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!