Paying attention to the temperature of your water may seem like an unimportant detail when the bigger issue is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. (New research tells us we need, on average, 10 tall glasses of water a day to be adequately watered.) However, quite the opposite is true: studies reveal that varying temperatures of the water we drink can have significantly different health benefits. Plus there are age-old Chinese practices that indicate temperature matters.

While a mug of hot water first thing in the morning to start off the day is part of waking up the digestive system, and adding lemon to that hot sip will help jumpstart digestion, boost metabolism, and deliver a host of immune-building vitamin C, the temperature of your beverages for the rest of the day will determine whether your cells hydrate quickly, cool down after a workout, or even constrict blood flow, depending on what you are up to. So the temperature of your water matters.

Icy cold water post-sweat session is the perfect way to help your core temperature cool down and restore equilibrium, so athletes are correct to choose cold water to replenish after a sweat session or long run. But other times, the science points to drinking room temperature or warm water, as the best choice for rehydrating and quenching thirsty cells in your body.

There's a vast array of new scientific research behind the benefits of these different water temps, depending on the time of day, as well as what impact you're looking for. As far back as the earliest Chinese medicine known to man, the temperature of your water has been used as a way to help the body heal, recover and fight off infection, and Ayurvedic practices have long shown that temperature, speed, and even whether we are sitting down as we sip matters. (The conclusion: Don't chug, do choose tepid temps, and sitting as you sip is better.)

Water Temperature is Important and Hot, Warm and Cold Impacts Your Body Differently

According to the latest findings, if you're just going about your day, choose water that is not too cold: between 50 and 72 degrees, since it allows your system to absorb and rehydrate faster. The theory that drinking cold water helps you burn more calories (as your body has to work to warm the water to absorb it) has been largely debunked.

According to Ayurvedic practices, drinking room temperature or warm water can help your digestion and even promotes weight loss, according to Ayurvedic expert, Dr. Akhilesh Sharma.  His advice: Avoid cold water since it disrupts digestion and constricts blood flow to organs. Drinking tepid water may help digestion and promotes weight loss, as this theory goes.

So while Americans are obsessed with ice in their glass, and Europeans prefer to drink their water at room temperature (go to any restaurant and you'll see the pattern), it turns out the Continental habit of forgoing ice is healthier, since warmer water has been found to help digestion and circulation, and flush out toxins from cells faster.

If you believe in the power of old Chinese medicine practices, then hot or warm water is believed to help your body create equilibrium in humid, warm, or cold weather, to promote circulation and help your blood move the waste out of the body through your natural filters: the kidneys, liver, and ultimately your urine. So warm water wins as a default choice, according to age-old Chinese medical practices.

What is the best temperature water to drink for health and better mood? Studies tell us

You already know that staying hydrated is crucial for your health, but the latest study suggests that drinking adequate amounts of water can also help boost your mood throughout the day. So if you're feeling particularly peeved on that work call or something at home sets you off, take a long slow drink of water and breathe to calm down. Now there's added research to inform us that the temperature of the water we drink matters, and hot, warm, and cold water have an impact on your body's central nervous system, digestive system, and immune system.

How much water should you drink, and how do you know you're dehydrated? (You are.)

First and foremost, most people are not drinking enough water, of any temperature. Most people drink a fraction of the water they should. In fact, the right amount of water your body needs in a day, particularly in the cold months, is astounding. Here is a formula that involves simple math: Multiply your weight in pounds by 2/3 and that is the number of ounces of water to drink in a day. That means if you weigh 150 pounds you need to strive for 100 ounces of water daily. If you want to punch this into your calculator take your weight (for example, 130 pounds) times .67 (or 2/3) equals 87 ounces. For a 180-pound person, you should drink 120 ounces a day. That's ten full-tall glasses of water. (Not even close? Grab a glass and sip as you read on. Make a habit of constantly drinking all day long.)

Your body will naturally signal when you are in need of a tall glass of water and if you're paying close attention, it will even supply clues as to the right temperature to drink, especially under specific circumstances. You have probably experienced at least one of these situations: When you're feeling ill or have flu-like symptoms, drinking a mug of hot water can help relieve nasal congestion. When you wake up in the morning and crave hot liquid, whether it's lemon water or coffee or tea, your body could be signaling that the warm temps will help you finish digesting the food you ate the night before.

When you're exercising and all you can think about is a cold wet drink of water you're body is helping you prevent your brain from overheating. And when you're stressed or feeling down or anxious or annoyed, a simple drink of water, along with a cold compress on your forehand or a cold shower may help alleviate your symptoms. Headaches are often a physical sign that you're extremely dehydrated. How do you know you're adequately hydrated? You should pee a very light, barely yellow color. Anything darker than a light white wine color means you're not clearing toxins regularly, which can be taxing on your body.

Here are the studies that tell you when to drink hot, medium, and cold water, depending on the benefit you seek.

Getty Images

The Health Benefits of Drinking Hot and Warm Water

1. Hot water may help treat cold and or flu symptoms and relieve nasal congestion

If you have a sniffle or stuffed up nose, sore throat or cold, the mist from a steamy cup of hot water plays a big role in clearing sinuses and treating cold or flu-like symptoms.

In one study, 30 subjects suffering from the common cold or flu were separated into two groups. One group was given hot liquid and the other group was given room temperate liquid. Results suggested that the hot drink provided "immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny rose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness, and tiredness, whereas the same drink at room temperature only provided relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, and sneezing."

In another study done by doctors in Miami, researchers compared and contrasted the effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on the best way to treat a stuffed-up nose. Results showed that drinking hot water increased how quickly someone could clear their congested nasal passages, "through the nasal inhalation of water vapor," suggesting that hot water is superior to cold water to clear out your nasal passages and get over a cold faster.

2. Drinking Hot Warm Reduces Shivering, Helpful for Spending Time Outdoors

Feeling cold to the point where your teeth are chattering or your muscles shivering means your body temperature has dropped from 98.6 to a degree or more below it, since this is the body's automatic way of trying to produce heat. Whether you're hiking, skiing, swimming or just spending time outdoors in the cold, drinking adequate water is extremely important to help your body not lose more heat than it can produce, which results in hypothermia, when the body core temperature drops to 95 degrees or lower and you can suffer organ failure.

When you start to lose heat faster than you can produce it, your nervous system, heart, and other organs can't function properly and this can happen even if your temperature drops just a few degrees. One study suggests that drinking hot water at 126 degrees Fahrenheit helped participants get their body temperature heat up and spend less energy maintaining a healthy, functional state.

3. Drinking 16 ounces of Room Temperature Water Will Boost Your Metabolism

In a study of 14 healthy, normal-weight participants (seven men and seven women), results found that the subjects who drank 500 ml (or 16 ounces) of water increased their metabolic rate by 30 percent within just 10 minutes of drinking, and reached its highest rate of energy production 30 to 40 minutes after drinking. For men, blood "lipids mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate," and for women, "carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source." If you're looking to lose weight, that means that drinking a tall glass of water appears to mobilize carbs or fat, depending on your gender, but either way, burning fuel is a benefit.

4. Warm Water Aids Digestion in Post-Operative Recovery and Release from Hospital

Drinking warm water helped aid digestion for patients who had undergone laparoscopic surgery to remove their gallbladder. In a study, 60 patients were separated into two groups: The experimental (drinking warm water) and the control group. Results found that patients who drank the warm water after surgery recovered faster and experienced a "favorable impact on intestinal movements." This has implications for anyone undergoing surgery or anesthesia since generally the post-operative norm is to not leave the hospital until you've had a bowel movement, so mothers who have had a C-section and even those patients who have had their appendix out could benefit from drinking in order to move things along.

Getty Images

Health Benefits of Cold Water

1. Drinking Cold Water After a Workout May Improve Physical Performance

Athletic performance is improved by cold water, the research found: In a study of forty-five-year-old men, subjects were divided into two groups and given cold and room temperature water after they completed a 60-minute workout. The group that drank the cold water helped their body from overheating more quickly than the room temperature water. The results suggest that if you're training for a marathon or triathlon, or any other long-distance endurance event, drinking cold water can improve physical performance by 51 percent. That's the difference between finishing in the middle of the pack and a podium.

2. Cold Water Showers May Be a Potential Treatment For Depression

A study suggests that taking a cold water shower for 5 minutes daily could be a potential treatment for depression, because "exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well." Each of these brain chemicals is a jolt to the body and can help your brain feel excited, even momentarily.

The study also noted: "Due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect. Practical testing by a statistically insignificant number of people, who did not have sufficient symptoms to be diagnosed with depression, showed that cold hydrotherapy can relieve depressive symptoms rather effectively."

3. Cold Water Showers May Reduce Cardiac Stress After Exercise in Hot Environments

Taking a cold shower after a high-intensity workout such as a run or bike ride in the heat may reduce physical stress on the body and speed up recovery time. A study conducted with nine healthy male subjects in their early twenties performed cycling in hot conditions for 45 minutes and then immediately underwent the cold shower for 15 minutes. Results indicated that showering in frigid temps can promote a faster heart rate recovery, so if it's hot out, follow that ride with a cold shower or plunge to help reduce stress on the body and speed recovery.

Drinking More Water at Any Temperature is an Important for Optimal Health

Getty Images

1. Staying Hydrated May Improve Focus, Memory, and Reduce Anxiety

A study assessed the effects of mild dehydration on mood and cognitive performance among 26 male subjects between the ages of 20 and 30. Results showed that even mild dehydration caused memory impairment and left subjects experiencing increased tension, anxiety, and fatigue.

In a different but similar study, mild dehydration caused impaired cognitive function in a group of female subjects who performed moderate intermittent exercise. The study subjects found tasks were perceived to be harder and their concentration harder to maintain, even during mild dehydration. The researchers wrote that "degraded mood, increased perception of task difficulty, lower concentration, and headache symptoms resulted from 1.36% dehydration in females. Increased emphasis on optimal hydration is warranted, especially during and after moderate exercise."

2. Drinking Water May Promote Natural Weight Loss, and Timing is Everything

Drinking water while following any healthy diet is known to help people lose weight and is a fairly universal piece of advice that nutritionists give to their clients. It turns out this is sound science. if you stay hydrated, eat healthy, and exercise, the practice of drinking enough water can support your weight loss by boosting your metabolism and increasing satiety. In a study of 24 overweight men, 12 were given 500-mL orf water thirty minutes before their meal, and the other 12 ate without drinking water first. Energy intake at each meal was measured and results explained that the men who drank the water increased their energy intake, ultimately burning more calories.

Another study suggests that consuming 500 ml of water before each meal leads to greater weight loss in middle-aged and older adults. Results showed that the group that drank water before their meal showed a "44 percent greater decline in weight over the 12 weeks than the non-water group."

3. Drinking Water May Help Prevent and Treat Headaches

When you feel dehydrated, you often will experience a headache or even a migraine. One simple strategy to help reduce the pain is to hydrate and drink several glasses of water, slowly and steadily, over ten minutes or more. A new study suggests that out of the 393 participants, 41 percent of people experienced headaches as a result of being dehydrated. Some participants also experienced muscle weakness, tiredness, dizziness, and muscle cramps. So if any of these symptoms are plaguing you, the drink of water with that pain killer may be more important than the pain iller itself.

4. Drinking Water Can Help Your Kidney Function, Critical to Eliminating Toxins

Drinking enough water protects your kidneys, which act as filters to flush metabolic waste and toxins out of the body. "The kidneys are crucial in regulating water balance and blood pressure as well as removing waste from the body," according to a study by The National Institutes of Health. "If the kidneys economize on water, producing more concentrated urine, there is a greater cost in energy and more wear on their tissues. This is especially likely to occur when the kidneys are under stress, for example when the diet contains excessive amounts of salt or toxic substances that need to be eliminated." This also happens when your immune system is working overtime to fight off and kill viruses. (The dead virus cells get carted away just like any other waste or toxins that your body has no use for. Essentially these get spun out of the washing machine and drained through the urine. Consequently, drinking enough water helps protect this vital organ, the study concludes. Drink up, and drink often.