Each culture has its fair share of superstitions regarding food: tossing salt over your shoulder is good luck, eating greens on New Year’s Day brings good fortune, and garlic is a great vampire repellant. However, one of these superstitions may have truth to it, and that’s the belief that drinking cold water is bad for you. It may seem like an odd belief to hold—who doesn’t like a tall glass of ice-cold water after a long workout or during a hot summer’s day? It’s refreshing, and water is the healthiest drink you could possibly have, so why all the fuss?
As it happens, there are plenty of arguments for and against drinking an ice-cold glass of H2O as opposed to a room-temperature or hot glass. These arguments range from being based in health science to being based on tradition and culture. Whatever temperature it is, you may want to grab a glass while we delve into the controversial topic: is cold water bad for you? We at Lipsey would be more than happy to offer office water delivery in Atlanta for that crisp and clean spring water goodness.
Water Is Water
Before we specifically answer the question of whether or not drinking cold water is good for you, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: water is water, and so long as it’s clean, it will always be the healthiest choice. Unless you’re chugging boiling water, there is no temperature at which water will immediately harm you. When considering whether a glass of water is safe to drink, you should be far more concerned about potential pollutants rather than anything to do with temperature. If you find weird-colored water coming out of the tap, avoid drinking it and consider having springwater delivered to you instead. Springwater is generally a safe bet when it comes to avoiding pollutants, as springs are underground systems untouched by litter, but you should always be mindful of the immediate known dangers.
That said, different temperatures do bring out different qualities in water—positive and negative. So, what’s the difference between drinking cold water and drinking water at any other temperature?
Water is generally consumed cold when we really need it—during intense physical activities, extreme heat, and at 3 AM when you realize that you haven’t even looked at a bottle of water in two weeks. That said, being confronted with the question of “is cold water bad for you” might understandably raise some alarm. Let’s face it: it doesn’t feel nearly as refreshing to chug a bottle of water that’s been sitting in the sun all day as opposed to an insulated thermos filled half-and-half with ice and water.
However, as stated before, water is water, and there are benefits and drawbacks to drinking it cold.
Some of the benefits of drinking cold water are pretty obvious—we really cannot overstate how refreshing it is. Even small animals like rats have a preference for cold water due to the way it makes them feel. However, there are other benefits to be had as well. For instance, you may have heard that cold water speed up your metabolism. Though it isn’t the miracle diet strategy that many health bloggers once lauded it as it’s not entirely incorrect—a glass of cold water will, on average, burn eight calories when you drink it. This may seem minuscule, but if you drink several cups of water per day and pair it with a healthy diet and exercise, it’s possible that you could see faster results. Physical performance is also slightly boosted by cold water, which could make or break an athlete’s personal best.
However, the largest benefit circles right back around to the beginning: it’s just better at keeping you hydrated. It turns out that water that’s kept at around the same temperature as the cold water from your tap is the perfect temperature for optimal rehydration after a long workout, which means that the feeling of refreshment you get isn’t just a placebo.
So, this all seems fine so far. What’s the catch? So long as you’re human, there isn’t much of one to be found—though you may want to keep your mice fed with warm water instead. There are some older studies that say that cold water may restrict digestion, but they don’t hold up to modern literature. Again, your body only burns eight more calories drinking cold water as opposed to warm. This isn’t stunting your digestion by any drastic means, otherwise, we’d be seeing far more drastic results. There have also been studies done about cold water potentially causing headaches, but this seems to be more in reference to the “brain freeze” effect than anything else. All other references to cold water having some drastically negative health effect are cultural and/or anecdotal in nature—there is no current scientific evidence to back up the claim that cold water can give you a sore throat or a fever.
The only exception is if you have a certain medical condition called achalasia. Drinking cold water with this condition has been known to cause chest pain and a worsening of overall symptoms. So, in this case, it may be best to stick to warm or hot water in order to maintain a decent quality of life.
