10 Super Surprising Benefits of Drinking Hot Water
Start your day with a drink of hot (or warm) water and you'll soon reap the benefits.
Should you swap out your hot cup of coffee for a cup of… plain hot water?
Drinking plain, fresh water is one of the best things you can do for your health, says Simiao Li-Sauerwine, MD, assistant residency program director and assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Water functions as a lubricant, a solvent, a shock absorber, and a building material to keep all your organs healthy and your systems operating smoothly, according to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But does the temperature of that water make any difference? A popular “health hack” is to start your day with a piping hot cup of H2O, saying that it can have increased benefits beyond drinking plain room-temperature water.
There isn’t a lot of research in this area, but anything that gets people to drink more water is a good thing and hot water may provide some additional boost to your health and well-being, says Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist (ENT) and laryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Not too hot and not too much
Staying hydrated is a good thing but you can overdo it, Dr. Li-Sauerwine says. “Drink to your thirst level,” she says. “Over-hydrating with water can lead to hyponatremia, a dangerous imbalance of electrolytes that can lead to cardiac problems and other issues.”
It’s also important to be moderate with the temperature of your “hot” water, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that drinking very hot beverages—over 65 degrees Celsius, or 149 degrees Fahrenheit—is probably carcinogenic to humans and has been linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer. In the United States, hot beverages are usually consumed at temperatures below 149 degrees, says the American Cancer Society. To avoid damaging the epithelial cells in your mouth and throat with scalding water, keep your drinks below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
“This may be cooler than you’re used to, as many cultures drink scalding hot tea or other liquids,” he says. “If the water is boiling, make sure to give it adequate time to cool down before drinking.”
Helps with weight loss
On its own, consuming hot water won’t make you lose weight, but it can increase your feelings of satiety, helping you feel more full so you eat less, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. In addition, the body has to use extra energy to cool down hot liquids or warm up cold ones, helping you burn a few extra calories, he says. Hot water—maybe squeeze some lemon in your water—can also be a good weight-loss tool if you’re using it to replace a caloric hot morning beverage, like coffee with sugar or tea with cream, Dr. Li-Sauerwine adds.
Everyone’s looking for home remedies for a stuffy nose—so give a drink of hot water a try. “The body produces liters of mucous every day and dry nasal secretions can make you feel congested,” Dr. Mehdizadeh says. The steam from hot water can also help loosen up congestion and unclog sinuses, Dr. Li-Sauerwine says. To get the maximum effect, try inhaling the steam before drinking it.
Easier on your teeth
Your teeth may thank you for switching from cold to warm water. According to periodontist and nutritionist Sanda Moldovan, warm water is better for the teeth and tooth restorations, and is more easily absorbed. “Certain white filling materials contract in response to cold water, causing fillings to debond off the tooth,” explains Moldovan. Again, make sure your water isn’t too hot. Any extreme temperature on the teeth can be detrimental, so try to drink your water at room temperature to keep your pearly whites happy. And, for people with sensitive teeth, warm water can be more comfortable to drink than cold water.
Better for digestion
Drinking hot water has been shown to increase esophageal motility which can help with some digestive issues, like the feeling of food getting stuck in your throat, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. However, while water is a great lubricant for your entire digestive system and is crucial to helping you absorb nutrients, the temperature won’t matter after it hits your stomach as your body will cool it down to the same temperature as the rest of you, he adds. (These are some foods that are bad for digestive health.)
Helps clear out toxins
A drink of hot water raises the core body temperature, stimulating the sweating process, which is one of the way the body eliminates toxins. Water is also critical to kidney and liver function, the main organs your body uses to clear out waste products from your body. Dr. Li-Sauerwine says. “I also recommend drinking warm water as a way to reduce the toxic effects of a hangover,” she says. “Alcohol is dehydrating and increasing your water intake can help reduce symptoms like headaches.”
Drinking hot water can improve circulation in some cases, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. “Dehydration is one cause of low blood volume and low blood pressure, drinking water will improve this,” he says. Healthier blood pressure means a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
Constipation occurs when there is little or no bowel movement and a common cause is dehydration, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. If you start each day with a drink of warm water, before eating anything, it may help stimulate a bowel movement, he says. “This may help improve gastric motility and get things moving through your gastrointestinal system,” he says.
Brain fog and distractibility are a lesser-known but common side effect of dehydration, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. “Drinking hot water can help relieve these symptoms, giving you more clarity and focus,” he says, though drinking enough water at any temperature would probably help.
Boosts your mood
“Drinking hot drinks can feel very relaxing, reducing your stress levels naturally,” Dr. Mehdizadeh says. Many people use drinking coffee or tea as a way to relax so if you enjoy drinking hot water, it will provide similar benefits, he says.
Makes you friendlier
All health benefits aside, warm water could make you friendlier. A University of Colorado Boulder study found that participants who briefly held a hot cup of coffee (versus iced) judged others as having more generous and caring personalities. In a second part of the study, participants who held a hot therapeutic pad (versus a cold one) were more likely to choose a gift for a friend than a gift for themselves. So however you drink your warm water, make sure you hold onto the cup for as long as possible. Here’s the truth about whether drinking water helps you lose weight.
- Simiao Li-Sauerwine, MD, assistant residency program director and assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
- Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist (ENT) and laryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration"
- World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer: "Fact Sheet: Cancer of the Oesophagus and Drinking Very Hot Beverages"
- American Cancer Society: "World Health Organization Says Very Hot Drinks May Cause Cancer"
- Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases: "Residential water heater temperature: 49 or 60 degrees Celsius?"
- Chest: "Effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance"
- Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, New York City
- Sanda Moldovan, MS, DDS, periodontist and nutritionist, Beverly Hills, California
- Physiological Reports: "Acute vascular effects of carbonated warm water lower leg immersion in healthy young adults"
- Luiza Petre, MD, cardiologist and weight management specialist, New York City
- British Journal of Cancer: "EGCG, a major component of green tea, inhibits tumour growth by inhibiting VEGF induction in human colon carcinoma cells"
- Science: "Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth"