Why Cold Water Is Bad For You

We all know the importance of hydration — finding creative ways to aim for that 8+ glasses of water per day. But have you ever thought about how the temperature of said water can play on your health?

This post comes from Miann Scanlan

Over the past few months, I’ve made several discoveries about and adapting practices from Ayurveda. One that initially surprised me, but then – just like everything in Ayurveda (i.e. making sense) — water or beverages should not be ingested IF THEY ARE COLD. Huh?

Let me set the scene for you:

It was midday in the middle of a scorching Australian summer, and I was in Byron Bay for a yoga festival. After finishing an hour of power vinyasa in the hot sun, I immediately grabbed a chilled bottle of water before setting off for an introductory seminar on Ayurveda. I was curious to hear what all the fuss was about.

We sat on the floor in a room while Jay Mulder, otherwise known as Eumundi Medicine Man, explained that the key principle of Ayurvedic health depends on your ability to properly and efficiently digest what you ingest. He explained that balancing your digestive agni (the “fire” that drives digestion and metabolism) is the reason Ayurveda recommends such a number of practices for better digestion like spices, food combining, and eating according to body type and the season.

Jay then used the fire analogy to properly explain how to apply the philosophy to our physiology: Digestive agni can be compared to a burning fire. If the flame is very low, then it will take a long time to cook the food. In the same token, if the fire is too big, it can burn the food. If we put a huge log on a low fire, the fire will be extinguished.

Which brought him to consider the point of ingesting hot, warm, and room temperature liquids versus chilled. As I was about to take a huge gulp of my ice-cold water, he explained that essentially, I was throwing cold water on the burning logs inside me, extinguishing my digestive fire almost entirely.

So, how does it all work?

When cold water hits the stomach, the body is forced to use energy in order to warm up that liquid inside your body to match that of the body’s natural temperature. This robs your body of the energy it needs to properly process what you have ingested. Instead of working to extract all the foods nutrients, your digestive system is instead working on regulating the temperature of the cold drink.

Studies also indicate that the problem with cold water is that, as the liquid passes through your system, the cool temperature solidifies fats from the foods we’ve eaten and therefore makes it harder to digest the unwanted fats from our stomach.

Once you get into the habit of drinking water at room temperature or even warm, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your digestion and the way your body feels during and after the meal. I’ve even found that it curbs sugar cravings – bonus! 


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Wow, I never thought of that! Good to know!

8 years ago

I have never tried hot lemon water, i always used to do it with cold water, but I’m open to try new things so thanks for letting me know :)


My mother in law told me this a few years ago. It is a little odd at first but I always have room temp water around the house.


8 years ago

While this is very interesting..ever since I was little i’ve never been able to drink any beverage at room temperature..If I even attempt to drink water that is room temperature, I gag. I have to have ice in my water.

8 years ago

When I danced ballet a lot I had a teacher that discouraged cold drinks because she believed they would make us ill. I mean, we’re all hot and sweaty, so dumping ice into the system would shock our bodies too much, right? I never realized WHY this could happen though. Thanks to this post I am even more convinced. I don’t even like ice water anymore.

8 years ago

3-4 times a week, first thing in the morning I put a spoonful of apple cider in a mug of hot water & drink it- it really helps to clean your liver & digestive system.

8 years ago

I’ve always preferred room-temperature water, I never warm water was the better option; it is just the way I like it. I love drinking warm water with lemon in the morning before eating or doing anything else, it’s a great way to curb coffee/caffeine cravings (for anyone trying to kick the habit) and it does wonders for the skin and overall body. I’ve also found that having an ACV cocktail a couple times a day is a great way to cleanse the system and further boost the power of water.

DW | http://www.daundra.com/blog

8 years ago

I would be really appreciative for links to the studies that have suggested that the ingestion of cold water is detrimental to our health. I love drinking cold water, so I was alarmed to read this. I have not been able to find any peer reviewed medical research that supports this finding – only that it may burn a few extra calories as our body brings the cold liquid down to body temperature.

8 years ago

Miann, love this. My mom has been teaching me different ayurvedic ways and I’ve been slowly incorporating them into my lifestyle. Room temperature water (with lemon!! especially when I wake) is one of them. Thank you for sharing your knowledge here — so many benefit, especially with a larger audience and the many people you can reach:) xoxo

8 years ago

Jillian if the research your are finding shows that extra calories (energy) are in fact being burnt to bring down the temperature of the ice water, then there is your proof. The philosophy of Ayurveda is that health stems from optimum digestion and we should eat in a way to help the body properly digest what we ingest, keeping the bowel and colon clean from toxins, extracting nutrients from the food…. health doesn’t equate to burning calories.

8 years ago

As a cook at an outdoor retreat, I have served so many Asian Groups and they eat everything that is put out. One day a lady came to me, she was older and slim and said to me, “Yes we eat everything, but we never get fat”. I said, “Yes, I noticed that”! Her answer was that they drink hot tea during the meal so the fat gets dissolved….most North Americans have cold drinks with their meal and I believe it doesn’t allow the fat to dissolve nearly as well.

8 years ago

I live in Germany and at home it´s totally common to drink everything at room temperature. Only in restaurants you get cold drinks.

8 years ago

What kind of tarot card do you have there? I love that lion–so beautiful!

8 years ago

Could you link the studies that show this?

8 years ago

How does burning a few extra calories, to warm up the water, equate to bad digestion? Once it’s warm in there, it’s warm, ya know? I’m not trying to bash here, I tend to play devil’s advocate. But I also like to have more then, it burns calories… I myself tend to drink water at room temp most of the time.

8 years ago

Also would like to point out that hot water/tea to dissolve the fat is not accurate as well, for those stating as such. The gallbladder is a main component in dealing with fats in the stomach to be digested. It’s an enzyme that breaks down the fat not temperature. In fact, without a healthy gallbladder, fat that gets into your stomach quickly melts to body temperature and coats carbs and proteins which then hinders the digestive process. And FYI, having some fat is good for you, in fact, necessary. So I’ll end with this; if you want healthy digestion, give yourself the proper AMOUNT of water and nutrients so that your organs can do their jobs.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jessi

My exact thoughts, but you used all the correct words

8 years ago

Have a peek at this if you’re terribly concerned about it. http://gut.bmj.com/content/29/3/302.full.pdf Especially the results section. You can drink a 4 degrees Celsius drink and within 45 seconds of it hitting the stomach, the mean minimal temperature attained is 21 degrees Celsius. And you’re back to normal (aka 37 degrees Celsius within 20 minutes after) I wouldn’t worry about it too much. But to each their own.

8 years ago

To each their own, and if you prefer room temperature water that is totally fine, but as others have said, this idea that cold water is bad for you hasn’t been proven. I really think this post is a little alarmist.

8 years ago

The fire inside our body notion is interesting. Thank you for sharing it.

8 years ago

Great article! It is also recommended to not drink any water or other liquid source 1/2 – 1 hr prior and after eating. Following the above, will assist with the digestion process.

8 years ago

You said “Studies also indicate that the problem with cold water is that as the liquid passes through your system, the cool temperature solidifies fats from the foods we’ve eaten and thus the body in turn finds it hard to digests the unwanted fats from our stomach.”

What studies? The fat solidification is debunked in several places i found in 1 minute of googling:



8 years ago

Well, this is depressing. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to really go in the morning after getting up. Not to give too much information, I’m sorry.

I’ve grown up drinking cold water though… UGH this is hard to try and change but if it’s for the better then I shall work hard at it!

Thank you so much for sharing this article.

8 years ago

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that cold water has any adverse effects on your body whatsoever, under nearly any circumstances. I implore people to not take this article too seriously. If you want to stick to room temperature or hot drinks because it makes you like to, then do that. But don’t do it for health reasons. Far from being dangerous, cold water is probably the healthiest thing you can drink. Water is one of the healthiest drinks in general, and cold water is actually a very minor calorie-burner (you can find the science behind that online, I won’t bother posting it here).

It takes more than slightly chilled liquid to destroy the human body. Otherwise, we would have far more important things to worry about.

8 years ago

Rubbish does cold water harm you what ever next and I do speak with a high level of medical knowledge. Believe me people if you enjoy it you will be only be doing your body good not harm. I am 66 and have been drinking 1 litre of very cold water every day and feel good on it and have no intention of stopping.

7 years ago

This is baloney, and another example of shoddy internet scaremongering. This is absolutely no truth to the claims of this article In fact, it has been debunked by snopes: http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/coldwater.asp as well as the medical profession.

FP loses all credibility by publishing such unsubstantiated crap.