Ice water in your veins?

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jul 13, 2010
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This single stat will make you never ask for ice water ever again.

A study that revealed 70% of the time ice at a fast food restaurant is dirtier than their toilet water (

If you want to be healthy, here’s a rather obvious tip: watch healthy, active people closely. And, after asking them a few “dumb” questions, imitate them.

This glass of ice water will kill you.

“Water without ice, please.”

Update: “An award winning middle schooler’s science project showed that on average 70% of the time ice from fast food restaurants is dirtier than toilet water.”

A few years back, I noticed many of my Boulder and/or Buddhist and/or Adventure friends—folks versed in healthy living, in and out—always made a casual point of asking for “water without ice, please” at restaurants. I’d often done the same, when I thought of it, for years—not for any health reason, but because my sensitive little teeth and gums hadn’t ever liked the cold (you should see me at The Spot Climbing Gym, trying to drink quickly out of the water faucet before it cools down and is too painful for poor little me to drink. Now that I think about it, it’s warmer these days, I don’t have the same issue there. Anyway).

So at some point I asked my mom or a friend, “Why don’t you like drinking ice water? Is it bad for you?” And I always got the same response: “Tibetan Medicine says it’s bad for you. Advises drinking room temperature water. If you think about it, it makes sense—your body has to work harder to heat up freezing water that’s suddenly dumped in its innards, so you actually wind up heating up.” Something like that, anyways. Interestingly, these Buddhists (many of whom had lived in India) advised drinking warm water, even when it’s hot out, as it somehow balanced everything.

Now, I clearly don’t know nothing here. So I’m asking, not telling: is ice water at all bad for us? Is room temperature water the way to go?

One thing’s clear, in any case: ice takes a great deal of energy to create and keep cold. So it’s more eco-responsible to shun the cold stuff.

That said, a cold beer once in a while…slightly more than once in awhile…is a little bit of heaven.

With thanks for the story idea to Melanie our intern, and Hapa, and their water with or without ice.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


28 Responses to “Ice water in your veins?”

  1. Laurie says:

    I happily put ice in my water at home. As a microbiologist, I must say I NEVER use ice in a restaurant. Often the ice bin is filled using a dirty bucket. In addition, ice in restaurants has been tested and found to harbor many bacteria, E. coli & Pseudomonas aeruginosa included. It is simply way to disgusting for me…

  2. […] "Water without ice, please." | elephant journal&#10&#83&#116ate Governor Buys Bottled Water At School Kids' Expense … […]

  3. I tend to go for room temperature anything, including my food. Most people that I know love to get their food HOT, but it only tests my patience. I tend to sit there waiting after my meal has been served, until it becomes room temperature.

    Cold water can be refreshing, but I tend to go for the room temperature stuff. Hot tea on a warm day always seems like a bad idea, but it really does cool you off. Perhaps the body reacts to the heat from the tea and the heat that the rest of your body is feeling and makes you sweat more, which cools the body. It may also be that your mind is comparing the temperature of the tea to the temperature of your environment, and in comparison the environment "feels" less imposing?

  4. That's good to know! Yuck!

  5. If you find out the answer, let me know. A friend just asked me the other day whether drinking ice water speeds up metabolism. I'd heard rumors of this…

  6. swati jr* says:

    Ayurved says no to iced drinks. it is bad for the digestion and dulls the stomach agni (flame). a def. no no when eating.

  7. Javi Valca says:

    is EVERYTHING bad for you nowadays??

  8. candice says:

    I prefer warm temperature beverages, no ideology attached. Ever notice how they are slightly colder than room temperature anyway? My husband knows this about me: no ice please. Just the way I like it. Now, I agree, a warm beer? Yuck!

  9. Blake says:

    Strangely enough, there's an evolutionary reason people prefer cold water! Moving water, such as that found in a stream, is cool and cleaner than stagnant water which tends to be warm, harboring bacteria.

  10. merebear says:

    I've heard that iced beverages and/or liquids cause vasoconstriction of the blood vessels within the digestive system. This slows blood flow and circulation causing poor digestion.

