Is it Bad to Drink Cold Water With a Meal?

Drinking water, whether it's warm, cold or room temperature, benefits the body in many different ways. Among its many benefits, water prevents you from becoming dehydrated, cushions your joints and protects your organs. There's lots of debate about the ideal temperature of the water you drink.

Drinking cold water with a meal has not been shown to be any worse than drinking warm water. (Image: d3sign/Moment/GettyImages)

Tip

Drinking cold water with a meal has not been shown to be any worse than drinking warm water. In fact, drinking water with a meal aids digestion, whether it's warm or cold.

Cold Water Myths

There's been a long-held belief in Eastern and Ayurvedic medicine that warm water benefits digestion, and cold water slows digestion. The theory is that warm water stimulates hunger and is easy to digest. According to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, it helps with hiccups and flatulence and breaks down food better than cold water.

But there is little evidence to show that drinking cold water is any worse than drinking warm water. Drinking water with meals is good, says the Mayo Clinic. A small study of six healthy adult males detailed in the September 2013 issue of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine showed that cool tap water, about 61 degrees F, is best for drinking when feeling dehydrated.

A small study of 12 young people, detailed in the June 2014 journal Acta Physiologia showed that drinking cold or room temperature water after exercise reduced the workload of the heart. A study of 45 fit adult males, in the September 2012 issue of Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, showed that drinking cold water can delay the increase in core body temperature while exercising, although water temperature didn't statistically affect performance.

Warm and Cold Water Research

Warm water has a few benefits, as long as it's not scalding. Warm water helped 25 healthy male participants in a study in the February 2014 journal Pharmaceutical Research absorb medication faster because of more rapid gastric emptying. Drinking a glass of warm water may help relieve mild esophageal spasms and strictures, says the Cleveland Clinic.

But warm water given to post-operative patients after gall bladder surgery had no effect on bowel movements, according to a study in the September/October 2016 issue of Gastroenterology Nursing. This study had 60 participants. Warm water was given to 30 patients, while the other 30 served as the control group.

There's also a myth that drinking cold water helps you lose weight. But according to the University of Arkansas Medical School, you burn a mere eight calories when you drink a glass of cold water. That's because your body warms the water to your body temperature.

Water and You

Instead of focusing on whether or not you should drink cold water with a meal, focus on water's overall benefits, says Harvard Health Publishing. A study in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics showed that people who drank 1 percent more water reduced their daily calorie intake by 68 to 205 calories a day.

Most people are not getting enough water to drink, Harvard Health Publishing says. Yet water benefits every part of your body in multiple ways. A few examples include:

  • Water carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells
  • Water flushes bacteria from your bladder
  • Water aids digestion
  • Water helps blood pressure and stabilizes the heartbeat
  • Water cushions the joints
  • Water protects organs and tissues.

So the next time you drink a glass of water, don't worry about whether it's cool, room temperature or warm. Just make sure you're drinking water. About 4 to 6 cups a day is typical, but check with your doctor to see how much water is right for you.

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