We all know that staying hydrated is an important component of good health. However, should we be drinking more hot water? While more studies need to be done to gather more evidence, some holistic health advocates have recommended the health benefits of drinking hot water on a regular basis.
While most health benefits of hot water are based on anecdotal reports, as there has not been enough scientific research in this area, many people feel benefits from this remedy, especially first thing in the morning or right before bed.
When drinking hot beverages, research recommends an optimal temperature of between 130 and 160°F (54 and 71°C). Temperatures above this can cause burns or scalds.
For an extra health boost and some vitamin C, try adding a twist of lemon to hot water to make lemon water.
In any case, water, whether hot or cold is good for our health, so there is no harm in trying out the hot water theory for ourselves. Here are some benefits that those who partake in this practice report.
- As a aid to digestion
Some believe that drinking hot water is especially effective for activating the digestive system.
The theory is that hot water helps to break down food faster than drinking cold or warm water. It reduces the risk of constipation by supporting regular bowel movements.
2. As a detox
Natural health advocates argue that hot water might help the body detoxify. When water is hot enough to raise a person’s body temperature, it can cause sweating. Sweating expels toxins and can help clean the pores.
3. Relieving nasal congestion
A cup of hot water creates steam. Holding a cup of hot water and taking a deep inhale of this gentle vapour may help loosen clogged sinuses and even relieve a sinus headache.
Since you have mucous membranes throughout your sinuses and throat, drinking hot water may help warm that area and soothe a sore throat caused by mucus buildup.
According to an older 2008 study, a hot drink, such as tea, provided quick, lasting relief from a runny nose, coughing, sore throat, and tiredness. The hot drink was more effective than the same drink at room temperature.
4. Helping the central nervous system
Not getting enough water, hot or cold, can have negative effects on your nervous system functioning, ultimately affecting mood and brain function.
Research has shown that drinking water can improve central nervous system activity, as well as mood. It can also apparently reduce anxiety.
This research showed that drinking water boosted participants’ brain activity during demanding activities and also reduced their self-reported anxiety.
5. Weight Loss
Research has long supported the idea that drinking more water can help a person lose weight. This may partially be because drinking water increases feelings of fullness. Water also helps the body absorb nutrients, and it flushes out waste.
A study published in 2003 found that switching from drinking cold water to hot water could increase weight loss. Researchers found that drinking 500 ml of water before a meal increased metabolism by 30 per cent.
Raising water temperature to 98.6 degrees accounted for 40 per cent of the increase in metabolism. This metabolic step-up lasted for 30-40 minutes, following water consumption.
6. Pain Relief
Hot water improves circulation and may also improve blood flow, particularly to injured muscles. No research has directly linked hot water consumption to pain relief.
However, people routinely use heat packs and hot water bottles to reduce pain. Consuming hot water may offer some internal pain relief, but it is important to note that heat can also exacerbate swelling.
7. Reduces shivering in the cold
A 2017 study found that while the body’s natural response in cold conditions is to shiver, drinking warm fluids can help reduce shivering.
Subjects wore suits circulated with water that was a bit above freezing, then drank water at a variety of temperatures, including up to 126°F (52°C).
Researchers found that drinking the hot water quickly helped the subjects put less work into maintaining their body temperature. That could be handy, the study notes, for people working or exercising in cold conditions.
8. Relieving Achalasia
Achalasia is a condition during which your oesophagus has trouble moving food down into your stomach.
People with achalasia have trouble swallowing. They may feel as though foods get stuck in their oesophagus instead of moving to the stomach. This is called dysphagia.
Researchers aren’t sure why, but an older 2012 study found drinking warm water may help people with achalasia digest more comfortably.
The primary risk of drinking hot water is one of being burned. Water that feels pleasantly warm on the tip of a finger may still burn the tongue or throat. A person should avoid consuming water that is near boiling temperature, and they should always test a small sip before taking a gulp.
Drinking hot water in a covered, insulated cup can reduce the risk of spilling the water and getting burned.
*This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice