Slimming aid and metabolism booster: Drinking warm water instead of cold water is said to have numerous benefits. But what is it really—myth or truth?
How does a cup of warm water instead of coffee in the morning sound? It takes some getting used to. However, this is not the case for everyone, as there are cultural differences in drinking water quality and proverbial opinions.
In Asian countries, especially in China and India, it is customary to drink hot or warm water straight, as it is considered very healthy according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. In contrast, cold water is frowned upon in our part of the world, where its primary use is as a summertime thirst quencher. Drinking water is also generally regarded as a metabolism booster. Our exercise and nutrition plan is even more convincing:
Does consuming warm water offer any advantages, though? We inquired of general and nutritional medicine specialist Dr. Burkhard Jahn: Is it true that drinking warm water promotes health?
Which is better for you: drinking cold or hot water?
Water is healthy; that much is clear to everyone. A regular and sufficient water intake is the basis for the smooth running of all bodily functions; in other words, water keeps the human machine running because it is an essential fuel in your body. Does temperature play such a significant role?
Our expert, Dr. Jahn, says, “I have been drinking one or two cups of hot water after getting up for years.” “At some point, I got out of drinking coffee and switched to water.”
He came to this via traditional Indian medicine, better known as Ayurveda. There, drinking warm water is considered healing and very healthy. The warmth supports the so-called Agni, the digestive fire, in its work. “It is also simply enjoyable to drink something warm in the morning,” says the nutritionist and author (“Der gesunde Mensch”).
What is the ideal temperature for drinking water?
We often read that cold water must first be brought to “operating temperature” (37 degrees body temperature) in the body, which is said to cost a lot of energy. Warm beverages are considered a better option in the summer to relieve thirst. However, a statement by Justus Liebig University Giessen on “drinking on hot days” takes a closer look at these theories and emphasizes that there is no scientific evidence for this claim. When you consume cold liquids, your digestive tract warms passively rather than actively. This means that our body temperature drops minimally and adapts. The same counter-regulation occurs when we drink warm water, which is normal.
Lukewarm drinks around 37 degrees mean the least “effort” for the body and are, therefore, the most digestible. But refreshing beverages are also a great way to beat the heat in the summer. However, an ice-cold drink is not recommended as it can lead to stomach cramps.
What can warm water do to the body?
Warm water is said to have miraculous properties in many articles circulating on the Internet. Two headlines are “Why warm water makes you more beautiful than cold water” and “The simplest medicine: drink warm water.” Warm water is said to rid the body of toxins, relieve pain, improve circulation and even help you lose weight. There are no studies or expert opinions to back up these claims.
There is talk, for example, that drinking warm water makes it easier to dissolve fat from food, thereby actively supporting weight loss. “Absolute nonsense,” says nutritionist Jahn, unaware of any scientific basis for such claims.
But drinking your water warm is still a trick that can have a tremendous effect. There are a few things about drinking warm water that we don’t want to withhold from you:
- Warm water gets the circulation going optimally
A glass of water in the morning on an empty stomach stimulates the metabolism. “Ayurveda says that warm water acts like a shower from the inside,” says our expert. “That’s a good comparison, because a shower in the morning also gets our body going and cleanses it from the outside. A glass of warm water therefore has an additional cleansing effect from the inside.”
Doesn’t a glass of cold water also provide a metabolic boost? “It’s certainly difficult to prove scientifically, but I would recommend warm water in the morning, as it’s much more pleasant,” says Jahn. With a thermal mug, you can keep your water nice and warm, even when out and about. The best metabolism booster is our training and nutrition plan.
- warm water stimulates digestion and prevents constipation
Maintaining proper digestion requires drinking water regularly. “The amount you drink plays a vital role in digestion,” says Dr. Jahn. Water stimulates intestinal peristalsis and thus supports regular bowel movements. Drinking water regularly, therefore, definitely prevents constipation.
But does the water have to be warm? Not necessarily, but studies have shown the antispasmodic and soothing effect of warm water on the bowel, especially in the context of reducing spasms (cramps) during colonoscopies.
“Warm water is also simply more pleasant to drink, and perhaps the drinking temperature also encourages some people to drink more,” says the nutritionist. If plain water tastes too bland, add a slice of lemon or cucumber. Also delicious and super healthy: warm ginger water. The right way to prepare it.
- Warm water can relieve pain.
Many people reach for a hot water bottle for stomach aches, flatulence or cramps, as the warm water or heat has a relaxing and vasodilating effect. It can also work just as well from the inside. According to an Indian review, a cup of hot water can help to relax tense muscles and nerves. Hot water has a specific feel-good internal and external effect, which you can easily take advantage of without a prescription or side effects. However, if the pain persists, consult a doctor.
However, it is best to add a few herbs and prepare an herbal tea, such as the well-known fennel-aniseed-caraway tea, for stomach aches and the like. According to studies, fennel and caraway have an antispasmodic effect and are traditionally used for digestive problems.
- Hot water is beneficial for colds.
Drinking warm water regularly in the morning cannot prevent colds or ward off viruses. But holding your nose over hot water (or tea) can relieve your stuffy nose. The steam from the hot water, and of course the water itself, keeps the mucous membranes moist, which is always recommended as a supportive treatment for colds.
An older study also investigated whether hot drinks positively affect runny noses and other cold symptoms. Objectively, no significant improvement could be measured (airflow in the nose). Still, subjectively, the test subjects experienced immediate relief from coughs, colds, sore throats, chills and tiredness after drinking hot tea.
Is hot water better than coffee in the morning?
There is no general answer to this question, as the reasons why people reach for coffee in the morning vary greatly. Dr. Jahn suspects that some people may find the soothing warmth of coffee in the morning more pleasant than the caffeine. Therefore, a cup of tea or a mug of warm water can have the same warming effect.
According to our expert, a hot drink in the morning is therefore always a good choice, including coffee, as it is anything but unhealthy. “Coffee has long since lost its bad reputation and can be described as a healthy food,” says Jahn. The main reason is the coffee bean’s secondary plant substances, such as polyphenols, which have been proven to provide health benefits.
So, nobody has to give up their beloved coffee in the morning. “Anyone who enjoys drinking coffee can continue to do so with a clear conscience.” Dr. Jahn recommends simply drinking warm water in addition to coffee.
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