We’re just weeks away from frying-an-egg-on-pavement temperatures in the Valley of the Sun As it gets hotter outside, it becomes all the more essential to stay cool on the inside. Regulating your body temperature can make all the difference as you live, work, and play throughout the summer months. We know most of the critical survival strategies for the summer: stay indoors, walk in the shade, drink plenty of water, and use lots of sunscreen. Did you know that you can add heating yourself up to that list? Exposing yourself to hot water, hot drinks, and hot foods can have a surprisingly effective cooling effect.
It’s strange to think that some of the spiciest foods in the world come from regions known for their scorching hot temperatures. You’d think that the last thing that people who live in hot weather would want to eat is something that’ll turn up the heat but there’s a good reason why they have “call the fire truck!” diets. Spicy foods like hot peppers and curries can actually help cool you down.
The science of spice is pretty simple: spicy foods make you sweat, and sweat helps you stay cool. Hot, spicy food raises your internal temperature to match the temperature outside while also increasing your blood circulation. The sweat generated by the hot food evaporates over time, bringing your body back down to a cooler temperature.
Hot Coffee & Tea
The drink of choice for many nomadic tribes who live near and/pass through the Sahara desert is hot tea. Much like cultures that have developed spicy cuisines, many desert civilizations have built up centuries-long traditions of drinking hot teas or coffees. It comes down once again to sweat: drinking something that’s hotter than your body temperature makes you sweat.
There is a caveat here about sweat: its cooling effect only works if it has a chance to properly evaporate on your skin. If you’re wearing a lot of clothes, the sweat will either get absorbed into the fabric or drip off your body, which means you won’t get the benefits of that cooldown.
Left is right, down is up, hot showers cool you off. It’s counterintuitive but it’s true. A hot shower or bath increases circulation and stimulates your body’s internal temperature. That increased circulation pushes the heat in your body up to surface extremities, cooling them down at a more rapid pace. A cold shower triggers the opposite effect: your body thinks it's cold and reacts accordingly by raising your temperature.
Saunas & Steam Rooms
A post-workout steam can be a great way to relieve pain, reduce stress, and induce a state of relaxation. It can also cool you down! Yet again, it comes down to “tricking” your body. Your body feels hot in the sauna/steam room and reacts accordingly by boosting circulation and working up a sweat. All the more reason why you shouldn’t skip your sauna time just because it’s summer.
The most important thing to remember about this “sweating to stay cool” strategy: you need to stay well-hydrated. Sweating dehydrates the body, so it’s very important to stay hydrated throughout the day so you don’t risk heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Eight glasses of water a day is usually the recommended amount to stay hydrated.
If eight glasses sounds like a lot to drink, the good news is that you can hydrate yourself through food, as well. Fruits and vegetables are often quite dense with water. Some of the most water-rich foods include:
- Soups and broths
- Skim milk
- Bell peppers
- Coconut water.
Article by Austin Brietta
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