Cold water hurts stomach

We all know about stomach acid and how it helps us digest the food we eat. But did you know that this acid in your stomach is so strong that it can even dissolve metal?

Stomach acid, also called gastric acid or gastric juice, is composed of Hydrochloric acid (HCl), potassium chloride (KCl), and sodium chloride (NaCl). The concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is about 0.5 percent or 5,000 parts per million.

Hydrochloric acid acts as the first line of defense against bacterial and viral infections.

Various germs enter our stomach when we eat and breathe, but these germs cannot survive because of the Hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

How strong is stomach acid?

Acids are measured on a scale known as the pH scale with a range from 0 to 14. The lower the pH level, the more strongly acidic the fluid.

The pH of a healthy stomach is usually 1.0-2.0.This low pH level of stomach fluids typically keeps it free of microbes. But at the same time, these pH levels put stomach acid in almost the same category as battery acid, which can dissolve steel.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. You can also find Nidhi on Google+.

Here’s why your stomach acid doesn’t burn through the lining

James LilleyFollow Oct 7, 2018 · 7 min read Stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve metal

I know what you’re thinking because I thought: if the acid in your stomach is strong enough to dissolve metal, why doesn’t it burn right through the lining of the stomach?

That’s a great question but before we get to the answer lets back up and start at the beginning.

Good digestion starts in the mouth. The more times you chew your food the less work your stomach has to do. Think of it this way, the better you chew, the better you poo. Once swallowed, food travels down a long tube called the esophagus. At the end of that tube is a small muscular valve that opens up just enough to allow the food to drop into a bath of stomach acid — splash!

But wait, there’s a problem. Can you see it?

This stomach acid (also known as hydrochloric acid, or HCL) needs to be strong enough to turn whatever we just ate into a liquid mush, this helps with absorption.

The stomach has been working this way since the beginning of time and you kinda have to marvel at the design. Once the food has been turned into a liquid mush it is ready to move onto the next stage.

Food drops down the shoot into a bath of acid — — splosh! Food turns into liquid mush; then mush oozes out a little at a time into the small intestine, so far so good, right?. Meh, not so fast…

The whole process of digestion hinges on this pivotal stage. But what if the stomach acid has become weak through illness, neglect, abuse, or simply through time?

If the acid isn’t strong enough, a whole chain reaction of negative events can begin to unfold. Not least, valuable nutrients will struggle to be fully absorbed. Obviously, we need these nutrients to power and rebuild our cells.


Bloating, belching, flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation are all clues that something isn’t quite right with the stomach. In certain circumstances, a person with weak stomach acid may also suffer from heartburn. Wait a second, did you catch that?

But isn’t heartburn treated by the million-dollar antacid industry? If only it were that simple.

If this is you, my question is this: how have years of taking antacids been working for you? Has it fixed the problem or does it just keep coming back, again and again, and again?

Obviously stomach acid is strong for a reason. Some believe that antacids only add to the problem by making already low stomach acid even lower. The stomach then strives to balance itself out, but it cannot correct the problem with a belly full of alkaline pills. Now you are caught in a constant dance with yourself. Sometimes, we need to get out of the way and let the body do the job it was designed to do.

Obviously, if you are taking a prescription antacid that is something you need to work out with your doctor to ensure this approach is right for you. While you are there, it might be worth getting tested for H-pylori which is a type of bacteria ALSO known to reduce stomach acid … just sayin’.


It’s thought that a lack of stomach acid allows the valve at the end of the esophagus to open back up. This valve, also known as the lower esophageal sphincter (or LES), is a muscle that contracts much the same way the anus does. Its job is to form an important seal to keep the acid from slipping back up into the esophagus where it can cause damage and heartburn.

Some schools of thought suggest that the LES valve has some degree of sensitivity to the acid in the stomach. When the stomach acid is too low it may be fooled into opening back up. Hence, all those antacids aren’t really helping the problem and it may be worth trying a different approach. For now, the problem is much bigger than heartburn. Weak stomach acid has a domino effect throughout the remaining stages of digestion. The liquid mush we mentioned earlier becomes a semifluid mass of partly digested food. The fancy name for it is chyme or chymus. It’s then expelled by the stomach into the duodenum.

Without wanting to confuse you with lots of fancy names let’s just work with the primary rule of physics and say that all shit rolls downhill. And in this case, the liquid mush passes a whole bunch of important sensory checkpoints on the way down. These checkpoints scrutinize the quality of the mush (AKA chyme), but for now, we’ll just call it liquid mush.

In theory, if the quality of the stomach acid is good, so is the quality of the liquid mush. If not, then it’s a case of too bad, so sad, because when it comes to shit there really is no going backward.

Once our liquid mush enters the small intestine, enzymes are eagerly waiting to break things down even more. This can present a problem if the hydrochloric acid in the stomach is strong enough to do its job properly.


The three main enzymes the body uses to aid in digestion are amylase, protease, and lipase, but many other specialized enzymes also help in the process. Cells that line the intestines also make enzymes called maltase, sucrase, and lactase, and each is able to convert a specific type of sugar into glucose. We need these enzymes to help us absorb our nutrients.

Do we need to know all these terms as a layperson? Probably not, but I know it disturbs some people when I use terms like liquid mush and shit.- I digress …

Two more enzymes by the names of renin and gelatinase then come into play. Renin acts on proteins in milk, converting them into smaller molecules called peptides. These are then fully digested by pepsin. I know, right? Who thinks like this?

Gelatinase digests gelatin and collagen — two large proteins in meat — into moderately-sized compounds whose digestion is then completed by pepsin, trypsin, and chymotrypsin, producing amino acids. Yadda, yadda, yadda.


If weak stomach acid allows partially undigested food to move through the digestive system, the whole delicate balance is disrupted. A domino effect occurs as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas also pick up on the lack of acidity in the liquid mush and react accordingly. If weak acid in the stomach isn’t doing its job optimally, it’s a safe bet that neither is anything else.

