People living in tropical countries like we do face a daily fight against soaring temperatures and extreme humidity. Both can leave you feeling dehydrated and fatigued. In such a case, the temptation to reach out for cold water to quench your thirst is too strong to resist. But, have you ever thought of the effect of that on your body, especially if you are having cold water in between or right after your meals?

Impact of food and fluid temperature on body

Whenever you eat or drink something significantly above or below the normal internal body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degree Celsius), the body has to use its energy to bring the temperature to body temperature. This causes your body to lose out on absorbing the essential nutrients available in the meal. In the case of cold food or fluids, as the body spends more time and energy to warm it up, the time taken for digestion and assimilation too becomes longer with significant ill effects on our health.

Effect of having Cold Water with Food

This hypothesis about the impact of food temperature on your body is also applicable in case of consumption of cold water. Other ill effects of having cold water with food which one should know about are:

Digestive problems

One of the main reasons to avoid having chilled water with food is that when you have cold water in between meals or soon after that, it causes the stomach muscles and blood vessels to contract. This, in turn, hinders and slows down the overall digestive system of the body. Food becomes harder and solidifies when combined with cold water or other cold beverages. As the intestines contract too with the effect of cold water, the hardened food has difficulty passing through the body, leading to constipation. A tampered digestive system can go on to become the reason behind abdominal cramps and nausea.

Solidification and accumulation of fat

The other important reason to completely give up the habit of having cold water with your meals is that of a process called solidification.

The cold temperature of the water causes fats to harden and congeal, making them more difficult for the body to digest. With a slower digestive system and accumulation of fat, there is a propensity to gain weight.  Further, the body finds it difficult to break down existing fats which can cause you to pile up on extra kilos.

Accumulation of toxins

According to Ayurveda, the cold temperature of water interferes with the digestive fire (Agni) of the body resulting in the accumulation of toxins (‘Ama’) in the body. Accumulation of ‘ama’ has significant ramifications for the body’s digestive system.

Slows hydration

Though cold water might be more satisfying than room temperature water, it actually slows down the hydration process of the body.  This is because the cold water first needs to be regulated and bought down to the correct temperature before the body can use it, delaying the hydration process.

Drains energy

While in the short term cold water can leave you feeling refreshed, in the long term it actually drains you of energy. This is because the body has to draw on excess energy to warm the temperature of cold water and bring it down to meet the internal body temperature.

Potential heart problems

One of the most dangerous possible outcomes of having cold water with food is the effect it has on the vagus nerve. An integral part of the nervous system, the vagus nerve controls the involuntary functions of the body. Consumption of cold water directly impacts the functioning of the vagus nerve. It causes the heart to slow down or to even stop until the body temperature balances out once again.

Cold, cough, sore throat

 This outcome of having cold or chilled water is quite obvious and one which we have been warned against since childhood. In response to ingestion of cold liquid, our body creates thick nasal mucus as a natural humidifier. Difficult to pass through the respiratory tract, this mucus accumulates in the throat, making it sore and causing congestion. When the track gets congested, it becomes vulnerable to many other inflammatory infections like viral and flu.

Shock factor

The mismatch in temperatures due to cold water affects the spinal nerve which immediately gets communicated to the brain. This shock to the spinal nerve can result in the onset of unexpected headaches. Drinking chilled water after a strenuous workout too may lead to chronic stomach pain as extremely cold water shocks your body.

Teeth problems

 Cold water causes acute pain for people with sensitive teeth.

Drinks to have with food

A good alternative to cold or icy water is to have water at room temperture.  Eastern dietary habits are proven examples of benefits associated with this practice. Therefore, keep the temperature of your water as close to your body temperature for best results. 

Cold water versus warm water

It is crucial to acquaint yourself with the benefits of warm/room temperature water along with side effects of cold water:

  1. Warm water aids digestion by stimulating the natural digestive enzymes in the body.
  2. It helps in more regular and complete bowel movement.
  3. Warm water boosts the process of detoxification in the body, flushing the body of harmful toxins.
  4. Drinking warm water before bed can actually rehydrate your body by replenishing the liquids lost during the day.
  5. Warm water reportedly helps you fight premature aging too. 
  6. Drinking warm water increases blood circulation along with protecting internal organs from damage.

Parting Thought 

Cold or warm, it is essential for an individual to stay hydrated and healthy. What is more important is to pay attention to the increasing level of impurities in the water. Even if you drink normal water, ensure that you wait for 30 minutes after a meal before drinking water. No matter the temperature, drinking water has a positive impact on overall health.