Why Ice-Cold Water Is Not Good For Your Health

Why Ice-Cold Water Is Not Good For Your Health

The Ayurveda Experience August 29, 2022

Do you often feel like grabbing a bottle from the refrigerator to quench your thirst? Drinking a glass of cold water can often feel like taking a walk on the beach on a hot summer day. Stop and ask yourself, do your organs feel the same way? According to Ayurveda, it is a big resounding no! While the oh-so-cool feeling lasts just a few seconds, it can take a substantial toll on your body if consumed regularly.

Cold water can extinguish agni

According to ayurvedic principles, an essential pillar of the swastha (good health) is the body's agni (digestive fire). Jathara agni (central digestive fire) plays a significant role in governing the body's metabolism and is also the gatekeeper of life.

As one of the most important of the 13 agnis in the body, jathara agni is present in the stomach and duodenum. It mainly digests complex food and divides it into prasad (essentials) and kitta (waste material).

A balanced agni also helps eliminate unwanted materials from the body that would affect our physical and mental well-being. It also allows the body to process everything we take through the Panchaindirya (five senses):

  • Shotra (hearing)
  • Sparshana (touch)
  • Chakshu (fire)
  • Rasana (taste)
  • Ghraana (smell)

Now imagine throwing a bucket full of water on a burning campfire. Not only would the fire extinguish immediately, but the wood logs would also rot over time and never decompose. It is precisely what happens when we drink cold water or iced drinks. The agni (fire) in our body immediately goes out, producing toxins or ama.

Ama is the collection of toxins in the form of undigested food that inflame and irritate the functioning of the intestinal lining. The lining acts as a protective barrier. Sometimes, ama can even find its way into the body's circulatory system through tissues. It creates a blockage and can make the body a breeding ground for parasites, bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

According to ayurvedic principles, any kind of blockage in body channels (respiratory system, cardiovascular system) results in an imbalance of the doshas. Increased production of toxins in the body is a precursor to several ailments affecting our manas (psychology).

A weakened agni also leads to bloating, flatulence, and sluggishness with lower energy to perform day-to-day activities. In contrast, a balanced or strong agni ensures healthy elimination of waste and heightened energy, thus aiding ojas (vitality) production. Ayurvedic principles state that we must consume water closer to our internal body temperature, which is 210 F (98.6 degrees Celsius). Moreover, according to a study conducted in 1980, agni has to work hard to maintain the body's internal temperature when one consumes cold water.

Read more: Ayurveda Basics: Agni, the Digestive Fire Stages of Agni

Scientific Support

Ayurvedic principles are deep-rooted in history and are increasingly accepted as the foundational pillars of human physiology. Research across the globe also backs the ayurvedic belief of not consuming ice-cold water.

  • For those suffering from achalasia — a condition that makes swallowing food and water difficult, a 2012 study highlights that drinking cold water worsened symptoms while warm water provided a soothing and relaxing effect on throat muscles.
  • study conducted in 2001 also suggested that drinking cold water increased the chances of headaches and migraines in some people.
  • Nasal mucous became thicker and more difficult to pass through the respiratory tract with the consumption of cold water, according to another research conducted in 1978.
  • Chinese traditional medicine also emphasizes that consuming cold water with hot food creates an imbalance within the body. For this purpose, the Chinese ensure that they serve all meals with warm water or hot tea.

Busting myths

“Drink cold water to lose weight faster” - fitness buffs often recommend consuming cold water as it encourages the body to burn more calories. While this is true in the short run, it does more harm than good over time. In fact, drinking ice-cold water creates dosha imbalances within the body, ultimately resulting in weight gain.

Acharya Vagbhata, the influential ayurvedic advisor, also observed that warm water quenches thirst faster than cold water. For this reason, drinking warm water is actually recommended post-workouts. Contrary to popular belief, ice-cold water slows down metabolism, defeating all benefits of exercise.

Doshas and the effect of water

By its very nature, water has a cold quality. Since Kapha dosha is cold by nature, water tends to increase our body’s Kapha. It is therefore advisable to boil water for about ten minutes to decrease water’s Kapha-increasing tendency.

Boiling water also helps kill germs and bacteria present in it. Remember, warm water strengthens the body’s agni while balancing Vata and Pitta doshas.

Changing rutus (seasons) affect the balances of the tridoshas. According to Ayurvedic studies,

  • Shitodak water (cold water) pacifies the Pitta when consumed in appropriate quantities.
  • Taptashit water (boiled and cooled) is laghu (easy to digest) in nature.
  • Ushnodak water (hot water) is dipan (enhancing metabolism).

