperature in order to function properly. A healthy spleen is essential for protecting the body from pathogens and fighting off infection(4).
3. Cold Water Weakens Your Immune System
Drinking cold water after a meal creates excess mucus in your body, which can lead to a decrease in immune system function, making it easier to catch colds and illnesses. Although its effect is minimal, to an individual with a weak constitution, drinking cold water could prove problematic.
4. Cold Water Can Exacerbate Existing Health Conditions
Cold water can exacerbate asthma symptoms in children, according to a study by the Eurpean Society of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology(6). Another study found that 7.6% of participants experienced a headache after drinking a glass of ice water – and the numbers only go up when you factor in whether or not a participant had a history of migraine(7).
Benefits to Drinking Warm Water
Here are some benefits to drinking water that is room temperature or warmer:
- Faster + increased hydration
- Natural digestive enzymes are stimulated and therefore your digestion is enhanced
- Food breaks down more easily
- Your bowels move better (warm water with lemon in the morning is great for this!)
Hot Drinks Can Cool You Down Just As Well As Cold Ones
If you’re feeling reluctant to give up ice cold drinks, consider the fact that warm beverages have been proven to help you cool down just as effectively as cold ones.
According to a report from NPR, “The hot drink somehow has an effect on your systemic cooling mechanisms, which exceeds its actual effect in terms of heating your body.”(8)
It may seem counter-intuitive, but a room temperature drink might be even better for you on a hot day than an ice-cold one.