The heat is cranking up and everyone just needs something to relieve it. This relief may come in the form of a cold bath, staying indoors with the air conditioning unit turned to low or taking the “almighty” cold water which is almost iced to a block in the freezer. Drinking of iced water has become an addiction for some irrespective of the weather conditions, I guess the presence of a refrigerating unit in the home is being abused.

Cold water may be good for some things and it definitely has its benefits in certain situations but drinking iced water often instead of water at room temperature does a lot more harm to the body than good. Listed below are some of the harmful effects of cold water on the body.

1. Increases body fat
The weight loss tip for drinking lots of cold water to force the body into doing more work and thus burn more calories isn’t completely true. This is because cold temperatures in the body cause fats to harden and congeal. This makes the body find it harder to digest and disperse the unwanted fats from our body.

2. Constipation
Although drinking water that’s at room temperature helps the digestive process, drinking ice water has the potential to cause constipation. Food solidifies and hardens as it passes through the body, while at the same time making intestines contract, which can lead to difficulty when you need to “do the do”.

3. Hinders hydration
Drinking ice water actually down the body’s rehydration process, rather than speeding it up. This is because the body needs to bring it up to temperature first before it can use it. The only exception to this rule is long distance runners, who appear to benefit from the delayed response mechanism for maintaining water levels when they’re on a long run.

4. Saps energy
While drinking ice water can make you feel refreshed and stimulate you in the short term, it actually serves to drain your energy in the long run. This is because your body has to use extra energy to warm up the water and bring it up to its average temperature.

5. Slows heart rate
Drinking cold water can cause your heart rate to drop. This is because the vagus nerve, which runs down the back of your neck, is affected by a sudden ingestion of  cold water.  As an emergency measure, your heart slows down until your body temperature reaches equilibrium once again.

6. Upsets digestion
Drinking ice water can lead to stomach upsets, abdominal pain, gurgling and nausea. This is because cold temperatures are anti-inflammatory, therefore blood vessels retract. Another side effect of ingesting ice water is that the stomach contracts and becomes too tight to be able to process food efficiently.

7. Irritates throat
Just as a cold winter’s day can give you a runny nose and block up your sinuses, ice water creates the same bodily response. In other words, your body creates mucus as a natural humidifier to warm any ingested cold air or liquid. The difference is that in the case of ice water, this bodily response is unneeded, and it results in extra mucus accumulating in your pipes, thus making your throat sore.

8. Causes headaches
If you’re familiar with “brain-freeze”, which you get as a result of eating an ice cream or lolly, then you should know that ice water can do the same thing. It chills many sensitive nerves in the spine, and they immediately relay messages to your brain, which in turn causes headaches.

9. Reduces nutrients
The body’s temperature is 37o C and when you drink something at a very low temperature, your body has to spend energy to regulate its temperature. This spent energy is otherwise used to digest food and absorb nutrients, thereby leaving your body short of nutrients.

The colder the water, the more harm it causes. The truth is the body doesn’t need water at a temperature lower than room temperature except under rigorous conditions. Next time you are about reaching for that ice-cold water, think again!

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