Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Drinking Cold Water, Health, and Calories

A lot of Asian women don't drink cold water, citing bogus medical facts: cold water is bad for your health and makes you fat. Some goes as far as claiming that they are allergic to cold water, and my mother would often fall ill after drinking cold water. She would lecture me about drinking cold water, because she believed cold water solidifies fat inside the body making it hard to burn off.

This post is to debunk this insane disgrace to medical science. Hopefully, I can liberate a few Asian woman from their fear of simple cold water.

What happens to cold water when it enters your body:
When you drink cold water, the water is warmed up by your esophagus, as it is swallowed. Unless the water is guzzled, the water is tepid by the time it reaches your stomach. Let's say ingest a significant amount of iced cold water (0˚C) at once. When the cold water reaches your stomach, your body would immediately notice the drop in the body's core temperature. Blood would rushes towards the area of your stomach and begin increasing the temperature. It takes the body 2 hours to digest water, and by the time the water enters your duodenum, the water is already at body temperature. Then, water is very quickly absorbed.

Drinking cold water does not cause any damage:
It does not cause cancer, brain damage, weak immune system, or whatever your parents may have told you. Consider this a gullibility check. This article along with email spam were started as a April Fool's joke. It is completely false, and it even stated at the very bottom that it was not based on any medical fact.

Drinking cold water is better than drinking warm water:
Unless you are cold and want to warm up, cold water are actually better for you. American College of Sports Medicine's Position Stand on Exercise and Fluid Replacement states that fluid needs to be cooler than ambient temperature, meaning between 59 to 72°F. Colder fluids leave the stomach more quickly than warmer ones, allowing faster rehydration. Moreover, during hot weather, when we tend to lose extra fluids, cool beverages will have a cooling effect on the body. Drinking cool beverages can help to cool us from the inside.

Drinking cold water helps you lose weight:
This leads to the golden equation for weight lose: 1 Calorie = energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius. 1 Calorie = 1,000 calories. (Note the capital C).

Let's say you drink a 16-ounce (0.5 liter) glass of ice water at 0 degrees Celsius:
Body temperature can be estimated at 37 degrees Celsius.
  • It takes 1 calorie to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.
  • There are 473.18 grams in 16 fluid ounces of water.
  • Your body must raise the temperature of 473.18 grams of water from zero to 37 degrees C.
  • 473.18g x 37˚C = 17,507 calories or 17.5 Calories.
  • We need eight 8-once glasses of water a day: 17.5 Calories x 4 = 70 Calories
Your body burns an extra 79 Calories a day if you drink all your water cold. Ladies! Drink your cold water!

Traditional Chinese Medicine is wrong about cold water
I actually do respect and adhere to many aspects of TCM that works. Jean found this on the internet, but I have a feeling this is an old wives tale that a real TCM will not recognize.
Drinking cold liquids causes constriction of the blood vessels and nerves in the Stomach and digestive tract creating spasm, tightness and restricted circulation. Digestion requires heat; in other words, yang or metabolic energy to digest. Cold extinguishes this heat, preventing proper digestion and assimilation of food, toxic gases and byproducts of this failed process. It also forces the body to expend additional yang/heat or metabolic energy further draining the organs from which this energy originates: Kidney yang/Adrenals. This leads to slowing of metabolism, weight gain, adrenal insufficiency, thyroid problems, etc.
Well, if you guzzle a liter of ice cold water, you will get stomach cramp, obviously. However, blood actually flows towards your stomach (read above) when you drink cold water, and water does not remain cold when it is absorbed. Also, the yang energy statement is misleading. Ying and Yang is not a zero sum game. Instead, people should strive to achieve balance between the two. One can create too much Yang (fire chi) with salt, spice, peanuts, and some Chinese herbal remedy, drinking cold water can help you maintain that balance. The last statement is also false. Unless your urine is ice cold, your body works harder and, thus, burns calories when you drink cold water.

This may be an oxymoron, but don't believe in everything people tell your or what you read on the internet. Go do your own research and ask your doctor, before committing to a life fearful of cold water.

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