Our family’s new home has a kitchen appliance that has sparked a debate I hadn’t thought about in some time. You see, our refrigerator has a handy dandy ice-and-water dispenser right on the door, a feature we’d lived without thus far in our lives but seems to be in use more than not now that we have it. The debate that’s come with this luxury is:
Which is better, ice water or room temperature water?
My hubby and our boys are of the icy school of thought. I’m not talking about just a couple of cubes either. They pretty much fill their glass with ice and then let the water fill in the nooks and crannies around it. My Californian sister is much the same, which I found out one hot afternoon when she was visiting.
I’ve been drinking room temperature water for years now, based on a suggestion from someone or something I read. I can’t remember exactly who told me this was the way to go, but it must have been a credible, or at least logical, source. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have integrated it into my daily life so readily.
The heat of summer has me questioning this philosophy though. Does it really matter if a person drinks their water with ice in it versus at room temperature? Since I can’t tell you the pros and cons of either off the top of my head, it appears this is a topic this self-healther needs to revisit. Let’s take a look at each case, shall we.
Okay, so what’s the story with ice/cold water? As you might expect, drinking cold water helps bring you body temperature down when you elevate it by exerting yourself physically or spending a lot of time in the heat. In these situations cold water can offer relief quickly.
If you drink cold water when your body temperature isn’t elevated, it’s often been said, then your body has to work harder to get back to its normal temperature, revving up your metabolism and helping with weight loss. However, there is little evidence behind this claim. One study back in 2006 showed that cold water might cause a slight increase in metabolism, but if so, it’s minimal, like 8 calories burned per cup of water, which isn’t going to make much of a difference. Drinking water of any temperature in place of sugary beverages will have a much bigger impact on your weight loss efforts.
The downside to cold water is that it constricts your blood vessels, including those involved in digestion. Drinking cold water when your body is trying to digest what you’ve eaten can slow down the process and make it harder for your body to do what it needs to do. To avoid this, be choosy about when you drink cold water. Pretty simple.
That’s the news about ice water. So what about room temperature or warm water—is it better? In this investigation I’m reminded of some of the points that were made to me years ago when I decided room-temp water would be my beverage of choice.
First, remember that cold water hampers your digestive system. That’s a strong case for room temperature water consumption right there. Moreover, if you bump the temperature up a few degrees and drink your water warm, it helps your body break down the foods you eat faster, making digestion easier for your body.
Warm water can also relieve pains you are experiencing and improve circulation. When you choose a warm beverage of any kind, in fact, it has a relaxing effect on your body—including your muscles. (If you think about sitting down with a cup of herbal tea, I bet you’ll feel an immediate sense of relaxation.) So the next time you have a headache, try making yourself a cup of herbal tea or even warm water as your first remedy. It just might surprise you.
I realize I’ve veered into talking about warm water, not room temperature water, but you get the point: the warmer the water, the more soothing to the body. That said, be careful not to drink your water too warm. In case you were unaware, hot water can burn you. 😉
Of course there are many other considerations when it comes to water consumption, and we’ve talked about lots of them here at Selene River Press. For instance:
- Knowing how much you, personally, should drink each day is worth figuring out. There is no one size fits all answer!
- Storing your water in the healthiest container possible will keep you from ingesting substances that do more harm than good.
- Making sure your water is coming from the best source will get you that much closer to your optimal health goals.
The moral of this story, I would say, is just drink water. Period. If you like it cold, go for it (just not when you’re eating). If you like it at room temperature, more power to you. Rather than thinking of one as better than the other, choose the one that will keep you sipping throughout the day. After all, you could survive for weeks without food, but a lack of water —regardless of its temperature—would doom you within just a few days.
Image from iStock/naruedom.