Rather than trying to bolt the stable door after the horse has fled, it might be prudent to pay particular attention to increase stomach acid. Strong stomach acid also plays an important role in protecting us from bacteria that may be on ingested food.


In some people, it’s thought that chemotherapy can reduce stomach acid. If this is you, you may notice a sudden increase in acid reflux and this becomes all the more relevant.

To recap:

We need strong stomach acid to help us break down our foods, especially proteins. Strong stomach acid also helps kill off any harmful bacteria that may come in with food. Weak stomach acid can cause a whole host of health problems.

Before we get into this next part, let me once again stress that the following information should serve as a guide only. It cannot and should not be substituted for medical advice.

Okay, here’s one way I test to see if my stomach acid is running low.

1 First thing in the morning, mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 4–6 ounces of room temp water.

2 Drink the baking soda on an empty stomach.

3 Time how long it takes before you belch.

4 If you have not belched within five minutes, stop timing.

In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll likely belch within two to three minutes. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid (but don’t confuse these burps with small little burps from swallowing air while drinking the solution). Any belching after 3 minutes indicates a low acid level.

Because we are all uniquely different, timeframes may vary a little. This test is only a basic indicator and you might want to do more testing to determine the level of your stomach acid with your doctor. This test is a guide and not to be considered accurate enough to rule out low stomach acid. To rule out low stomach acid you will need to also try what’s called the Heidelberg test or Betaine HCL challenge test.


If stomach acid is found to be too low, there are lots of ways to increase it. One is to use a supplement called Betaine HCL, (which is best taken with protein).

Another is to take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) 10 mins before each meal to help increase stomach acid. Simply mix the ACV in 8 oz. of room temp water and drink (for health, not taste).

If your doctor says it’s okay to do so, you can raise your stomach acid by mixing one freshly squeezed lemon, 4 oz. of water, approximately three knuckles of chopped raw ginger, and a half teaspoon of sea salt.

Leave this mixture to pickle for a few days and then take a teaspoon of the mixture before meals. It’s an acquired taste, but if your stomach acid is low your body may even begin to crave it. As with anything new, start with a small test dose and go slow.

If you take only one thing away from this, then let it be the value of your stomach acid. Putting our health back together is a process. And slowly, piece by piece, blog by blog, we are now bringing pieces of the puzzle into view.

So you are probably still wondering why strong stomach acid doesn’t burn through the stomach. The short answer is that the stomach has a mucous membrane. It’s a wall of cells that are constantly replaced; as one layer burns through, another steps in to replace it.

Homework: Check out this book

Could you be suffering with low or high stomach acid?

Could you be suffering with low or high stomach acid?

Contrary to popular belief, indigestion is usually caused by low stomach acid — also called hypochlorhydria — and it affects up to half of our population.

Unfortunately doctors don’t check to see if you are suffering from high or low stomach acid and will prescribe a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) such as Omeprozole, Pantaprozole, Lanzaprosole or you may reach for an antacid over the counter.

PPI’s are only meant for short term use of a maximum of 8 weeks. They have side effects of blocking the absorption of certain nutrients so long term this can lead to other imbalances in your body. Antacids are only meant for occasional use for the same reason.

These medications just suppress your symptoms. It’s important to understand what has caused the problem and heal your body from this “root cause”.

It’s important to know if you are suffering from high or low stomach acid because the nutritional support is different.

If you have low stomach acid you could be suffering from any of these symptoms:

  • Bloating, belching, burning sensation, wind after meals
  • Feeling particularly full after eating
  • Indigestion/heartburn/acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Burning sensation 30-40 mins after eating
  • Diarrhea/constipation
  • Food allergies/intolerances
  • Nausea
  • Itch around the rectum
  • Weak, peeling and cracking nails
  • Thread veins around cheek and nose
  • Acne/dry skin
  • Iron deficient anaemia/B12 deficiency
  • Hair loss in women
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Parasites
  • Candida
  • Dysbiosis
  • Undigested food in your stools
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Low bone density
  • Poor immunity
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • No symptoms

Some causes of low stomach acid:

  • Stress
  • A diet rich in processed foods/mineral deficiency (certain minerals are needed for the production of HCL)
  • Smoking
  • Some medications
  • Helicobacter Pylori infection – this infection neutralizes and decreases the secretion of HCL to aid it’s survival
  • Alcohol/caffeine
  • Low protein/high carbohydrate diet
  • Aging – the production of HCL slows down as you age
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Zinc deficiency – this can be a catch 22 situation. You need zinc to make stomach acid, but you need stomach acid to absorb zinc
  • History of eating disorders

If you have high stomach acid you could be suffering from any of these symptoms:

  • Burning sensation immediately after eating
  • GERD
  • Worse lying down at night
  • Ulcers
  • Burping
  • A sensation of food being stuck in your throat
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Triggers for high stomach acid

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol over consumption
  • Caffeine over consumption
  • Some medications
  • Being over weight
  • Excessive exercise
  • A diet high in refined, processed foods
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Food intolerances
  • Pregnancy

You need Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) in your stomach for many functions:

Stomach acid or hydrochloric acid (HCl), is a very powerful digestive agent, and much more important than you realize.

  • To break down proteins into smaller molecules
  • For your stomach to empty properly
  • As a line of defense against pathogenic bacteria and yeast found in our food
  • Your stomach needs an acid pH to absorb certain nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, B12, selenium and boron
  • To stimulate the pancreas and small intestines to produce digestive enzymes and bile to break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If all your food is not broken down properly in your stomach this leads to problems further down in your digestive tract
  • To prevent disease by killing “bad” bacteria and yeast present in food.

You can test to see if your stomach acid is too high or too low.

