Are you someone whose thirst is not quenched unless you have a cold glass of water? Or, are you someone who prefers a glass of luke warm water over cold water since it relaxes you?

Like every other thing, each of us has a different preference for temperature of water we drink or the temperature of the water for a bath. While some of us prefer to have a long slow bath, others a quick shower. However, did you know the temperature of water has a lot of effect on different aspects of our health? Here are the details.

To begin with, just a brief about hydrotherapy – Hydrotherapy is that method of naturopathy where in water is put to use in various forms and types to relieve physical and mental ailments and to recharge our vitality. Read more on hydrotherapy here. Since water is the primary element used to used in hydrotherapy, we must understand the effect of hot and cold water on our various systems and thus we would be able to make effective use of the same.

Effects of bath or application of water

Cold water
  1. Skin – Application of cold/ very cold water on skin for a short period of time produces pallor and coldness of skin because of the contraction of capillaries. Once the application stops, the pallor and blueness disappears and redness appears. But apart from these physical changes cold water application refines the hair and skin by helping to tighten the cuticles and pores which prevents it from getting clogged – remember the ice cold water that is used for facialsJ
  2. Circulation – Short duration application of cold water or short cold water shower improves the circulation by encouraging blood to surround our organs.  As cold water hits the body, it’s ability to get blood circulating leads the arteries to more efficiently pump blood, therefore boosting our overall heart health, according to  Joseph Mercola, a natural health expert. It can also lower blood pressure, clear blocked arteries, and improve our immune system.
  3. Muscles – A short cold bath or douche or spray for a few seconds increases muscular energy and causes contraction of smooth muscles and blood vessels. Like athletes have a practice of taking ice baths post training to reduce muscle soreness, similarly we can practice a very quick cold shower after a gym workout or a run to reduce the muscle soreness.
  4. Nervous system – Cold showers have been shown to relieve depression symptoms due to the intense impact of cold receptors in the skin, which send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain. Thus, it produces an anti-depressive effect, and boosts moods. This application needs to be a quick shower since a prolonged application to the head can even cause unconsciousness
  5. Cold showers also help in reducing weight. There are two types of fat in our body – brown fat & white fat. White fat is bad. It’s the body fat that we all hate so much. Brown fat is good. It’s function is to generate heat and keep your body warm. When we take a cold shower, brown fat is activated, resulting in an increase in energy and calories burned to keep the body warm. So much so that according to this study, cold temperatures can increase brown fat by 15X the normal amount, which can result in 4 kgs weight loss per year.
Hot water
  1. Skin – Water applied at temperatures 99-101 F dilates the capillary vessels and relaxes the surface vessels. Thus, a general hot bath relaxes the body. Heating of the skin is beneficial in cases of rheumatism with painful joints.
  2. Circulation – Hot water increases the activity of the heart and cardiac and vascular activities and increases circulation.
  3. Muscles – Full hot bath over prolonged periods weakens muscles. Hot rectal irrigation more commonly known as enema is one of the best methods of relieving constipation and enlargement of prostate.
  4. Nervous system – Effect of neutral bath (92-95F) diminishes nervous irritability producing a sedative effect. Baths of high temperature first produces a headache and later exhaustion
  5. Respiratory system – A hot shower also acts as a natural decongestant to relieve cold symptoms, since the hot steam moisturizes nasal passages. Hot steam inhalation proves effective in headaches, sinusitis and congestion due to cold.
  6. Hot water relaxes the body and better prepares us for falling asleep. When a tense body enters a warm bath, the hot water increases the body temperature and relaxes the muscles. Relaxing the muscles not only soothes us physically, but also mentally, and many of us need that peace of mind at the end of the day.

Effects of drinking water

Hot water
  1. Skin – Drinking hot water helps to repair the skin cells that increase the elasticity of our skin thus helping in damaged skin to become smoother. It also deep cleanses our body and eliminates the root causes of acne-related infections.
  2. Circulation – Drinking hot water enhances our blood circulation, which is important for proper muscle and nerve activity. In addition, it keeps our nervous system healthy by breaking down the fat deposits around it.
  3. Muscles – Hot water can also aid in reducing menstrual cramps. The heat of the water has a calming and soothing effect on the abdominal muscles, which eventually can help to cure cramps and spasms.
  4. Respiratory system – warm water is good for people suffering from nasal and throat congestion. It acts as a natural expectorant by aiding in the expulsion of phlegm from the respiratory tract.
  5. Digestive system – Hot water is particularly beneficial for digestion. It can help to keep you regular as well as make your bowel movements healthy and pain free. It is always recommended that you consume a glassful of hot or warm water every morning when your stomach is empty.
  6. Improves metabolism – If you are trying to lose weight you would have heard drinking a glass of warm water first thing in the morning can help with weight loss. Warm water increases body temperature, which therefore increases the metabolic rate. An increase in metabolic rate allows the body to burn more calories throughout the rate. It can also help the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys to function even better.

Cold water

  1. Circulation – drinking cold water lessens the pulse rate by 10-15 beats per minute and also lowers blood pressure
  2. Fever – Drinking cold water when we have a fever is one method of cooling the body down. It is important to keep hydrated because the body is working hard to get rid of the foreign bodies that may be causing the rise in temperature.
  3. Heat stroke – Similarly when you are suffering from a heat stroke, drinking cold water helps to reduce the body temperature and makes you feel better.
  4. Never drink cold water while eating food. When you drink cold water immediately after meals or along with a meal, your body spends a lot of energy in increasing its temperature. This slows the digestion process, which may cause indigestion

So, other than for specific ailments and conditions, on a regular basis showering or a bath in luke warm to cold water is most beneficial and drinking luke warm to hot water is the best.

 

Image courtesy : https://www.flickr.com/photos/gromgull/4258976764/

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About Author

I am a stay at home mom, having worked in the software technology services space for over 10 years. In my professional life I used to enforce quality standards like CMMi & Six Sigma to make developers and testers jobs easier & process oriented. In my current stint I am using similar techniques coupled with age old wisdom from my mom and grand mom to make our living healthier and medicine free. To start any new stint it helps if you read and train and so I got myself a diploma in Naturopathy from Mumbai.

2 Comments

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