First and foremost, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the temperature of everything you eat or drink can play a role in digestion – not just water. “Cold fluid actually slows down the entire digestive system by restricting blood flow to the stomach and intestines and slowing down the secretion of enzymes, which in turn can cause lymphatic stagnation and slower metabolism,” says Martha Soffer, founder of Surya Spa. “Room temperature and hot water, however, have the opposite effect, helping to increase circulation to your digestive system and stimulate your ‘agni’, or digestive fire.”
While a strong “agni” is generally associated with good general health, a weakened “agni” or digestive disorder can affect our ability to process food properly and cause toxins called “ama” to accumulate in Ayurveda, which can eventually lead to disease, says physician and integrated medicine Charles Elder, MD, MPH. Dr. Elder, who has studied Ayurveda, compares drinking ice water with a meal to throwing ice on an active fire: it is generally counterproductive and requires more energy on the part of the digestive tract to stay lit (that is, to works well).
“If you drink water that has about the same temperature as your body, you do not disturb the optimal state of the body or interfere with the absorption of food.” —Mira Manek, Ayurveda specialist
The Ayurvedic principles that guide the optimal temperature of drinking water are also rooted in maintaining homeostasis in the gut. “Hot water is easier to digest because it is closer to the temperature of your internal organs,” says Ayurveda expert Sahara Rose, author of Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary Plant-based Ayurvedic Cookbook. It is the same reason why Ayurveda expert Mira Manek suggests drinking water that is about 98 ° F and not much colder the warmer: “If you drink a liquid that has about the same temperature as your body, you do not disturb the optimal state of the body or do not interfere with the absorption of food.”
When it comes to medical research on whether cold or hot water aids (or impairs) digestion, there is some evidence that hot water may help promote bowel motility (also known as effective bowel movement). intestine) based on a small study monitoring the bowel movements of 60 patients who had recently undergone abdominal surgery. And another study comparing the effects of the gastrointestinal tract on food intake at different temperatures in 50 patients with functional indigestion (a condition that causes slower-than-normal movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine) found a similar acceleration benefit from consumption. hot in relation to cold species: Hot meals “significantly accelerated gastric emptying”. This is not indisputable evidence that hot water would also aid digestion in people without pre-existing conditions, but it does provide some basic evidence supporting Ayurveda’s practice of avoiding cold water.
In terms of basic hydration, however, there is probably not much additional benefit from consuming hot versus cold water. In fact, according to Go Ask Alice, a source at Columbia University, cold water actually leaves the stomach faster, allowing for faster hydration. And the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that water consumed before, during, and after exercise or sports be cooler than room temperature (less than 72 ° F), a research-supported position.
Torn? You can try drinking water at room temperature with and around meals and cooler water after exercise to see how you feel. But really, it may not matter all one way or another, says sports dietitian Marie Spano, MS, RD. “The most important thing is to drink whatever water temperature will encourage you to drink more of it.”
Originally published on September 20, 2018. Reported by Erica Sloan.
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