  1. First thing one morning, on an empty stomach, before eating, drinking, brushing teeth
  2. Add 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda to 100mls slightly warm water
  3. Drink the mixture (it may taste slightly salty)
  4. Time for a burp!!! Don’t expect this to be a belch. It should feel like little air bubbles coming up from your stomach to your throat. You are doing a little chemistry experiment in your stomach. Mixing the alkalinitity of the bicarb with the acidity in your stomach. Obviously this isn’t a super scientific test but it does give you an indication.
  5. Do this test 3 days in a row to get an average result.
  • Optimal burp time 1-2mins
  • If you burp before 1 mins your stomach acid is too high and we need to calm digestive fire
  • If you burp between 2-3mins you have slightly low levels of stomach acid
  • If you burp between 3-5 mins your stomach acid is low
  • Anything after 5 mins and you have super low or no stomach acid
  • There are specific nutritional protocols to help your body get back to balance depending on your results.

“For pure hydration, there’s nothing better than room-temperature water,” says Snyder. Interestingly enough, prioritizing warm beverages is a key component of both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (or TCM)—it’s believed to promote health and balance in many respects. From a more Western POV, scientists are relatively split: Some research suggests that in forcing the body to expend energy to warm itself up, drinking cold water can negatively impact exercise performance and delay hydration. On the flip side, others argue that this impact is minimal and that the best temperature for hydration is whichever will inspire you to drink more water.

But it’s a little more clear-cut when it comes to digestion—studies show that extreme temperatures really do have an impact on our body’s ability to metabolize food. “Room-temperature water and warm herbal teas keep fats as liquids, easing digestion and helping to move them through our bodies,” says Snyder.

In the end, if you’re staying hydrated, you’re already doing something right—but these nuances are fascinating to consider nonetheless.

Averse to drinking water? Here are six ways to trick yourself into hydration.


Forget politics—ice water is one of the most divisive issues in America today. Some people swear by its chilly ability to refresh while others plead “brain freeze!” and shy away. But in the wellness world, there’s a group that takes it even further, claiming that ice water isn’t only unpleasant but bad for your health.

The notion has its roots in ayurveda. “Your internal temperature is 98 degrees; therefore, we should drink our water with a similar temperature for absorption,” explains Sahara Rose, an ayurvedic expert and author of the modern ayurvedic cookbook Eat Feel Fresh. “When we drink cold water, our body has to expend a lot of energy to increase the temperature of the water to our internal organs, leaving us with less energy for healing and mental function.” Many ayurvedic practitioners—Rose among them—recommend consuming only warm water or even hot water (or tea) to keep digestion at its optimal state.

But does Western science agree?

Well—kind of. “As you might guess, there is little scientific research on the benefits of drinking warm water, although it’s advocated in many cultures,” says Amy Shah, M.D., a Columbia and Harvard-trained doctor and mbg Collective member. “The only thing that really is plausible scientifically is that by drinking cold water, you are constricting your blood vessels and may not have good absorption, whereas when you drink warm water, your blood vessels are more dilated.” She notes that this is why tea is recommended by many doctors for patients with a cold. “The blood vessels dilate and the mucus travels faster out of your nasal cavities,” she says.

Plot twist, though—despite the lack of Western studies, Shah herself is an advocate for eschewing ice water. “After all of my medical training, I’ve come to realize there’s a lot that we don’t know, especially when it comes to gut health and the immune system. These are areas that we don’t understand well with our traditional medical model.”

According to ayurveda, Shah has primarily vata energy, which is one of the types that especially benefits from having warmer liquid. “I found this to be so beneficial for me and for my patients who also have this tendency.” She also notes that her patients who have sluggish digestion benefit from consuming warmer beverages.

Another benefit of warm water? It provides the perfect medium for steeping herbs, spices, and teas, which can further aid in digestion and gut health. Rose makes a version with cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and fennel. “It’s so balancing for your digestive system and delicious,” she says.

In general, doctors stress that the most important thing is consuming an adequate amount of water daily—meaning that the method that will get you to drink up is the best one for your body. That said, if you’re suffering from gut or digestive issues, or if you want to explore the healing modalities of ayurveda, it might be worth sipping room temperature or warm water for a week or two and seeing how you feel. At the very least, you’ll avoid a brain freeze.

7 Shocking Facts About Drinking Water Cold Vs. Room Temperature

Have you ever noticed a difference in how you feel when drinking cold versus room temperature water? If not, there’s a good chance you at least have a preference for one or the other, when it comes to what you reach for when you’re thirsty. And there are several possible reasons for that.

The stomach reacts differently to cold water, than it does to warm, which can in turn affect digestion. The temperature of water can also impact your circulation, according to experts, and can even contribute to things like headaches. When it comes to hydration, though, it’s important to keep in mind that water is water, no matter the temp.

“All water is good,” Dr. Jill Blakeway, a licensed and board-certified doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and founder and clinical herbalist at Yinova, tells Bustle. “Cold water is refreshing and cooling. It’s great on a hot day and a good choice after exercise.”

But you can feel free to choose whichever temperature you like best. “Drinking warm water may be better in some instances where as drinking cold water might also be more beneficial,” registered dietician Vanessa Rissetto, tells Bustle. “It really boils down to preference and what you feel might be right for you.” Read on for more facts about cold versus room temperature water, according to experts.

1. Room Temperature Water Can Make You Less Thirsty

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Drinking warmer water can actually make you less thirsty, which is something to keep in mind if you’re trying to stay hydrated. “This can be dangerous on days when your body is losing water through sweating to try to keep cool,” Rissetto says. “If you do opt to drink warm water, be aware that you may not feel thirsty as often as you should.”

2. Cold Water Is Beneficial After A Workout

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

While water of any temperature will help rehydrate you after a workout, going for cold water may be a good idea if you’re feeling hot and sweaty. “Cold water is cooling so it can be helpful during exercise or when you are overheated,” Dr. Blakeway says. That’s why you may want to keep an icy water bottle with you, to sip on post-run.

