America prefers to drink cool or ice-cold water. This is mainly brought about by the early introduction of and adaption to refrigeration in the US. Cold water and beverages make Americans feel more refreshed—like drinking ice-cold beer or soda on a hot summer day. In other parts of the world, especially in China, drinking hot or warm water and beverages is the norm, mainly because of the health benefits associated with it.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the warmth is the most important thing dictating all physiological functions in our body. This warmth is called Qi. The Spleen Qi is the most important that manifests how our entire body functions and keeps our body alive. Once your stomach receives the food, it is the Spleen Qi that starts to transform the essence of that food into useful energy. When we constantly drink iced or refrigerated fluids, the cold causes the energy, or your Spleen Qi to slow down and harden, creating the basis for unwanted symptoms such as pain and chronic diseases to develop. While these symptoms do not manifest immediately, they develop over time initially affecting our metabolism and digestion before spreading to other organs of the body. These block the meridian channels, slow down blood circulation, and compromise organ functions to less than optimal ability.
Our body organs cannot immediately metabolize fluids that are below 37 degree Celsius core body temperature. This includes 22 degrees room temperature water. So the body is forced to work harder, wasting energy in order to make cold drinks warm enough for the body to use. This energy could have been better spent on healing illness, increasing immunity, etc.
Your body gets all of its energy and nutrition from the process that begins in the spleen and stomach. It is crucial to keep the Spleen Qi energy to flow smoothly and drinking warm water and/or beverages will help ensure that.
Fitness tip: Never drink cold drink immediately after an exercise. Drinking cold water immediately after an exercise tends to shock the organs and does not aid in helping the body to properly and naturally cool down. This is because during exercise, internal body heat moves to the body’s surface causing sweating and hot exterior sensations, while in fact the interior has become cooler. So drinking cold water or beverage aggravates the already-cold interior. Drinking warm water will help body’s surface cool down naturally.
When eating out, start with a cup of hot water with a few slices of lemon in it. This will ready the stomach for the food intake. Slowly incorporate drinking warm water in your daily routine. Try it the first thing when you wake up in the morning, before you eat, and between your daily activities. Do this for a week and experience the health benefits. You will likely see some changes in your digestion, mood and energy levels. You can also see some improvements from many chronic problems that you may be dealing with, like a decrease in menstrual pain or alleviation from mood swings or anxieties.