Is Drinking Hot Water Healthier?

We break down whether the temperature of your drinking water matters.

December 29, 2020

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Photo by: Andrii Medvediuk / 500px / Getty Images

Andrii Medvediuk / 500px / Getty Images

Hydration is a vital component to good health and figuring out how much water to drink leaves many scratching their heads. Another shockingly common question: Does water temperature matter? We break down the science of drinking hot water for your health.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been practiced for centuries and research has explored its effectiveness for conditions ranging from wellness to measles to mental illness.

Ideologies about the impact of hot and cold temperatures on the body are deep rooted in TCM. This form of healthcare is centered around balance, opposition of forces and the concept of Yin and Yang. The ultimate goal of health in TCM is to achieve balance, harmony and a personal flow that works best for the individual.

TCM beliefs support that drinking cold water throws off the balance of the body and according to some sources, inhibits proper digestion by cooling off intentionally hot gastric juices needed to break down food. Proponents of TCM also claim that drinking cold liquids causes stress throughout the body, disposing an individual to circulatory problems, fatigue and a laundry list of other ailments.

Thermoregulation is a complex process, a homeostatic mechanism that the body works very hard to maintain — much like TCM, the goal is balance. When we go outside, or in a hot shower we may experience temporary shifts in body temp that are quickly restored to baseline. Drinking large amounts of water (hot or cold) may adjust body temp very briefly but there is little evidence to support this would disrupt the body to the degree where it would be harmful. While things like an “ice cream headache” can in fact occur by stimulating a major nerve in the brain, there’s no evidence to support the same impact on other organ systems. In fact, in athletes, there is research to support cold beverages promote increased consumption of fluids, benefitting their performance.

Bottom Line: Stay hydrated. Drinking water is healthy, no matter what the temperature.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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