The Chinese swear by it.
Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have used it as a body detoxification technique since forever.
My grandmother always used to do it before going bed. I remember seeing her drinking a freshly boiled cup of water in the evening when I was a kid, but never really questioned it, other than thinking it was a bit weird and quite definitely not as tasty as hot chocolate.
And it wasn’t until I lived in China later in life that I suddenly experienced it again.
I’m talking about drinking hot water and the health benefits it can bring.
Yep. I know. Sounds like a load of boll*cks, but hear me out.
Growing up in the UK, drinking hot water as a beverage of choice would have been viewed as a little eccentric. Most people prefer to bathe in it or throw in a tea bag or a spoonful of coffee.
As I mentioned, my grandmother was the only person I ever knew that did that. But when I came to Asia, I saw people with many habits that were new to me and one of them was the hot water thing.
It seems to be the default advice from doctors in China, no matter what’s wrong with you and parents nationwide encourage their children regularly throughout any given day to drink more hot/warm water. They don’t generally do the cold stuff – even in the summer. Don’t ask – it’s a yin and yang thang.
But is there really anything to it?
Well, if you research it online, there are a great deal of claimed health benefits, but it’s hard to find actual scientifically backed results.
For sure, drinking more water of any temperature is going to bring benefits and of course should prevent a lot of the ailments associated with dehydration, but could many of us be missing a trick by overlooking such a simple thing as a daily cup or two of the hot stuff?
Having researched it a little, it appears that it might actually have several health benefits.
A lot of the articles and research claim that drinking hot water can support various bodily functions and ease certain ailments. For example:
- Body detoxification, which supports clear skin and prevents acne and spots
- Eases menstrual cramps.
- Decreases mucus build-up, nasal congestion, helps to ease symptoms of colds
- Promotes hair growth
- Prevents dry skin and dandruff
- Supports digestion/bowel movements
- Improves circulation
- Improves metabolism and encourages weight loss
- Eases and prevents constipation
And I’m sure if you ask a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, you’ll hear a whole load more benefits to add to that list.
Of course, it could also be that not being dehydrated sorts out most of these problems, so it is not the drinking of hot water per se that brings the benefits, rather just the drinking of water.
The same benefits are frequently claimed for hot water with lemon.
Ultimately, your body needs water and it kind of makes sense that hot water would be good for flushing out the system, so there can’t be any harm in mixing it up and trying the boiled variety once in a while, no?
You might find that it takes a bit of getting used to, but for me personally, once I became accustomed to drinking water hot, I even started to crave it over a cold drink! So, now, I always start and end the day with a cup of hot water (with or without lemon, depending on whether or not we have any in the fridge).
I think the old adage of listening to your body stands here.
I believe that humans often intuitively know what is good for them and what is not, but this intuition becomes suppressed by all of the mixed messages we are bombarded with from ‘experts’ and the food industry and it is easy to become confused when we are surrounded by processed and manufactured foods that are offered to us through the media and on the supermarket shelves.
If you think hot water on its own is too bland, try it with a slice of lemon or lime or a fruit infusion.
Hot or not – the key is to stay hydrated.
Most of us drink much less water than we should be drinking and it is known that mild dehydration can affect our bodies in a number of ways, e.g. headaches, loss of concentration, dry skin, constipation, etc.
How much water you need to drink each day differs for each individual and will depend on your gender, your weight, the environment you are in and how active you are, but broadly speaking, you should be drinking a couple of litres per day to help your body function properly. If you are drinking less than that, you could probably benefit from drinking more.
If you think that you are not taking on enough water, the best way to increase your intake is to start scheduling your drinking, rather than waiting until you are thirsty.
If you wait until you have a dry mouth and lips, you’re kind of already into mild dehydration, so you want to be drinking plenty of water before you get to that point.
Make sure you drink a cup of hot (or cold) water on waking and before you sleep and also with every meal. If you drink coffee, grab a glass of water to drink before or after to balance out the diuretic effect of the caffeine.
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Keep a cup or bottle of water at your desk and sip at regular intervals throughout the day. You will pee more for sure, but that is a good thing. Your urine should be somewhere between a straw-colour to transparent-yellow. If it is a very dark yellow and kind of ‘thick’, it is a sign of dehydration.
But be aware also that you can drink too much water. If your pee is totally transparent, then you are probably drinking too much, which can upset the balance of electrolytes in your body and this is not a good thing, so don’t go crazy with it.
I’d be interested to know how you feel after increasing your water intake – particularly if you try the hot water route – so please do let us know!
Some studies and articles: