Can Ice Cold Drinks Lead to Indigestion or Acid Reflux?

At HolliBalance Well-being Center, we have people come in looking for help with their acid reflux or indigestion problems. After speaking to them in depth about their dietary habits, we’ve come to the realization that they commonly consume ice cold drinks very often. Some of them enjoy iced drinks better because they’re more refreshing whilst others admitted that it’s simply because of cultural habit; cold beverages are all around and easier to access. In order to maintain a healthy metabolism, it’s important that everything we eat is close to our body’s temperature. However, it’s common for people to want to enjoy a cold beverage or consume cold food during the summer when the weather is very hot. This is because cold beverages are seemingly refreshing. However, many of us don’t realize that drinking ice water or consuming cold foods is detrimental to our health. For hundreds of years, traditional Chinese medicine has recommended against the consumption of cold beverages. However, this isn’t a common advice given in Western medicine so many people shrug the advice off because they don’t understand the reasoning behind it. It’s harder to comply with instructions when we’re unfamiliar with the reasons and benefits.


Many people prefer drinking cold beverages because they allow us to cool off and iced drinks are more refreshing. However, there is a reason as to why the Chinese advise against it. A big part of Chinese medicine is the study of the thermal nature of foods. In Chinese medicine, food is used as medicine to heal imbalances. In order to cool down, it’s much better to consume foods with a cooling nature such as watermelon and mint rather than drink iced cold water or ice chips. This is because they cause the stomach to create more heat to break down the foods which damages the entire digestive system. Although they feel very refreshing, cold beverages are not as cooling as warmer beverages because low temperatures cause vessels to contract. In Chinese medicine, excessive cold fluids exhaust our digestive system and slow down digestion. Our stomach supplies our kidney with the warmth it needs to function well. When drinking iced drinks, we weaken our ability to provide warmth to our kidneys. Kidney imbalance affects our bones and arthritis and joint pain are worsened in cold weather for this very reason. Our kidneys control our hearing as well as our entire endocrine system so in order to be healthy; we need them to work at the best of their ability and a way to do that is by avoiding iced drinks. Furthermore, cold weakens our bladder which causes frequent need to urinate.


When we eat or drink, our stomachs produce enzymes that are needed for digestion that can only survive in a specific temperature range in our body. When we consume cold food or iced drinks, our body has to counteract the temperature difference in order to preserve a suitable environment for the enzymes in our stomach for the digestion to work properly. However, when cold food and beverages enter the esophagus, it comes in contact with the warm vaporized fluid in the lungs. The result is phlegm that is formed in the lungs which lowers the lungs’ functions and capacity. This phlegm blocks the free flow of energy up and down the body which can impair our ability to maintain a normal temperature. Ingesting cold foods and iced beverages over time can lead to coughs, dry skin and many more symptoms. This is because when ingested, cold substances generate enough body heat to warm up the digestive tract. Later on, the heat generated is dispersed on the body temperature drops. However, the stomach temperature doesn’t drop back to its normal temperature and it stays a little higher than usual. After a long time of this happening, the stomach gradually becomes overheated. This will cause the excess stomach heat to escape up the esophagus which results in dry mouth, dry skin and constant thirst and more prominently acid reflux. Another symptom is that foods will rot while in the gut much faster than that of a person with a healthy digestive tract. This can lead to constant hunger which results in overeating and weight gain.

It is crucial to understand that long-term consumption of cold drinks significantly influences our long-term health because it detriments our kidneys. Our kidneys represent the root of our body. It’s not wise to hurt our kidneys for the very short-lived pleasure of a cold drink. Small choice such as drinking hot water or a cup of tea instead of iced water can make a significant difference in our life. Here at HolliBalance, we advise people to consume warm drinks rather than cold ones and they see great improvement in their symptoms and their digestion. Enjoying drinks at room temperature goes a long way for our body and our well-being.

If interested in learning more about food in traditional Chinese medicine, please refer to our previous blog post:Plant Based Diet and Traditional Chinese Medicine

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One Response to “Can Ice Cold Drinks Lead to Indigestion or Acid Reflux?”

  1. An Analogy to Effective Weight Losson 10 Feb 2016 at 1:13 am

    […] our digestive system. There are many common practices and habits in our society, such as drinking ice cold drinks, eating greasy food and eating late, that make us more prone to getting digestive system issues. […]

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