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Why You Never Drink Iced Water (+ Benefits of Hot Drinks for Digestion)

  • Published on: 10 December, 2014
  • Last update: 01 December, 2018

Did you know that it is custom in Traditional Chinese Medicine to never drink cold water or eat cold food? Instead, hot water is sipped throughout the day to keep metabolism and digestive fire burning strong. This is a habit that has absolutely changed my life!

In TCM, water is cold and yin by nature, yet the stomach is the stove of our body. It’s our fire pit that we throw logs (food) into to keep us going throughout the day. If it’s not burning up, our metabolism and ‘inner fire’ (energy, libido) won’t be burning up either. Our “logs” will sit there, not digesting properly. We need fire to cook and transform nutrients to different parts of the body. Long term consumption of cold water slowly turns off the heat, resulting abnormal function of digestion, leading to malnutrition & poor immune system. Too much cold accumulation in our body also cause poor circulation, intestinal cramps, & abdominal pain.

  • For young children, their organs are delicate. After consuming lots of cold foods (cold milk, ice cream, sandwiches, salads) and cold water/juices, their stoves become colder and colder, leading to all kinds of digestion problems, sinus problem, allergies, hay fever, asthma, etc.
  • In the “Yellow Emperor’s Master Classic of Chinese Medicine,” a cold constitution with cold drinks hurts the lung (cold constitution here means overconsumption of cold foods which turns our body type to cold). In the 5 elements, the stomach is the mother of lung. When the mother (stomach) is sick, it can’t take care of the son (lung). After a while, the son gets sick (allergies, sinus infections, & asthma). We need to keep up the fire of the stove, thus helping the mother (stomach) to get healthy, in order to cure and save the son (lung). Just like when we travel on an airplane, we need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before our son.
  • Excessive drinking of cold water also affects the development and physiological functions of the reproductive system. For young ladies, it can cause menstrual cramps, menstrual disorders & excessive discharge. Overaccumulation of cold creates a “chilled palace” which is an extremely cold uterus, ovaries, ovarian tube & leads to overgrowth of dampness (CANDIDA, PARASITES), fibroids, ovarian cysts, tumors, dysmenorrhea, infertility.
  • When we get hurt, we use an ice pack to calm pain/swelling. When we drink ice water while we are eating, it’s like putting an ice pack on our stomach! It slows down our fullness sensations, causing overeating.

If you look at a thermal imaging camera, the stomach is always red/orange (hot) even though our hands may often be green/blue (cold). Our hands/feet will be especially cold if we have fatigue, swelling, and menstrual cramps; which are all yang (heat) deficiency symptoms. On that same thermal imaging camera, water is very dark blue. The water element is yin by nature. If you drink that dark blue cold fluid, your red hot stomach begins to turn blue/cold as well… NOT good.

What happens when you put sautéed vegetables, soup, or steak in the fridge? The fat solidifies. We eat healthy fats all day. What happens if we put cold drinks on top of that fat? That’s right! It solidifies in our stomachs, building up that gunk. If you drink HOT liquids, they will literally help your body melt away the fat/food and use it for energy (helps with weight loss!)

Some of you may be thinking… okay, but what about in the summer? What if it’s hot outside? A cold drink is refreshing, don’t we need it for balance?

Not quite. What happens when you have a hot pan? If you put a drop of cold water on it, steam and moisture explodes. The same thing happens in your body (as above, so below!) Putting cold water in a hot body creates moisture and dampness. What loves to grow in damp areas? Bacteria, candida, and parasites… especially in your stomach and uterus. “Dampness” in TCM actually means pathogens and parasites.

There is an old Chinese story about a man about to have a heat stroke. A woman in the woods makes him tea instead of the ice water he asked for to ‘cool him down’. “Why hot tea?! I’m overheating!” She insisted he drink it and he immediately felt better. If she gave him cold water, his body would have had to compensate for it by heating up more, which would be the real cause of heat stroke. The hot tea allowed his body to relax, calm down, and cool itself down instead of compensating for the difference in temperature.

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amanda jackson

Very interesting. Can’t wait to learn more.


Thank you for explaining this whole concept of putting cold/hot things into our bodies. I love drinking water, but always drink it either cool or room temperature. I will start bringing a thermos of warm water with me, instead of the water bottle. Thanks again.


Olivia, Can you tell me the brand name of the pitcher in the picture in this article? Thanks!


Hi Olivia, Is ok to drink room temperature water? I would like to know the same question as another reader mention: Should I take my refrigerate smoothie out for about an hour or room temperature? Or should I stop consuming smoothie because majority of the smoothie recipes are cold drinks?


Hi Olivia! I just came back after living in Beijing, China for more than a year and was constantly surrounded by my Chinese friends telling me to drink hot water and its benefits. I was skeptical at first but i do believe it has SO many benefits! I’m looking to pursue a lot more research on Chinese medicine and its benefits! Keep rocking on!


Hi Olivia, I have been drinking room temperature drinks now. I wanted to ask about smoothies? Should I not refrigerate a smoothie after making it? I usually try and take it out of the fridge an hour before I want to drink it. Thanks!

Michelle Taylor

Wow…. Very good info.


Olivia, I just want you to know how much ginger tea alone has changed my life. I swear its not only the ginger–it's the warmth from the hot water! My allergies have essentially disappeared, my lungs (normally I would be in the hospital 5x per winter) are working BETTER than they ever have, and I don't have stomach issues anymore!! (My stomach issues occurred first, then my asthma got

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