3. Room Temperature Water Aids In Digestion

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For the most efficient digestion, drinking room temperature — or even warm water — is where it’s at. “In Chinese medicine we advocate drinking warm water because of its effect on the digestive system,” Dr. Blakeway says. “Drinking cold water can congeal the fats in food and because of that can make the digestive system sluggish.”

4. Cold Water Can Give You A Headache

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

One study revealed that drinking cold water can make it more likely you’ll get a headache, Dr. Blakeway says. And it even increase your chances of getting a migraine.

5. Room Temperature Water Combats Constipation


“Unlike cold water, warm water improves circulation and can relax muscles, combat constipation and abdominal cramping,” Dr. Blakeway says. If you’re feeling a little uncomfortable, a room temperature glass of water, or even a warm cup of tea, can help relax the stomach muscles and get things moving.

6. Cold Water Can Stuff Up Your Sinuses

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According to Dr. Blakeway, studies have shown that drinking cold water can make the mucus in your sinuses thicker, and therefore more difficult to pass. So if you’re sick, and need to blow your nose a lot, warmer water will be your new best friend.

7. Room Temperature Water Boosts Metabolism

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Drinking warmer water can increase your overall body temperature. And that can be beneficial for your metabolism, Dr. Blakeway says.

And yet, when it comes time to grab a glass of water, it’s really up to you whether you pour it straight out of the fridge, or go for water that’s room temperature. There are benefits and downsides to both, so it should be all about your personal preference.

How to avoid traveler’s diarrhea

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Don’t drink the water. That’s the advice you may have heard for avoiding traveler’s diarrhea. While it’s a good start, the devil is in the details.

“There are more nuances to it than just avoiding drinking the water,” says Dr. Cindy Kermott, a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine physician. “Foods and drinks that come in contact with water can put you at risk too.”

One traveler’s diarrhea culprit could be ice cubes in your drink. Kermott says ice cubes can carry the bug that creates pain in your belly and a cramp in your vacation.

“People don’t think about the water that’s in those ice cubes,” she says.

Kermott says another common way people develop traveler’s diarrhea is by eating raw, sliced fruits.

“Those fruits are washed in water. You can’t have those. You can have fresh fruits, but you have to peel it yourself,” she says.

In addition to the fruits you peel, Kermott suggests eating only well-cooked meals and drinking bottled water. Avoid salads and raw, cut vegetables. If you must use tap water, boil it first.

Read more about preventing traveler’s diarrhea.

If you do get traveler’s diarrhea, avoid caffeine and dairy products, which may worsen symptoms or increase fluid loss. But keep drinking fluids.

Traveler’s diarrhea usually resolves itself without treatment. However, it’s a good idea to have doctor-approved medications with you when you travel to high-risk areas, in case diarrhea persists.

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Your Digestion Could Be a Matter of Degree

Your tongue may crave the icy temperature of an ice pop on a steamy summer day, but your digestion may rebel.

“Some people perspire after drinking cold liquids,” says Mark Mattar MD, a clinician and assistant professor of medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C.

The body likes to keep its core temperature steady at about 100° F., which is when the best digestion occurs. If cold temperatures — such as ice water or cold food in the diet — enter the stomach, the body works quickly to warm it.

A Centuries-Old Science

Temperature — of the body, weather, or the foods you eat — and its effects on digestion has intrigued physicians and scientists for at least 100 years. A well-regarded professor of several New York hospitals at the turn of the last century, the late William Gilman Thompson MD, included a chapter on the topic in his 1905 book, Practical Dietetics With Special Reference to Diet in Disease.

In it, he writes: “One may begin a dinner with iced raw oysters, then take hot soup, and later conclude the meal with ice cream, followed by hot coffee,” he said of a proposed diet. “And yet throughout, the temperature of the stomach contents does not vary so much as half a degree.”

Dr. Thompson came to his conclusions based on the outcomes of “many experiments which I have made upon patients…to whom I have given fluids at different temperatures, which were immediately siphoned out of the stomach and tested for heat loss or gain.”

Warm Is Better

Even on a hot day, warm liquids generally soothe the system, Mattar said. Colonoscopy patients find warm liquids infused in the colon help alleviate pain or spasms. And anecdotally, he said, the wisdom from our grandmothers was to drink warm liquids — the belief being that warmth caused the muscles to relax — even the minuscule muscles that support the blood vessels.

It’s also likely that the body’s preference for warmth has to do with the latest frontier in biology, the microbiome — those trillions of microscopic bugs that live in the gut, he said.

In the lab, these microorganisms thrive in incubation. Although these bugs like a warm host, even they have their limit. While hot cocoa on a hot day probably would be fine, Mattar said, “if it’s hotter than 100 degrees, your body will try to cool it down.”

Air Temperature

In warm climates, the blood vessels open and more hormones circulate to aid in all systems, including digestion, Mattar said. In cold climates, everything slows down, but not too much.

In fact, the change is so subtle, the effects of air temperature on digestion usually goes unnoticed — except in extreme cases when the core temperature drops and hypothermia sets in. Treatment generally includes blankets and possibly intravenous fluids that are a little warmer than room temperature. “You don’t want to shock the system,” he said.

Illness and Diseases

In the opposite extreme, when hotter becomes the new normal, there is no real consensus on treatment, Mattar said. Some people recommend blankets and warm drinks, despite the discomfort, while others report the body should be kept cool to let the fever take its course.

Thompson added that while “cooling drinks have long been used fevers…to this day one occasionally meets with opposition from mothers to giving a child with high fever anything really cold.”

Ice also can be effective in relieving nausea, and hot liquids aid in “cleansing the mucous membrane,” Thompson said. Likewise “hot-air baths…are of undoubted service” in treating kidney disease.

And despite the body’s quick response to cold drinks, the cold still can irritate the bowel, possibly causing diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain, Mattar said, but that’s not true for everyone.

“I myself love freezing cold water,” he said. “But if my wife drinks it, her stomach will hurt.”