So, we’ve determined that the negative effects of cold water are negligible in most healthy adults, but what about water at other temperatures? Just as there are benefits of drinking cold water, there are benefits of drinking water at other temperatures, as well as respective drawbacks. So, if drinking cold water isn’t so bad for you after all, then is drinking water at any other temperature inherently worse? Or are they all around the same?
Room Temperature Water
We know, we know: who on earth would willingly drink water at room temperature? A surprising number of people, actually. As it happens, the average temperature of a glass of water is something of a matter of perspective, and though cold water is more intrinsically linked to a perception of quality, this may be because many countries where water is served at higher temperatures don’t have the infrastructure to cool it just yet.
In short: perhaps the bias against water at room temperature is a result of our bias as a “first world” country rather than any actual quality differences. This may be something to think about the next time you get a glass of cold water straight from your sink or run a cold shower to decompress in.
Apart from the benefits of a normal glass of water, there isn’t much to be said about room temperature water in terms of inherent benefits. There are a few anecdotes about room temperature water being better for digestion and a possible constipation aid, but these claims hold as much credence as the ones about cold water inhibiting digestion.
Speaking of digestion, however, there is some evidence to suggest that warm water can have an interesting effect on the amount of flatulence you produce. While this may not seem like an upside at all, it does have a place in recovering from certain intestinal procedures—specifically laparoscopic cholecystectomies.
We don’t think of water as having the capacity to “go bad,” but it absolutely can in the sense that bacteria, mold, and even insect larvae can eventually find their way in there. Keeping your water at room temperature won’t speed up the process, but it won’t exactly slow it down either. Even water that’s kept completely free of pathogens before being poured into your glass can eventually grow to cultivate them if left out long enough. As with food, water at room temperature will have a shorter “shelf life” than its colder counterparts.
Apart from that and the potential social repercussions, there are no major drawbacks to room temperature water to be found apart from what some may agree is an off-putting mouthfeel. Use your personal preference on this one.
We typically associate hot water with the creation of other drinks, such as coffee or tea. But what about just hot water on its own? Unlike room temperature water, hot water does seem to have a place in American culture, though in a more therapeutic manner than anything. So, since it’s used to help ease unpleasant symptoms, does that mean that hot water is the best form of water?
In groundbreaking news: hot water tends to generate steam. Steam from hot water has been shown time and again to have a relaxing effect on the human body, and this can be demonstrated best by drinking hot water while you have a cold. The raised temperature of your mouth combined with the steam can open your airways and help clear out stuffed sinuses, which can be a godsend while dealing with a cold.
Hot water also tends to soothe aches and pains in the body. Remember the study about achalasia? That same study also showed that warm or hot water can ease the aches, spasms, and pains caused by the condition, making it easier to conduct endoscopic procedures.
Beyond accidentally scalding yourself with water that’s too hot, you should be careful to avoid bottled water that’s been heated, particularly if it’s in a bottle that contains plastics. PET polymers commonly used to make plastic water bottles can begin to degrade at high temperatures, releasing toxins into the water and potentially causing health complications later down the line.
The same wisdom for room temperature water also applies—even if the impurities are removed through boiling, that doesn’t mean they can’t come back. Therefore, hot water is best drank in one sitting and from a ceramic or metal container in order to minimize any potential health risks.
What Temperature Water Is Best?
Water is still water. Though there are minimal health benefits and drawbacks to water at any temperature, the important aspects to keep in mind at any given time are whether your water is polluted or not and whether or not you’re drinking enough water to begin with. For the most part, the only part that temperature plays is determining whether or not someone likes the taste and how it feels to drink it—and even that can be variable depending on the context in which the water is being drunk in.
If you want to make sure your water is of good quality, there’s not much of a better way to do it than buying your water from a reputable bottling company. Sure, there are in-home filters for the tap, but then you have to ask where the tap came from in the first place. If you want high-quality bottled water that you can trust, our Atlanta bottled water delivery services may be for you. Our water comes straight from the underground springs of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it’s bottled in pharmaceutical-grade glass. And if your company is halved between cold water and hot water drinkers, worry not because our home and office water delivery services are sure to cater to their every need. Here at Lipsey, water quality isn’t a question; it’s a promise.