Most people prefer ice-cold water over water that is room temperature. In fact, cold or cool water is absorbed faster by your body than warmer water, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which a beneficial when you're trying to stay hydrated. Drinking ice water before, during, or after meals may help aid in digestion -- but this claim isn't necessary backed by research.
Water and Digestion
Drinking water before or after meals could help improve digestion because water helps break down food and softens stool to prevent constipation, according to Mayo Clinic. Because cold water is absorbed more quickly by your body than room-temperature water, ice water may be beneficial during digestion. However, the University of Washington notes that research doesn't back the claim that drinking water before meals aids in digestion, and more research is necessary to determine if cold water, or water at any temperature, does indeed improve digestion.
What about Hard Water?
Hard water, which is water containing high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, may aid in digestion and help reduce constipation, according to a review published in 2013 in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine. However, water temperature was not mentioned in this review. The University of Washington notes that hard water may activate enzymes that aid in fat digestion, but more research is needed to back this claim.
Ways to Improve Digestion
While drinking ice water before, with, or after your meals isn't a guarantee you'll notice improvements in digestion, other foods or supplements might do the trick. Foods and supplements containing fiber improve digestion and reduce constipation, according to MedlinePlus. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fiber supplements are good sources of fiber. When taking fiber supplements, it's important to drink plenty of water. Probiotics may also be beneficial for general digestive problems and are likely effective at reducing the duration of bouts of diarrhea, MedlinePlus notes. Probiotics are found in yogurt, other fermented milk products and probiotics supplements.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.