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance Can be Controlled Through Diet

August 26, 2011

Dear Mayo Clinic:

I used to be able to eat and drink dairy products without a problem, but lately they make me feel gassy and bloated. Does this mean I’m lactose intolerant? Would that mean giving up all dairy? I am 42 and have never had any allergies.


If you regularly develop digestive symptoms shortly after consuming milk or other dairy products, you may indeed have lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to fully digest lactose, the sugar that’s in milk and other milk products. This is caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme that’s responsible for breaking lactose into two simpler sugars — glucose and galactose — which can be absorbed into your bloodstream. When levels of the lactase enzyme are too low, eating something like a bowl of ice cream or a slice of cheesy pizza can cause a number of signs and symptoms, including abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea and nausea.

However, to confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may suggest that you take a hydrogen breath test. This test requires you to drink a lactose-loaded beverage and then have your breath analyzed over a 90-minute period. When lactose isn’t properly digested, hydrogen levels typically go up in the breath.

Sometimes, people mistake lactose intolerance for a milk allergy. But a milk allergy is caused by an immune system response to one or more milk proteins and usually appears very early in life. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, occurs more often in adulthood.

Your body typically produces plenty of the lactase enzyme at birth and during early childhood. In fact, it’s rare for babies to be born with lactose intolerance. However, as you get older, you naturally start to lose some of the enzyme, or stop producing as much of it. This decline can lead to symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Another factor that can make you more prone to lactose intolerance is your ethnic background. Research has shown that being black, Asian, Hispanic or American Indian increases your risk. Having certain digestive disorders — such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease — also can make you more likely to develop lactose intolerance as a secondary condition. That’s because these problems can cause damage to your small intestine, where the lactase enzyme is produced.

The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be controlled through diet. At first, it may be recommended that you eliminate all dairy products to see if your symptoms resolve. However, most people can tolerate small amounts of lactose, so it’s usually not necessary to completely avoid dairy products from then on.

If you haven’t had any dairy products in a while, you may want to gradually reintroduce them into your diet. Research shows that most people can tolerate 12 grams of lactose at a time — the equivalent of 1 cup of milk. Some dairy products, such as yogurt and hard cheeses, contain less concentrated amounts of lactose, which could make them easier to digest in small amounts. You may also be able to lessen symptoms of lactose intolerance by consuming dairy products along with a meal or other foods that don’t contain lactose.

Many stores also carry lactose-free and lactose-reduced milk and other products. I’ve recommended them as an alternative for some people, but they may not be helpful in everyone. This also applies to lactase enzyme drops or pills taken by mouth — some people find them beneficial, but they haven’t been well studied.

A big concern with restricting dairy products is that you won’t get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. To make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of these nutrients, talk with your doctor about your diet and whether taking supplements would be a good option for you.

— Jean Fox, M.D., Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

5 Reasons Why You Should Not Drink Chilled Water This Summer

Does your first ritual after coming back from office involve running to the refrigerator and grabbing a bottle of chilled water to quench your thirst and whisk the exhaustion of the day away? After all, who doesn’t want the cooling respite in this scorching heat? Delhi’s temperature has already crossed 40 degrees C, which is considered to be the threshold for an official heat-wave announcement. With mercury rising everyday, it feels necessary to chug down icy-chilled water as often as possible. But did you know, what you have been deeming as an excellent thirst quencher may be taking a toll on your digestive tract? And the cooler the water, the harsher are the consequences.
Ayurveda advises against the practice of drinking chilled water no matter how hot it gets. In the The Complete Book Of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, under unhealthy eating habits, it states, “drinking very chilled water during a meal or any time.” The reason being that it can disturb the normal functioning of the gastric juices and also upset the balance of doshas. The book also recommends how one should not even have iced-drinks during meals, and “sip a little warm water between mouthfuls of food” instead.
(Also read:World Water Day: 6 Clever Tips to Reduce Water Wastage at Home)
Here are a couple of reasons why you should make a switch from chilled water to normal room temperature water – 1. Restricts Digestion
Experts claim that chilled water and even cold beverages contract your blood vessels, thereby restricting digestion. It also hinders the natural process of absorbing nutrients during digestion. The body’s focus is diverted from digestion as it tries to regulate your body temperature and that of the water, which can actually cause water loss and make you feel dehydrated. The normal temperature of the body is 37 degree C, and when you consume something of a very low temperature, your body compensates by spending energy to regulate this temperature. This extra energy that is now used to regulate the temperature would have been originally used in the process of digestion and absorbing nutrients. This is why it is always advisable to have water at room temperature.

2. Sore Throat
Another very obvious reason, for which even your elders have been preventing you from gulping down cold water, is your increased chances of getting a sore throat and stuffy nose. Drinking chilled water, especially after a meal, results in the build up of excess mucus (respiratory mucosa), which forms the protective layer of the respiratory tract. However, when the tract gets congested, it becomes vulnerable to many inflammatory infections.

3. Inhibits Breakdown of Fats
Experts also say that if you drink chilled water just after your meal, the chilled temperature would solidify the fats from the foods you have just consumed, making it tough for your body to break down the unwanted fats in your body. It is anyway not suggested to drink water immediately after your meal. Bangalore-based nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood suggests keeping a window of 30 minutes after a meal and before you drink water.
(Also read: Why You Shouldn’t Drink Water Immediately After Meals)
4. Could Decrease Heart Rate
Some studies have also shown that cold water may have a role to play in decreasing your heart rate. Drinking ice water supposedly stimulates the tenth cranial nerve – the vagus nerve. This nerve is a significant part of the body’s autonomous nervous system, and it mediates the lowering of heart rate. When you consume chilled water, the low temperatures of the water stimulates the nerve to cause the heart rate to drop.

5. The Shock Factor
It is also not advisable to have chilled water after a workout. Gym experts suggest taking a glass of warm water after a workout. When you workout, there’s a lot of heat generated, and if you drink ice-cold water immediately after, the mismatch of temperatures may take a toll on your digestive tract. In addition to that, your body cannot absorb the chilled water, therefore it’s of no use. Some people also complain of a chronic pain in the stomach due to the intake of chilled water right after workout. This is because ice-cold water comes as a shock to your body.
Comments(Also read: Drinking Water After Eating Watermelon: Is it Safe or Not?)
These reasons don’t mean that you cut down on your water consumption completely. In the soaring temperature it is a must to keep your body hydrated at all times. Consuming water at room temperature or warm water packs umpteen benefits, other than just increased hydration and faster digestion. It leads to the better stimulation of natural digestive enzymes, and ensures smoother and better digestion. Hot water breaks down the food easily and enhances your bowel movement. It also acts as a natural blood purifier, and increases your body’s natural detoxification processes. So load up on this wonder liquid, but make sure its not ice-cold.

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

Chinese medicine sees water as the foundation for all living. The meridians are often classified as the waterways or water channels of our bodies and many of the most antique points all have names pertaining to water.

Water, as seventy-five percent of our bodies, plays a huge role in all of our systems. It is the foundation of our blood, the moisture, and lubrication of our joints, the tears we cry and it filters the toxins from our body. Water, in its abundant and diverse roll in the body, also influences our digestion and metabolism.

The digestive process is a rather complicated one and starts with what we put in our mouths. In fact, digestion starts with the first bite of that tasty pastry that we couldn’t help but snag on a trip to the store. Our mouth at 98.6 degrees holds a warm place for the food to soften as we add moisture, our saliva, and pressure, chewing, to break our food into little tiny pieces. As our food moves down into our belly the hydrochloric acid is anxiously anticipating the savor of whatever yummy meal we decide to send its way.

How Metabolism Works:

Metabolism is something that works on a time system. We want our metabolism to work at a nice clip and help our bodies to utilize the energy we feed it so that we can work and play hard and if you like to eat like I do then we certainly want it to work fast enough so that we can feed it regularly with tasty morsels of delicious delight.

Both metabolism and digestion work best when they are working in a warm environment. Think about how you feel when you are sitting on the beach on a nice warm day versus if you are walking around in the middle of a blizzard. Being at the beach we can run around in flip flops and shorts whereas in the winter we have to bundle up to our eyes just to stay warm. The cold, like winter, makes everything contract. We want to move away from the cold, get out of the cold, retreat from the cold.

The internal workings of the body work in very much the same way. While the ice coldness of a drink can feel very refreshing on a hot day we have to remember that the body is very open and receptive and moving beautifully when it is warm. If we add ice cold water to the system everything will begin to contract, slow down, and retreat.

Drinking Ice Water on Metabolism

Ice cold water, cold food like raw vegetables and treats like ice-cream will cause the stomach to slow down and the vessels of the stomach to contract. This contraction, while momentary, can still cause the digestion to slow itself down. This slowing down could cause the stomach to have food stagnation or over time what we call cold in the stomach.

What happens when the stomach is cold and slows down? The stomach is responsible for ripening and rotting the food. It then takes this broken down food and distributes it around the body. If the stomach is moving slowly and feels contracted, this food may stay there, take too long being digested and then getting fermented causing gas, bloating, belching, and aching. Additionally, if the body is not absorbing the nutrients often enough and in a timely manner then there can be a backup in the system. Perhaps constipation and a feeling of being swollen.

It’s important to note that having one glass of ice water is not going to make you fat. Ice water on the system, long term however, can play a role in how your body digests and ultimately how your metabolism functions. The constant use of cold foods will cause the body’s system to slow down, the metabolism will not be as affective and we can start to see food stasis, constipation and swelling of the body where there is an accumulation of fluids under the skin, or something we call dampness.

To keep our digestion and metabolism working in an industrious and stellar fashion you should do your best to avoid too much consumption of ice cold water. Start to train your body to drink room temperature water in between meals or 30 minutes after a meal as to not dilute the gastric juices while they are in full swing.

If you are dying for a little ice-cream in the summer, try to move the ice-cream around in your mouth for a little while to let it warm up before you swallow. You can take your yogurt out of the fridge for 10 minutes before you eat it to help warm it slightly before you consume it. Additionally, try to have warm foods and drinks with any meal that is cold and raw so that too much cold doesn’t go in to the system at once.

We certainly don’t live in a perfect world and there are many temptations to quench our thirsts and desires, however, being conscious of what you consume is half the battle. Enjoy your life and your food but be kind to your digestion in the process. We may not all be able to live at the beach year round, but if you are kind, your belly certainly can!

Photo Credit: Redwood Photography

This post was guest written by Acupuncturist – Autumn Bear

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Why does your stomach hurt after drinking cold water?

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  • Why does my stomach hurt after drinking water in the mornings?

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    In the morning your stomach is empty and contracted.

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  • Why would your stomach hurt after drinking water?


    I was diagnosed with acid reflux, or GERD, about two years ago. When I have a bad flare up, typically…

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  • Why would your stomach hurt after drinking water?


    I was diagnosed with acid reflux, or GERD, about two years ago. When I have a bad flare up, typically…

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  • What makes your stomach hurt worse: eating too much food or drinking too much water?


    Eating too much

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  • If i been drinking water and sitting on the toilet but my stomach still hurt what do i do?


    Only thing you can do is lay down on your back (MAYBE sides) and wait it out. Also, don’t eat or drink…

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  • Should my stomach hurt after drinking water?


    No, there is no reason why your stomach would hurt after drinking water.

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  • Will drinking water make my stomach not hurt?


    If you don’t drink enough fluids, you could become dehydrated and the symptoms of dehydration include…

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  • Ive been drinking water, why does it hurt when I pee?

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    It sounds like you have a urinary tract infection (hurts to pee). Go to the doctor and they’ll give…

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Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food and saliva from the mouth to the stomach, changes so that some of its lining is replaced by a type of tissue similar to that normally found in the intestine. This process is called intestinal metaplasia.

While Barrett’s esophagus may cause no symptoms itself, a small number of people with this condition develop a relatively rare, but often deadly, type of cancer of the esophagus called esophageal adenocarcinoma. Barrett’s esophagus is estimated to affect about 700,000 adults in the United States. It is associated with the very common condition “gastroesophageal reflux disease” (GERD).

Normal Function of the Esophagus

The esophagus seems to have only one important function in the body–to carry food, liquids, and saliva from the mouth to the stomach. The stomach then acts as a container to start digestion and pump food and liquids into the intestines in a controlled process. Food can then be properly digested over time, and nutrients can be absorbed by the intestines.

The esophagus transports food to the stomach by coordinated contractions of its muscular lining. This process is automatic and people are usually not aware of it. Many people have felt their esophagus when they swallow something too large, try to eat too quickly, or drink very hot or very cold liquids. They then feel the movement of the food or drink down the esophagus into the stomach, which may be an uncomfortable sensation.

The muscular layers of the esophagus are normally pinched together at both the upper and lower ends by muscles called sphincters. When a person swallows, the sphincters relax automatically to allow food or drink to pass from the mouth and into the stomach. The muscles then close rapidly to prevent the swallowed food or drink from leaking out of the stomach back into the esophagus or into the mouth. These muscles make it possible to swallow while lying down or even upside-down. When people belch to release swallowed air or gas from carbonated beverages, the sphincters relax and small amounts of food or drink may come back up briefly; this condition is called reflux. The esophagus quickly squeezes the material back into the stomach, and this is considered normal.

While these functions of the esophagus are obviously an important part of everyday life, people who must have their esophagus removed, for example because of cancer, can live a relatively healthy life without it.

What is GERD?

Having liquids or gas occasionally reflux is considered normal. When it happens frequently, particularly when not trying to belch, and when it causes other symptoms, then it is considered a medical problem or disease. However, it is not necessarily a serious one or one that requires seeing a physician.

The stomach produces acid and enzymes to digest food, and when this mixture refluxes into the esophagus more frequently than normal or for a longer period of time than normal, it may produce symptoms. These symptoms, often called acid reflux, are usually described by people as heartburn, indigestion, or “gas.” The symptoms typically consist of a burning sensation below and behind the lower part of the breastbone or sternum.

Almost everyone has experienced these symptoms at least once, typically as a result of overeating. Other things that provoke GERD symptoms include being overweight, eating certain types of foods, or being pregnant. In most people, GERD symptoms may last only a short time and require no treatment at all. More persistent symptoms are often quickly relieved by over-the-counter acid-reducing agents such as antacids.

Other drugs used to relieve GERD symptoms are antisecretory drugs such as histamine2 (H2) blockers or proton pump inhibitors. Common H2 blockers are

  • cimetidine (Tagamet HB)· famotidine (Pepcid AC)
  • nizatidine (Axid AR)
  • ranitidine (Zantac 75)

Common proton pump inhibitors are

  • esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • rabeprazole (Aciphex)

People who have symptoms frequently should consult a physician. Other diseases can have similar symptoms, and prescription medications in combination with other measures might be needed to reduce reflux. GERD that is untreated over a long period can lead to complications, such as an ulcer in the esophagus that could cause bleeding. Another common complication is scar tissue that blocks the movement of swallowed food and drink through the esophagus; this condition is called stricture.

Esophageal reflux may also cause certain less common symptoms, such as hoarseness or chronic cough, and sometimes provokes other conditions such as asthma. While most patients find that lifestyle modifications and acid-blocking drugs relieve their symptoms, doctors occasionally recommend surgery. Overall, GERD is one of the most common medical conditions. Some 20 percent of the population can be affected over a lifetime.

What causes Barrett’s Esophagus?

The exact causes of Barrett’s esophagus are not known, but it is thought to be caused in part by the same factors that cause GERD. Although people who do not have heartburn can have Barrett’s esophagus, it is found about three to five times more often in people with this condition.

Barrett’s esophagus is uncommon in children. The average age at diagnosis is 60, but it is usually difficult to determine when the problem started. It is about twice as common in men as in women and much more common in white men than in men of other races.

Barrett’s Esophagus and Cancer of the Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus does not cause symptoms itself and is important only because it seems to precede the development of a particular kind of cancer–esophageal adenocarcinoma. The risk of developing adenocarcinoma is 30 to 125 times higher in people who have Barrett’s esophagus than in people who do not. This type of cancer is increasing rapidly in white men. The increase is possibly related to the rise in obesity and GERD.

For people who have Barrett’s esophagus, the risk of getting cancer of the esophagus is small: less than 1 percent (0.4 percent to 0.5 percent) per year. Esophageal adenocarcinoma is often not curable, partly because the disease is frequently discovered at a late stage and because treatments are not effective.

Diagnosis and Screening

Diagnosing Barrett’s esophagus is not easy. At the present time, it cannot be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms, physical exam, or blood tests. The only useful test is upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and biopsy. In this procedure, a flexible tube called an endoscope, which has a light and miniature camera, is passed into the esophagus. If the tissue appears suspicious, then biopsies must be done. A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue using a pincher-like device passed through the endoscope. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.

Many physicians recommend that adult patients who are over the age of 40 and have had GERD symptoms for a number of years have endoscopy to see whether they have Barrett’s esophagus. Screening for this condition in people who have no symptoms is not recommended.


Barrett’s esophagus has no cure, short of surgical removal of the esophagus, which is a serious operation. Surgery is recommended only for people who have a high risk of developing cancer or who already have it. Most physicians recommend treating GERD with acid-blocking drugs, since this is sometimes associated with improvement in the extent of the Barrett’s tissue. However, this approach has not been proven to reduce the risk of cancer. Treating reflux with a surgical procedure for GERD also does not seem to cure Barrett’s esophagus.

Several different experimental approaches are under study. One attempts to see whether destroying the Barrett’s tissue by heat or other means through an endoscope can eliminate the condition. This approach, however, has potential risks and unknown effectiveness.

Surveillance for Dysplasia and Cancer

Periodic endoscopic examinations to look for early warning signs of cancer are generally recommended for people who have Barrett’s esophagus. This approach is called surveillance. When people who have Barrett’s esophagus develop cancer, the process seems to go through an intermediate stage in which cancer cells appear in the Barrett’s tissue. This condition is called dysplasia and can be seen only in biopsies with a microscope. The process is patchy and cannot be seen directly through the endoscope, so multiple biopsies must be taken. Even then, it can be missed.

The process of change from Barrett’s to cancer seems to happen only in a few patients, less than 1 percent per year, and over a relatively long period of time. Most physicians recommend that patients with Barrett’s esophagus undergo periodic surveillance endoscopy to have biopsies. The recommended interval between endoscopies varies depending on specific circumstances, and the ideal interval has not been determined.

Treatment for Dysplasia or Esophageal Adenocarcinoma

If a person with Barrett’s esophagus is found to have dysplasia or cancer, the doctor will usually recommend surgery if the person is strong enough and has a good chance of being cured. The type of surgery may vary, but it usually involves removing most of the esophagus and pulling the stomach up into the chest to attach it to what remains of the esophagus. Many patients with Barrett’s esophagus are elderly and have many other medical problems that make surgery unwise; in these patients, other approaches to treating dysplasia are being investigated.

Points to Remember

  • In Barrett’s esophagus, the cells lining the esophagus change and become similar to the cells lining the intestine.
  • Barrett’s esophagus is associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
  • A small number of people with Barrett’s esophagus may develop esophageal cancer.· Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and biopsy.
  • People who have Barrett’s esophagus should have periodic esophageal examinations.
  • Taking acid-blocking drugs for GERD may result in improvements in Barrett’s esophagus.
  • Removal of the esophagus is recommended only for people who have a high risk of developing cancer or who already have it.

For more information

To learn more about this topic, visit:

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) Inc.

With this sweltering weather upon us, how do we stay cool? By Lea Wee

According to TCM, taking cold food and drinks can irritate the gastric system and cause stomach cramps. Photo: Antonio Guillem /

It is sweltering outside and you find yourself reaching for a cool drink.

A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physician would tell you not to, while a doctor trained in Western medicine would probably say go ahead.

With the weather station warning of warmer days ahead, health experts with different approaches to medicine and health offer different advice on coping with the heat.

Says TCM physician Anita Pee, who is with Chinese medical chain Eu Yan Sang: “Taking cold food and drinks in such weather can increase dampness in the body and irritate the gastrointestinal tract, causing stomach and intestinal cramps.”

Cold food and drink can also stress the digestive system, she says, because the body has to work harder to raise the temperature of the food. She recommends food and drinks that are lukewarm or at room temperatures.

In ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of holistic living, cold food and drinks are also considered bad for digestion and should be consumed at room temperature, says Ms Vasanthi Pillay, president of the Ayurveda Association of Singapore, which runs regular workshops on ayurvedic nutrition.

Dietitians and doctors trained in Western medicine, however, believe it is more important that you drink enough water when it is hot.

(Also read: 7 Benefits of Drinking Water)

Ms Lynette Goh, a senior dietitian at the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, says: “If drinking cold water can encourage you to drink more fluids, then have it cold.”

She adds that there are studies which show that drinking colder fluids may cool the body down better in hot and humid climates.

Dr Lim Kai Hung, a family physician at LifeScan Medical Centre, says sweating in hot weather can lead to dehydration, so constant hydration is important. When the body is unable to cope with excessive heat, a heat stroke can occur.

He says non-caffeinated isotonic drinks can help replenish body salts lost due to sweating.

How much fluid a person should drink depends on his body weight, but an easy gauge, says Dr Lim, is the colour of your urine. “Ideally, the urine should be light yellow to clear,” he says.

Ms Goh recommends eating food that contain lots of water such as cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon and citrus fruits to combat the heat.

She also suggests adding sliced citrus fruits to cold water for a refreshing treat and cutting down on coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks and alcohol as these beverages can be dehydrating.

Both TCM and ayurveda do not encourage the consumption of these beverages in hot weather too.

(Also read: 5 Benefits of Drinking Warm Water in The Morning That Might Surprise You)

During hot weather, TCM recommends not eating “heaty” food such as spicy, fried and oily food.

Instead, eat more food and drinks with “cooling” properties such as drinks made with barley, chrysanthemum, sugarcane and luo han guo fruit, as well as green bean soup.

Ms Pee, however, cautions that people with a weak spleen or digestive system should avoid too much “cooling” food as it can further weaken the spleen and digestion. (These TCM foods help you cool down when it’s hot.)

Similarly, ayurveda believes that “cooling” food may not benefit those with weak “digestive fire”.

But according to ayurvedic principles, when the weather turns warm, the “heat” in the body rises.

So for people who are generally healthy, ayurveda recommends naturally sweet food, such as watermelon and grapes, and bitter and astringent food, such as celery and broccoli, to help cool the body.

“Cooling” drinks include young coconut water and buttermilk.

Ms Pillay says adding spices such as cumin and coriander to buttermilk will not only cool the body, but also improve digestion.

Young coconut drinks are also popular with Malays when the weather turns hot, says Ms Aziza Ali, 66, a Malay culinary consultant and chef.

She adds that air biji selasih (basil seed drink) is another popular beverage that Malays drink to cool themselves down.

Also a hit are salads containing ingredients such as raw cucumber, tomatoes and pineapples, and soupy fish dishes such as singgang asam, which has ingredients such as tamarind juice, lemongrass, and belacan (fermented shrimp paste).

Ms Aziza says: “This dish is popular during hot weather because it is mild and does not have heaty spices such as those found in curries.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline ‘Chill factor: Iced drinks, yes or no?’.

Also read:

8 Ways to Make Water Taste Better

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