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Drinking Cold Water is Bad for Digestion

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    Drinking Cold Water is Bad for Digestion

    So yesterday, I managed to get myself food poisoning. I'm not entirely sure how, but I suspect a bad piece of fruit was involved.
    Anyways, this morning, I'm heading out to buy some medicine, and I talk to the security guard at the front of my apartment complex. He asks me where I'm going, and I tell him what's up.
    Seeing the bottle of cold water in my hand, he warns me that I shouldn't drink it, as cold water will only give me the runs even worse. Instead, I should drink boiling hot water or tea.
    I've heard this a lot from Chinese people, that one shouldn't drink cold water. Traditionally, it seems that most people either didn't drink anything with meals, or drank something hot (such as hot tea).
    Now, I have to wonder: is there any evidence that drinking cold water is bad for you digestion, or is this just more ridiculous nonsense from traditional Chinese medicine? Has anyone ever done a study on this, like get ten people to only drink cold water for a week, another ten to only drink hot water, and see who's poop is nicer?

    #2
    I'm sure plenty others are thinking this, but the fear that cold water can make you sick is not unique to China. It's probably related to the fact that boiling water kills parasites.

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      #3
      I've heard this too, and have noticed some effects. Hot water--tea or not--can supposedly smooth out your bowels, so the story goes. Not sure if that means cold water is *bad*, per se, just that hot water is good...personally I love cold water to regulate my body temperature.

      I don't think it's just Chinese medicine...which is to say, it could be science, or it could be western-and-eastern shared BS. I'd like to know.

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        #4
        I've heard that cold water is not as good for hydration as room temp.
        The theory is that the cold causes the blood vessels surrounding stomach to shrink, slowing absorption.

        Sounds like a good theory to me.

        Also, I read about a tribe of natives in the Amazon who habitually drank very hot tea, and consequently were dying of throat cancer later in life.

        [/random facts of the day]

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          #5
          I was told your body metabolizes to warm up the cold water in your system.

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            #6
            I'm not sure about the digestion side of things, but from my stint at Jazz School as a singer (I failed and have since let my voice atrophy into a sub-Tom Waits mush, but that's another story) I learned that drinking cold water can have a 'shock' effect on the vocal chords.

            Hence the reason singers tend to drink either room-temperature or slightly warm water. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it does 'smooth' out the vocal chords a bit and it's just the thing for a cold day.

            I heard somewhere (don't quote me on this, as I'm not a Doctor) that water needs to be a certain temperate to be absorbed into your system, which is why room-temperature water is allegedly more affective for the purposes of hydration than cold water. That's something I'd be inclined to double-check, if only I weren't so lazy.

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              #7
              I have to go with Odacon here. If I add two pounds of water to my 170 pound body, how many seconds would it take until that water were room temperature? I can feel really cold water actually flow down my throat and settle in my empty stomach if I haven't eaten in a while, so I know it's not instantaneous, but I really doubt I could count to ten before it's 98.6. Perhaps a start would be to compare that to the amount of time water is in the stomach.

              Also, what percentage of water is absorbed by the stomach and what percentage is absorbed by the small intestine? I can pretty much guarantee whatever you drink is going to be body temperature by the time it gets past the pyloric sphincter.

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                #8
                Originally posted by MrGalt
                I have to go with Odacon here. If I add two pounds of water to my 170 pound body, how many seconds would it take until that water were room temperature? I can feel really cold water actually flow down my throat and settle in my empty stomach if I haven't eaten in a while, so I know it's not instantaneous, but I really doubt I could count to ten before it's 98.6. Perhaps a start would be to compare that to the amount of time water is in the stomach.

                Also, what percentage of water is absorbed by the stomach and what percentage is absorbed by the small intestine? I can pretty much guarantee whatever you drink is going to be body temperature by the time it gets past the pyloric sphincter.
                This all assumes the effects of the cold water disappear immediately after the water has warmed up. There are probably lingering effects.

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                  #9
                  Yeah, that's why eskimos always have the shits. Thanks for the sterling advice Mr. security guard, get back to us when you develop a cure for cancer while you're purusing porn in your booth there.

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                    #10
                    I think people get brain freeze from drinking ice-water too fast and think it must mean that cold water is poisonous. Yes, I really do think people are that stupid.

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                      #11
                      I can drink more room temp water than ice cold water. So for ME room temp water is better than cold water, doesn't mean it is for you!

                      Re throat cancer, Japanese people have high rates and drink plenty of scalding hot green tea and miso.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Echo Unit
                        This all assumes the effects of the cold water disappear immediately after the water has warmed up. There are probably lingering effects.
                        Are you suggesting that
                        A: The water "remembers" being cold after it no longer is, or
                        B: The water temperature has some sort of shock effect on the digestive system?
                        I'll give you a hint: one of those propositions is very silly.

                        Besides, the real subject of this is The Effects of Water Temperature on Poop. As such, we are really asking about intestinal effects, and I promise that cold water does not ever make it to your intestines.

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                          #13
                          Hmmmmmm....

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                            #14
                            This is prevalent in Indian culture as well - especially not drinking during eating. I have heard that it takes energy from the body to warm up the water - obviously - which is why it isn't recommended for thirsty people trapped on a mountain and why anorexics recommend always drinking your water ice cold. The only thing i could think of that would affect digestion is the diluting effect it might have on the stomach's enzymes.

                            My mother the nurse's words were "BAD is a very contested word - I'm more worried about does it take calories...no I have not heard anything that says drinking cold water is bad for digestion."

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by Thaiboxerken
                              I think people get brain freeze from drinking ice-water too fast and think it must mean that cold water is poisonous. Yes, I really do think people are that stupid.
                              Brain Freeze is serious business. Last night at a drink and watch shit blow up party, I got MASSIVE brain freeze twice off some fruity ass blended drink. Hands down THE most intense painful brain freeze I have ever had, no joke, each one lasted for like 40+ seconds, I was freaking out. I havent even got brain freeze in like a year, then BLAM. It fucks me in the ass (no homo).

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