Is Cold Water Bad For Digestion? A Case For Drinking Room Temp

May 14, 2019

Health and wellness advice has plenty to say on the subject of a healthy diet. We all know this. Don’t eat this, eat that, etc. But do any of us really spend a lot of time thinking about what we are drinking?  Especially when it comes to a healthy human being’s best friend… Water. But what could be worrying or unhealthy about water?

According to Ayurveda, a form of ancient natural medicine which has sprung into the spotlight in recent years, has an interesting take on your health and cold water. Ayurvedic practitioners advise that water should be the same temperature as our bodies. A healthy human body is usually around 36-37 degrees Celsius, and so your water should also be that warm. The ancient teaching is that water colder than this can have the effect of lowering your body’s natural temperature.

So what effect can this have other than a slightly unpleasant brain freeze?

Ayurveda teaches that the lowered temperature of your body demands immediate attention and resolution. Your body makes it a priority to get your temperature back up to normal. The downside of this is that this requires extra energy from your body, which will divert this energy from going to less important tasks. Among those less urgent tasks is digestion. The energy that could have gone to making digestion more effective is taken away and used to keep you warm. As a result, you can experience:

  • A slower rate of digestion: Because there is less energy for the muscles of your intestines, food moves at a slower pace. Clogging your digestive system with food trying to be digested… that would probably cause some serious discomfort!
  • Less effective absorption of nutrients: Imagine your body is like an artist assembling a mosaic.  If the artist has lots of energy and enthusiasm for his project, he will make a beautiful mosaic with lots of details. If he has no energy he will rush through the project, leave parts unfinished and leave out the extra details which take effort. Your body is the exact same. If it has energy, it will do an extremely effective job of keeping your systems working in ship-shape. If there is not enough energy it will cut corners. Specifically by opting not to spend energy on extracting trace (and very essential) nutrients from your food.
  • Reduced blood flow: Blood flow is essential for the healthy function of muscles and tissues, and your intestines are made of muscles. So it’s incredibly important that you are able to keep blood flowing well to these organs. However, under cold conditions, the blood vessels will collapse, as observed in a clinical trial looking at the effects of different temperature liquids on mucus in the nose and how fast it traveled out.

So you might be sitting there and wondering how on Earth you’re supposed to deal with the coming summer without your morning smoothies and iced teas in the sun. Well, here are some ways you can have your cold beverage and drink it too!

  1. Drink tea: Tea is touted in the health community as having a huge number of benefits. Particularly herbal infusions! Many blends have specific purposes, such as aiding in sleep, clarity, calm, weight loss, and yes even digestion. Aside from the benefits of the contents, however, is the fact that drinking hot water (or water in tea) is perfect for opening your blood vessels instead of closing them. Aiding your body in being most effective at healing and growth. Have you ever wondered why you crave warm drinks when you’re sick? This is why.
  2. Eat easily digestible foods: If you’re going to be drinking a cold drink with a meal (perhaps at a restaurant or similar) opt for foods that are easy for your body to digest. This means to steer clear of beans, large amounts of complex carbohydrates, unnatural ingredients, and seeds—all of which throw off your digestion. Choose something with healthy fats, light on carbohydrates, and with simple ingredients that you eat often and that your body recognizes. With this approach, you can lessen the energy required by making the process quicker.
  3. Drink cold drinks by themselves: If you must drink an iced latte or smoothie, it’s a good idea to leave a 2-2.5 hour gap between drinking the drink and having the meal. This won’t yield perfect digestion and it’s possible that you could still get some of the effects of cold water. However, it gives your possible a sizable amount of time to break down the most difficult components of your food. This way it’s easier to break down the rest even with impaired digestion.

If you’ve been struggling with digestive pain, this tip may relieve your symptoms with only a little adjustment. So pay attention to your body, be conscious of the impacts of temperature and go get creative with your drink options!

Photo: Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Aine Barton is a curious adventurer, living life as ethically and consciously as possible. She grew up vegetarian in New Zealand and became vegan in early 2017. She is a passionate writer, blogger, yoga enthusiast, traveler and activist for human and animal rights. You can usually find Aine under a tree writing or on a train to the last stop. Follow Aine as she explores herself, human kind and the world on


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