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Ask the experts: Water temperature

Q: "Recently I was told that water hydrates you differently depending on what temperature it is. Some people I know only drink room temperature water because they think chilled water is bad for you because it 'shocks your system', which I find hard to believe. Can you please tell me the difference (if any) between ice cold water, warm water and room temperature water in regards to the effect on our bodies?"

Carmine

A: Nutritionist Cindy Williams comments:

"Cold water tends to pass through the stomach and into the intestine faster but the volume and composition of a drink have a far greater effect on absorption rate than temperature. For athletes, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that drinks should be cooler than room temperature – around 15-21C. This is because cold drinks have a cooling effect on the body and are more palatable, which helps athletes, or anyone, to drink more.

A study of people with swallowing difficulties found that drinking hot water with meals helped move the food down into the stomach more quickly with less swallowing problems compared with cold water. Another study found that drinking cold water may affect some people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I could find no studies on ice cold water 'shocking' the body but some people with a sensitive digestive system may find cool rather than ice cold water easier to handle. It's very individual. 

Drinking plenty of water each day is important for good health. Drink it at whatever temperature tastes best to you, and encourages you to drink enough."