  11. Melanie says:

    I drink cold water, but never add ice at home. Icemaker broke and have not replaced it. I prefer it that way.

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Verrrry interesting!

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Nowadays, perhaps. So just do as our grandparents did.

  14. […] one more thing: drink plenty of water. It is a vital part of the release and commitment […]

  15. subramanian says:

    Having lived in India… Tibetan monks live in the colder regions. Elsewhere, you will find water in earthen pots that cool the water – no electricity for a fridge.

  16. elephantjournal says:

    # Some of you (some of my friends) will love this new one:

    Adenia L: My hippie dad wouldn't allow drinks with meals… it all makes sense when you think about it.

    Ronnie G: I drink ice water constantly & I'm slowly dying barring a tragic accident. But I don't think ice is the reason 🙂

    # Ronnie, as they say, "no one gets out of life alive."

  17. […] going along your happily hydrated way, when someone tells you that you shouldn’t be drinking cold water. This stops you dead in your tracks. After a little while, you finally acclimate yourself to room […]

  18. Priscilla Wood says:

    Good to know I'm not the only one. I like my food room temperature too and after reading this article it makes more sense.

  19. Andrea says:

    yup, in hot weather, the hotter-than-body-temp water tells your brain it needs to cool off so you end up cooler, in cold weather, it's more of a heat transference thing… and yes, it definitely affects digestion- imagine throwing ice water on a fire. takes a whle for the fire to stoke up again and if digestion is stressed/weak b/c of other issues, it's super-no-bueno… i've also had people lose weight JUST switching to hot water sipped throughout the day and not drinking much with meals. Those Tibetans were so right on 🙂 (btw if it matters at all I'm a certified Ayurvedic practitioner and Osteopathic Physician, if anyone would like more info!) xo -Andrea Seiffertt, D.O.

  20. Lana says:

    Thanks Elephant!
    I drink room-fresh aqua too.

    However, the taglines/title for this article were somewhat misleading. And, as is often the case with Elephant blogs, the article really begged for some research, references, and depth!

    Feedback: I know elephant needs page views for funding survival. And I’m interested in your topics. Though I’ve shied away from visiting as of late because the articles are many-times fluff (or just a link to youtube). I’d love to see more journalism in the future!

  21. solar says:

    Cold water outside the body: Good!
    Cold water inside the body: Bad!

  22. Jennifer White says:

    I've asked for water without ice for years! People always think I'm nuts when they go out with me for the first time. One friend said, "how European of you." Love this absolutely original article.

  23. @yogatwit says:

    I grew up in Thailand, and was from a very early age was warned not too drink cold ice water. Well cold drinks in general, but esp. when sick. They are not thought to be good for the system. I mostly drink my bev's at room temp except for very bad beer, which has to be ice cold to be drinkable.
    Check out ayurvedic medicine for more info

  24. Jolene says:

    I've actually heard the EXACT opposite (and now I am completely confused). A health and fitness "guru" I know strongly recommends drinking water as cold as you can stand it for WEIGHT LOSS – his reasoning is that the body has to actively work to bring that water to room temperature inside of your body (for digestion); therefore, you burn MORE calories warming the water internally than drinking room-temperature liquid.

  25. Ash says:

    My yoga teacher in India explained to us once the logic behind that. Cold water is not good especially during meals because the body is trying to digest the food and cold water slows down the process. plus she gave us an example about the fats that are in the food…. What happens to butter or say any kind of fat when u freeze it or even cool it… it hardens… I short what i got from that conversation was that your body requires a certain temperature in the stomach and intestine i guess to carry out the process and you are cooling it down everytime u take a sip of that ice cold water…. so ur system has to just work harder at it. …

  26. Emma says:

    As for the safety of ice water in restaurants… I've worked in many high-end restaurants in my time… many of which do not wash that ice bucket that hangs OUTSIDE next to the ice machine. I've removed leaves, bugs, and little bits of black out of the bucket and the ice inside. Just a little food for thought.

  27. Alexandra says:

    but ice water burns more calories 😛