Ayurveda also recommends that people suffering from Pitta Vikruti should consume water at room-temperature, and not boiling water. As warm or hot water may exacerbate their Pitta. Such individuals can also opt for coconut water, aloe water, or warm water with fresh peppermint leaves.

Do not know your dosha yet? Click here to take a 3-minutte quiz and know your dosha.

Understanding Shitodak and Ushnodak

Ayurvedic scholar Acharya Vagbhat has defined the properties of Shitodak water at length.

The primary use of Shitodak (cold water) is for:

  • Madataya (alcohol consumption)
  • Bhram (vertigo)
  • Vish (poison)
  • Rakpitt (blood disorder)
  • Daha (burning sensation)

An excess intake of cold water can aggravate the Pitta and Kapha doshas. It may result in tandra (hallucinations), shvas (breathing disorders), hrullas (nausea), gaurav (heaviness) or even aadhman (flatulence).

The benefits of drinking warm water

Acharya Vagbhat, in the classical Ashtanga Hridaya, explains the attributes of ushna jala (warm water) in chapter five. He states that warm water has the properties of deepana (stimulating hunger), laghu (easily digestible), kanthya (helping the throat), pachana (aiding digestion), and basti shodhana (cleansing the bladder).

Ayurveda recommends the consumption of lukewarm or hot water. The reason behind it is simple - hot water clears the digestive tract, hydrates the system, and stimulates the lymphatic system in the body.

Primarily, hot water strengthens the digestive fire (agni) in the pachaka (stomach) and helps the ranjaka (digestive enzymes) thrive. On the other hand, lukewarm water enhances the ahara rasa (nutrient fluid) in the digestive tract.

Some key benefits of drinking hot or lukewarm water are:

  • Increases metabolic activity in the body
  • Vasodilates the body's srotas (circulatory system) and helps support better blood circulation
  • Allows you to clear a white-coated tongue if you drink it before bedtime
  • Helps avoid ailments such as cough, cold, asthma, and allergies
  • Excellent sore throat remedy
  • Reduces the frequency of flu or cold

Read more: When to drink hot water | When and How to drink water as per Ayurveda?

According to a study, boiling water for varying amounts of time has innumerable benefits.

  • Water boiled and reduced to three-fourths its quantity pacifies the Vata. It is apt during the winter and rainy seasons.
  • Water boiled and reduced to half its pacifies the Pitta. It is also advisable when a person is suffering from fever, cold or sore throat. Winter and spring are ideal seasons for the consumption of this water.
  • Water boiled and reduced to one-fourth of its quantity is light and pacifies the Kapha. It aids digestion and stimulates appetite. It is apt during the summer and early autumn.

Takeaway

The temperature of the water we drink affects our body in more ways than we can imagine. So why not consume water for our health and not just to quench thirst? When it is tempting to reach out for a glass of ice-cold water, remember the benefits of warm water and choose a healthier lifestyle — the Ayurveda lifestyle!

References

  • https://www.easyayurveda.com/2010/08/19/drinking-hot-water-benefits-what-ayurveda-says/
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319011744_ASSESSMENT_OF_QUALITY_OF_WATER_AS_PER_AYURVEDA_AND_INDIAN_STANDARDS_ON_DRINKING_WATER
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1433604/
  • https://ayurmantra.com/warm-water-and-its-health-benefits-according-to-samhitas.html
  • https://www.jnmjournal.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.5056/jnm.2012.18.4.391
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11442559/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/359266/
  • https://ijpmr.org/pdf/IJPMR-06.pdf
  • https://gsayurvedamedicalcollege.com/images/articles/Shital%20Chinchalkar_Annals%20of%20Ayurvedic%20Medicine%20Vol-9%20Issue-3%20Jul.-Sep.,%202020.pdf
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344014047_USHNODAK_OR_SHITODAK_WHICH_IS_MORE_BENEFICIAL
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1433604/

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in The Ayurveda Experience

Interesting Recommendation About Water Intake As Per Ayurveda
eye

Interesting Recommendation About Water Intake As Per Ayurveda

Ancient texts say one should drink water as per the requirements of the body. Interestingly, ther...

The Ayurveda Experience

eye
Why And How To Reset Your Body Clock As Per Ayurveda
eye

Why And How To Reset Your Body Clock As Per Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, people should be asleep before 10 pm, because this is when Pitta time kick...

The Ayurveda Experience

eye
Ayurveda's take on Skin Exfoliation
eye

Ayurveda's take on Skin Exfoliation

A constant buildup of dead skin, oil, sebum, and pollutants can make the skin lose its luster and...

The Ayurveda Experience

eye