Photo of the Day: Chinese textbook warns drinking cold water can be deadly

Western netizens get a laugh out of Chinese textbook's warning that cold water after exercise can be deadly for heart

(Photo by Tanner Brown)

(Photo by Tanner Brown)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Many Western netizens are getting a laugh at a cartoon found by an American editor in a Chinese textbook warning children about the dangers of drinking cold water to the heart after exertion in hot weather.

On Jan. 1, Tanner Brown, 37, noticed a series of odd cartoons in a textbook published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press at a bookstore in Beijing. In the cartoons, which Brown estimates are geared toward fourth or fifth grade elementary school students, a tiger tells children not to drink cold water after exertion claiming that it could seriously damage the heart.

That same day, Brown posted the images on his Twitter account (@luoshanji), as well as the social media site Reddit, where it received 256 upvotes. Western netizens were amused that one of China's top universities would publish a textbook claiming that drinking cold water could seriously damage the heart, while no scientific studies have yet demonstrated such a correlation.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one's vital essence, known as Qi, must be regulated through the proper balance of Yin and Yang forces. TCM doctor Wang Ya-hsiu (王雅秀) asserts that iced drinks can cause "Qi stagnation" leading to spleen and stomach energy deficiencies, which will in turn cause poor Qi and blood circulation, and potentially, infertility.

The overlap with Western medicine would be what is referred to as "cold shock response," which is when the body goes into shock as the result of being suddenly and fully immersed in very cold water. This can lead to drownings or heart attacks due to vasoconstriction, however, this requires full immersion in ice-cold water, rather just ingesting a chilled beverage.

As a practical matter, the cold-stimulus headache would probably deter most people from attempting to gorge themselves on the copious amounts of ice water it would probably take to affect their heart.

In the first series of cartoon images below, a tiger tells the children that suddenly drinking cold water after exercise on a hot day can injure the heart. The tiger says that an injury to the heart is a very serious matter, the children are incredulous, and ask why drinking cold water would have such an effect.

(Photo by Tanner Brown)

In the next series of images, a human body is shown exercising on a hot day and perspiring. The captions say that, through sweating, the heat is dissipated away from the heart.

However, the tiger then says if a person suddenly gulps down an ice cold beverage, the cooling effect achieved from perspiration is slowed down, and the heart starts to rise in temperature dangerously. In the bottom frame, an image of a person guzzling a cold drink is shown with a heart below appearing to huff and puff and sweat profusely as it is assaulted by heat from all directions.

(Photo by Tanner Brown)

Book introducing human body published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. (Photo by Tanner Brown)