[FACT OR FAKE #100] Drinking Cold Water After A Meal Is Bad For Your Health

It's been claimed, time and again, that drinking cold water after a meal is bad for health. The claims are so widespread that they are prominent both on and off the Internet. We decided to pick up the topic to mark the 100th feature of our FACT OR FAKE column, to see how much of it all is actually supported by actual scientific research.

Cover image via

Anyone who has been on the Internet since the late 2000, have most definitely read or received messages that claims that drinking cold water after a meal is bad for health because it will either solidify "oily stuff" present in the food consumed and will lead to cancer, or cause heart attacks.

Such claims about the harms of cold water have circulated since years now, making gullible population of the Internet an easy prey.

Image via Mandmx

One of the "theories" behind a claim is that, we've all seen how grease solidifies when it cools, such as in your drains. Well, your intestines are exactly like drains, right? So drinking cold water after a fatty meal will make what you eat solidify in your guts! e.g.:


A very good article which takes two minutes to read. This is a very good article. Not only about the warm water after your meal, but about Heart Attacks.

The Chinese and Japanese drink hot tea with their meals, not cold water, maybe it is time we adopt their drinking habit while eating.

For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

Common Symptoms Of Heart Attack... A serious note about heart attacks

You should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. 60% of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know, the better chance we could survive.

A cardiologist says if everyone who reads this post shares it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life. Read this & Send to a friend. It could save a life... So, please be a true friend and share this article to all your friends you care about."

However, as first reported by websites like Hoax Slayer and Snopes, there is absolutely no credible evidence to back up these claims

There is no mention of a connection between drinking cold water and cancer on the National Cancer Institute website or in other reputable cancer health resources. If the information in the message were true, it would be well documented by both the medical establishment and the media. It is a very common practice to consume cold water or other cold beverages at mealtime. Therefore any connections between cold water and cancer would have long since been extensively studied and reported. As is common with such "warnings", the message contains no external references to back up its far-fetched claims.

As for the act of drinking water immediately after eating something being bad for you, those claims have also been kicking about for a bit, as evidenced by this entry from a book of common misconceptions published in 1923:

"That it is Bad to Drink Water Directly after Eating Fruit
This idea used to be extremely popular at the Cape when the author was there nearly 40 years ago. He has inquired of a Wimpole Street physician (who was also formerly at the Cape), and cannot find that there is any truth in the belief, except the general one that it is not good to dilute the gastric juices too much after eating anything, and especially, of course if the food be indigestible."

Far more recently, we found on the Internet the advice to "drink water at room temperature if possible, as ice-cold water can harm the delicate lining of your stomach." If the lining of the human stomach were that delicate, our tummies would not long survive their being constantly bathed in strong digestive acids.

Conclusion? FAKE!

Here's a good general tip: If the person giving you medical advice seems to easily confuse cancer and heart attacks, they might not know what they're talking about as is clearly evident by the logically flawed conclusions in the claims!

The stomach's natural heat will bring all contents to a uniform temperature soon after eating. Even ice-cold water would not stay cold long enough inside the stomach to actually "solidify the oily stuff". Moreover, according to BBC Science and Nature: 'As soon as food enters your stomach, your stomach lining releases enzymes that start breaking down proteins in the food. Your stomach lining also secretes hydrochloric acid, which creates the ideal conditions for the protein-digesting enzymes to work.'

This chemical break down, along with rhythmic muscular contractions, turns all of the stomach's contents into a thick semi-liquid mass called chyme and moves it into the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine. Thus, even if cold water did solidify oily substances in the stomach contents (highly improbable), the resulting "sludge" would soon be converted into chyme and it would not enter the duodenum more rapidly than any other material.

Some alternative health sources do claim that cold water can slow digestion, although such claims are not supported by modern medical science. However, even if this slowing did occur, it would certainly not fundamentally disrupt digestion in the way described in the message nor would it lead to cancer.

Thus, it is perfectly safe to drink cold water with or after your meals. While you're at it, know that it is also perfectly safe to drink warm beverages with or after your meal!

Meanwhile, we have all literally grown up hearing milk slogans like, it's good for our body, it's a natural thing to drink, it builds strong bones and makes us grow faster, etc. But do kids really need to drink milk?

You may be interested in: