Why drinking ice cold water can be harmful?

Soaring temperatures tempt us to reach out for that bottle of chilled water from the refrigerator to quench thirst and feel cooler. While cold water may seem to be satisfying to the parched  throat at that moment, its long term implications are not-so-pleasant. While Americans drink ice cold water with all meals, Chinese are known to drink hot tea with theirs. you know who is healthier!

Although there are not many studies to prove the drawbacks of ice cold water on overall health, some evidence , both scientific and anecdotal, point towards its incompatibility with human digestive system.

Lowers heart rate- In normal healthy people, iced water intake can lead to decrease in heart rate by stimulating the vagal reflex. This vagal reflex is influenced by the low temperature of the ice cold water. This type of nervous stimulation in individuals with heart disease may result in critical alterations in heart rate.

Impairs digestion- According to Ayurveda, the process of digestion in humans is aided by the digestive fire or agni . As the name suggests, this fire requires higher temperature conditions to function efficiently and so intake of extremely cold water during or after a meal can lead to alterations in temperature of the stomach contents leading to indigestion.

Impairs nutrient absorption- Drinking ice cold water may lead to solidification of fats in the meals thereby preventing their proper dispersion. This solidified fat will not be able to enter the cells and in fact coat some of the cells involved in nutrient absorption.

Only instance for its recommendation could be under circumstances where thirts has to be quenched using less amounts of water. For e.g. in patients on severe fluid restriction such as chronic kidney disease or congestive heart failure. They are allowed to drink measured amounts of fluids and hence are offered ice cubes to suck in order to quench thirst.

Overall effects of ice cold water do not seem to  be favourable for normal healthy individuals. So unless there is a real need for it, cold water can be avoided!


References :





Author: drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s