The world is made up of two types of people, simplistically speaking. Those who like their water warm and those who like to throw in plenty of ice cubes. Water plays an essential role in our well-being, from skin care to good digestion and even avoiding migraines, there is a lot that merely the consumption of water can fix. However, according to science, both ancient and modern, the temperature of water when it is consumed is critical as well.
From Ayurveda to ancient Chinese medicine, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that water is most beneficial when it is consumed warm. With that consensus, there are other aspects that need to be looked into, like when, how much and why. Let’s take them up one by one:
Timing is key
I recently spent a weekend at an Ayurvedic Spa Resort where the meals were prepared and served following the (many) rules of Ayurveda. The most noticeable difference between dining in the restaurant there and dining anywhere else, was that the server always inquired whether you preferred warm water with your meal or regular water. This is a basic principle of Ayurveda, which recommends the consumption of a cup of warm water alongside your meals.
Meals in China or Japan are always accompanied by warm tea. This isn’t the masala tea that we may be used to. Instead, it is hot water with just a few leaves of green tea or some other leaf tea. My in-laws went on a month-long trip where they traveled across China, mostly by train. The one thing that they loved was that everyone carried an empty thermos and the trains had taps where one could refill hot drinking water from. Throw in a few tea leaves and sip it over time.
For centuries, people in Japan have been following the ritual of ‘Water Cure’. This entails drinking 4 glasses of water every morning right after you wake up, even before you brush your teeth. What is important is that this water must not be cold.
How much is advised?
The amount of water one should consume depends on various factors like age, activity levels, weather, diet, etc. However, there are some broad guidelines that may be followed. If consumed along with your meals, approximately one cup is good enough. Having said that, if the meal includes dishes like soup or yoghurt, this amount may be reduced. The ideal amount to consume is important to understand as too much water with your meals may also satiate your hunger before you have eaten enough, and thus rob you of the opportunity to consume nutrients.
As mentioned before, if had on an empty stomach in the morning, four glasses are what the Japanese Water Therapy recommends. If it sounds like a lot, start with one glass and increase it to four, over time.
Health benefits of warm water
1. Prevents constipation
Intestinal movement is important to avoid bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort. Dr. Rupali Datta suggests that having warm water is great for internal ‘cleansing’. It regulates bowel movement and prevents constipation.
2. Great for glowing skin
Drinking warm water raises your body’s temperature and helps release toxins. This detoxification, is great for glowing skin and unclogged pores.
3. Stimulates hunger
Anju Sood, a Bengaluru based nutritionist elaborates, “When you have warm water, the body has to work harder to bring down its temperature. Thus, the metabolic system is kicked off.” This further triggers the mind to demand food and stimulates hunger.
4. Aids digestion
Dr. Sood says that drinking warm water early in the morning helps boost liver and kidney functions. “If you ask a nutritionist what is the primary organ of the body, she will inevitably say it is the liver as all metabolism happens via the liver. Warm water plays a vital role in breaking down food substances and thus aids digestion.”
5. Helps clear out congestion
Though avoiding cold water when you have a sore throat may largely be an Indian old wife’s tale (many parts of the world do not even recognize this concept), it is indisputable that warm water helps