former Victoria Secret model Lindsay Ellingson starts every morning with a glass of warm water. She learned that the body supposedly has an easier time absorbing warm water and it helps soothe the stomach. On the other hand, there are several studies that show that cold water is better, especially in the morning, for boosting our metabolism and inducing weight loss. Are there any health benefits of cold showers?
The theory is that our body must work harder to bring the cold water up to our internal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Further, several studies show that we benefit more from cold showers than warm. Let’s look at the research that has been done to help us determine if we should be drinking and showering with cold or hot water?
n 2003, a German research team studied 14 people and determined that if the participants drank ice cold water, their caloric burn increased by 30% for about an hour. Dr. Rachelle Pojednic, the assistant professor in the nutrition department of Simmons College and professor at the Harvard Extension School, says that “If you chug your way through 2 liters of ice-cold water (that is a large soda bottle) you could burn an extra 100 calories per day… that’s a lot of freezing cold water to drink”. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Pojednic, the study was later determined to have been flawed by the way the researchers calculated calorie burn.
More scientifically sound research (according to the US National Library of Medicine) indicates the thermogenic effect of cold water is only about 4 to 7 calories per glass. “It’s pretty minimal”, said Leslie Bonci, a nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice. “… even if you have 8 glasses of cold water, that is only about 64 calories. That is not even a pretzel”. It should also be said that there is no sound scientific research that indicates the warm water is better absorbed.
All researchers agree, that drinking water at any temperature is beneficial. Dehydration causes fatigue and your body to shut down metabolism (not ideal for weight loss). Hydration, on the other hand, will make you feel fuller (eat less), lubricate muscles and joints, and maintain blood pressure (which delivers nutrients and oxygen to your body).
Health Benefits of Cold Showers
Cold showers, on the other hand, do have several benefits we should be aware of. These benefits have been known for a long time. Katherine Hepburn was a fan of cold showers and would regularly take ice cold baths and showers to increase energy and alertness. In addition to the cold water shock, the increased breathing we do when cold increases our oxygen levels in our blood, giving us a long lasting energy boost.
Further cold showers will help reduce the loss of our skins natural oils too quickly. It will also make your hair appear shinier and stronger by flattening hair follicles and increasing their ability to grip the scalp. In addition, the increased blood flow to our organs (as a way to heat our body up) has cardiovascular benefits including lowering blood pressure, clearing blocked arteries and improving immunity.
Lastly, a 1994 study found that cold waters decreased uric acid levels and increased dramatically the number of electrical impulses from nerve endings to the brain, thus having an impact on stress and depression levels.
As you can see, water is essential to life. Drinking water at any temperature is essential for good health. While cold water does seem to cause an extra caloric burn, the amount is negligible. If cold water helps you drink more, drink cold water. If warm water helps you enjoy the water more and drink more, drink warm water.
However, the benefits of cold showers are profound, and you should include cold showers in your life. Maybe not every shower you take is cold, but try to throw a few cold showers into your weekly schedule… your hair, skin and stress level will thank you. You can also add dietary supplements to your glass of water such as Living Traditionally’s organic collagen powder for even better skin and hair.