Cold vs. Hot Water: Turning Up the Heat on Digestion

"Do you want to put your water in the fridge?" Dad posed this question as he handed me a freshly-filled water flask.

During a recent holiday, my husband and I visited my dad and stepmother. Upon arrival, they provided us both with sturdy stainless steel bottles to keep filtered water in throughout our visit. Brightly colored ones so no one grabbed the wrong person's bottle while hydrating.

But the question Dad proffered opened the door to a quick conversation: Which is better for the body? Hot or cold water? More importantly, for someone with an IBD, does it matter?

Hot water vs. cold water for better digestion?

So, this inquiring mind kicked in. I began a quick Google search and discovered many health and wellness articles existed on this subject. Granted, no "real" medical research exists on whether cold or hot water improves (or hinders) digestion. Small studies have occurred following patients' post-abdominal surgery. But no clear-cut proof informs one way or the other.

On the other hand, if I look at ancient medicinal practices out of India or China, they believe that cold water consumption isn't good for the body. They believe cold liquids tend to slow down the digestive process by constricting blood flow and, in turn, slowing one's metabolism. The ancients posset that warm water helps digestion better because the temperature closer resembles one's internal organs. I could see how my internal organs might shudder at ice water coursing through my body.

More importantly, as one currently going through the perimenopause process, I can't afford to slow my metabolism. My meno-belly pooch and weight gain signal that now is not the time to exacerbate a slowing metabolism. Still, I wondered.

Well, why not experiment? Why not see if warm water makes the difference?

Experimenting with hot water and IBD

But I have to be careful. My colitis dragon (I promise "dragon" is a term of endearment) already knows to avoid coffee and hot tea. Both beverages signal my gut to send out diarrhea troops post haste. So, this experiment would require a softer... purer approach.

Enter hot water and lemon.

During the past week, I drink both room-temperature water and the hottest water I can get out of the tap. I throw in some lemons. To be honest, I'm quite pleased with not only the taste but also the calming effect on my system. Actually, I prefer hotter water over room temperature, but sometimes water lingers at my workstation and naturally cools.

In either version, I'm testing for information I discovered in my small "research." Will room temperature/hot water soothe and aid in digestion? Will it relieve nasal congestion during these snotty winter months? Might it help rid my body of toxins like a good sweat does? Could it possibly prevent my mid-life belly bloat? Will it help me sleep better at night? Finally, will I feel fewer aches and pains and less anxiety throughout my day? While pouring over articles, I noted these benefits from various sources.

Does water temperature really matter for digestion?

But the reality is that each body is different. Therefore, how my body reacts might be different from other folks.

Please stay tuned! I'll update at a later time and share my hot water results. Hopefully, the heat ramps up my metabolism and also silences my colitis dragon. Besides, it's about time I douse heat of my own making on the colitis dragon instead of the other way around. He needs to be snuffed out.

So, excuse me while I go heat up another mug of hot water and lemon...

If you can offer any experience on this somewhat "tepid" debate, please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, and results. This thirsty mind wants to know.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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