11 Health Benefits of Drinking Hot Water Over Cold
You already know the importance of drinking enough water. If you want a refresher, we’ve discussed it here, here, and here. Water is essential, and that’s true no matter who you are, where you live, or how you live. Now, however, we’re learning that there may be benefits of drinking hot water over cold.
Does the temperature of your water make any difference?
The Importance of Drinking Water
To start off, most of us don’t drink enough water. So, before worrying about the benefits of drinking hot water, ensuring you get enough water in the first place is what’s most important.
According to the National Academics of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the recommended intake is 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of fluids per day for men and 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women. 1 That breaks down to 15 cups a day for guys and about 11 cups per day for gals.
Of course, everyone is different, so you may need a bit more if you’re a little bigger than average and a bit less if you’re a touch smaller. You may also need more if you’re active or due to weather conditions.
Water by itself is priceless when it comes to benefits. It works as a lubricant, a solvent, and a shock absorber; it keeps the organs healthy and bodily systems functioning optimally.
Health Benefits of Drinking Hot Water
What do we mean by hot water? First, it doesn’t need to be scalding. In fact, you want to avoid anything boiling hot. Hot water is considered anything between 130 and 149 degrees F (54 to 65 degrees C). In other words, you’ll want your water to be warm to hot but not scalding or boiling, which could burn you.
Admittedly, there are some big claims for drinking it hot. However, there’s not a lot of supporting evidence as of yet. So, take the benefits as likely rather than fully proven. That said, most of us need to drink more water (often a lot more), so it doesn’t hurt to consume some extra hot water, even if the science hasn’t caught up yet.
1. Relieves Congestion
Whether it’s from a cold, COVID, or allergies, a stuffy nose is never fun. Fortunately, the solution could be just a cup of hot water. Before drinking, start by inhaling the steam from your cup to help loosen up the sinuses. This may help you breathe more easily and may even help decrease the discomfort of a sinus headache.
Any hot drink may help if you’re feeling congested and stuffy. 2 So, enjoy some hot water, tea, coffee, or even cocoa to help clear out excess mucus, soothe a sore throat, ease a runny nose, decrease coughing, and help you feel better in general. You don’t need to have a cold, though, to feel congested. The body produces mucous every day of the year, and dry nasal passages are common, especially when it’s dry. So, a little extra steam could help you breathe easier in general even if you’re feeling pretty good.
2. Soothes Digestion
Water, in general, is necessary for healthy digestion. But drinking warmer or hotter water may be even more beneficial for helping break down food and moving it through the system.
It is, after all, logical as warm water is more effective for helping dissolve substances than cold water. That’s just physics. Think, for example, about washing off sticky rice or a sweet dessert from a plate. Hot water just gets the job done better and faster than cold water.
Theoretically, at least, the same could be true in the body as food moves through the digestive system. Again, though, water of any temperature is needed for healthy digestion.
3. Relieves Constipation
Constipation is a common complaint for those who aren’t drinking enough water, so ensuring you’re drinking any extra fluids—no matter the temp—may help things run smoothly again. However, drinking hot water appears to be even more effective, and this is backed by science, at least for people who are suffering from postoperative constipation. 3
If things haven’t been going smoothly for you, a few cups of hot water may help get things moving again.
4. Improves Hydration
I have to admit: during the hottest parts of the summer, there is always a pitcher of cold water in my fridge, and I drink from a hydro flask to keep my water as cold as it can get. It can get hot where I live, and we don’t have AC, so come summer, I’ll do anything to stay cool and hydrated.
Here’s something crazy, though. According to one small study, the best temperature for improving hydration is 16 degrees C (60 degrees F) over the colder 5 degrees C (41 degrees F). 4 Sure, that’s not exactly hot. But it’s not the icy cold beverage many of us seek when it’s super-hot and humid or we’re working out hard. Other research found that cold water may be more pleasurable to drink, but folks are also likely to drink less of it, 5 which could prevent them from getting the fluids they need.
That said, after exercise, especially when it’s hot and you’re sweating, grab any temp water you prefer to help your body recover and rehydrate.
5. Supports Weight Loss
Drinking enough water is vital to a healthy lifestyle, and that includes helping maintain a healthy weight. Contrary to some common claims, drinking hot water hasn’t been shown to boost metabolism, break down fat, or increase weight loss. It may, however, help fill you up, so you feel more satisfied and naturally want to eat less.
To help improve the potential health benefits of hot water, a squeeze of lemon (which adds vitamin C), a dash of apple cider vinegar, or even as coffee or tea (without added sugar or excess cream) could help even more. 6, 7
6. Improves Concentration and Mood
Feeling foggy or just not able to focus? Both are common effects of dehydration, so drinking water may help improve focus and concentration.
Drinking any temperature of water should help. So why make it hot? Because hot drinks tend to be more relaxing, so it may help reduce your stress levels, which also makes it easier to focus.
It’s true. Warm or hot drinks, including water, coffee, and tea, have been found to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and help people relax. 8
7. Stops Shivering
Shivering is a natural response to feeling cold. Your body naturally does this to help warm up. Shivering, however, isn’t all that pleasant. It can also make it difficult when dexterity is needed, as it’s hard to grasp things if your fingers are shaking.
A hot drink may come to the rescue. Hot water has been found in research to dramatically reduce cold stress and shivering. 9 The hot water can also help increase your core body temperature to help you get warmer faster.
There’s some suggestion that these benefits could also translate to improved blood flow and increased cardiovascular health. However, while the theory makes sense, the research isn’t there yet.
8. Supports the Body’s Ability to Detox
The body has a powerful system for detoxifying, due in large part to the liver and kidneys (thank you, body!). While there’s no research on hot water for improved detoxification, there are studies showing that drinking enough water helps the kidneys do their job of flushing out (filtering) toxins from the blood, so your body can expel them (through urine). 10
Anecdotally, some people highly recommend consuming warm water if you’re trying to detox after overindulging, such as from overeating or overdrinking. While the research isn’t there yet, increasing water intake can help reduce hangover symptoms, and drinking warm water may be easier on the system as it recovers.
9. Helps You Drift Off to Sleep
We’ve all heard that warm milk can help kids drift off more peacefully. Interestingly, any caffeine-free warm drink may be beneficial for sleep—so drink it straight or toss in a tea bag, some cocoa powder, lemon juice, mint leaves (or other herbs), or fresh fruits, if you prefer.
10. Easier on the Teeth
Either extreme—i.e., too hot or too cold—can be painful for folks with sensitive teeth. Even if you don’t experience sensitivities, water that’s too cold or too hot can affect fillings, potentially causing them to de-bond. So, warm water may be the most comfortable and the easiest on those pearly whites, especially after you’ve had some work done.
11. Makes You Friendlier
Another surprising study suggests that drinking warmer liquids (such as hot water or hot coffee) is likely to make you feel more generous, more caring, and less judgmental toward others. The study also found that people who were holding onto something hot (vs. cold) were more likely to gift a friend than themselves. 11 So, holding something warm may make your personability warmer.
Health Benefits of Drinking Hot Water: A Recap
There are even more claims about drinking hot water over cold, such as helping diminish menstrual cramps, slowing aging, getting rid of acne, improving hair health and growth, and even preventing dandruff. Sadly, there’s even less evidence that these are real results—as least so far.
While drinking hot water may not be the “cure-all” that some proclaim, there is growing evidence that hot water may be more beneficial than cold.
There are also very few risks as long as you drink water that’s pleasantly warm rather than near-boiling hot. According to research, the optimal temperature is 138 degrees F (57.8 degrees C), at least when it comes to coffee. 12 Speaking of which, if you’re turning your hot water into coffee or tea, you’ll also want to ensure you don’t get too caffeinated, which can lead to feeling jittery and anxious.
That said, grabbing a warm mug and sipping on some soothing warm water may be the perfect way to start your day and improve your health. It sure is one of the easiest and most affordable!