This article originally appeared in Well+Good.
Recently, I ordered a glass of ice water at a bar and was met with palpable disdain from my dining companion. “Why ice water?” he asked. “Cold water isn’t good for your system.” This particular friend’s mom is a practitioner of Ayurveda, an ancient medicine practice that originated in India, so it made sense that he was of this opinion.
Drinking room-temperature or warm water is recommended in Ayurveda for optimal digestion. But while I can appreciate that, I also really appreciate ice-cold water—so, I decided to investigate his claims around warm or hot water being able to help with digestion.
First and foremost, Ayurvedic practitioners believe the temperature of anything you eat or drink can play a role in digestion—not just water. “Cold liquid actually slows down the entire digestive system by constricting blood flow to the stomach and intestines and slowing enzyme secretion, which in turns can cause lymphatic stagnation and a slower metabolism,” says Surya Spa founder Martha Soffer. “Room temperature and warm water, however, have the opposite effect, helping increase circulation to your digestive system, and stimulating your ‘agni’, or digestive fire.”