Is drinking ice-cold water bad for overall health?

It is pertinent to consume enough water every day to support bodily functions, including digestion and metabolism, maintain a normal body temperature, and keep the organs and tissues healthy

Consuming chilled drinks, ice-cold water during the summer months to beat the sweltering heat is extremely common. Though it helps quench thirst and make one feel refreshed with an instant cooling sensation, many people believe it is not the best practise. Is it so? We reached out to experts to understand more.

It is pertinent to consume enough water every day to support bodily functions, including digestion and metabolism, maintain a normal body temperature, and keep the organs and tissues healthy. It also helps avoid dehydration which can cause other health issues.

Should cold water be avoided?

Usually, the temperature of our body is 37 degree C, so if you consume chilled water, the body gets directed towards regulating this temperature by shelling out energy, said Dr Sonam Solanki, consultant pulmonologist, Masina Hospital. In simple terms, cold water can cause an imbalance in the body and slow down the digestive process.

“Also, if chilled water is consumed during meals, then our body starts utilising the energy regulating the body temperature, which otherwise would have been used for digestion and absorbing nutrients. Another reason to avoid drinking chilled water, especially during or after meals, is that it increases the chances of developing irritant mucosa, sore throat, and stuffy nose,” said Dr Solanki

But there are no significant health risks associated with the same, even if a person drinks cold water on a hot day, stressed Shweta Mahadik, clinical nutritionist, Fortis Hospital Kalyan. “In fact, according to a 2012 study, drinking cold water during exercise can help keep the body from overheating and thereby, render a workout session more successful. This is probably because drinking cold water makes it easier for the human body to maintain a lower core temperature,” she informed.

So, is warm water a better option?

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A study published in 2003, Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults, found that switching from drinking cold water to hot water could increase weight loss. Researchers found that drinking 500 ml of water before a meal increased metabolism by 30 per cent.

Drinking cold water while a person has a cold or flu, or if they have any chronic condition that results in slower digestion, is probably not a great idea, said Mahadik.

“While warm water does have considerable benefits, there are no risks associated with cold water as it has the same benefits as drinking regular room-temperature water, namely keeping a person hydrated and feeling refreshed. If you think it messes up your digestive system and health, we recommend you seek advice from a doctor,” she mentioned.

According to ayurvedic practitioner Dr Dixa Bhavsar, however, it is best to avoid icy cold water and instead pick room temperature or tepid lukewarm water.

What is the best way to drink water?

Sip by sip.

She also suggested in an Instagram post that the quantity of water should just be enough and not more.

“I was also under the impression that we need to drink plenty of water for better skin, immunity, and digestion. But that’s not correct. If you drink lot of water, you might feel bloated, also it could dampen your digestive fire and increase kapha dosha. So, water is important and you need to drink that enough but not more. Try to listen to your body. You’ll know when your body needs water and when it needs food. Just needs a little bit of practice and you’ll ace listening to your body and feeding it accordingly,” she said.

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