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Staying Cool with Food

posted Jul 14, 2017, 11:20 AM by Tracy Ducker

 

              Can certain foods really cool you down? Surprisingly, yes, some can. You may think that it is obvious, hot foods make you warmer and cool foods make you cooler, but it isn’t that simple. Our bodies are constantly working to keep our core body temperature at 98.6 degrees F. If the air outside is hot then we sweat to cool down, if the air is cold then we shiver to increase body temperature. But some studies have shown that food and drink can actually play a role in maintaining body temperature. For example, in some parts of the world (i.e. warm climates) they believe that drinking hot beverages or eating spicy food actually makes you cooler. In India and sub-Sahara Africa they drink hot tea to cool off, and in Mexico they eat spicy food to cool down.

So what is the science behind hot foods and beverages and staying cool? When you drink a hot beverage or eat a spicy food you sweat which cools you off, if it can evaporate. This means drinking a hot beverage in July in Washington D.C. probably won’t cool you off. But drinking that hot tea in Phoenix, Arizona will actually make you feel cooler because the sweat evaporates in the dry climate, making you feel cooler.

So what can we Mid-Atlantic folks do to stay cool? Try some of these foods that have a high water content. Cucumbers, dark green leafy vegetables and watermelon are not only refreshing but high in vitamins and minerals.  Plain, cool water is also great for hydrating your body and staying cool, infuse with some berries or lemon for flavor and added cooling. It is best to avoid ice cold drinks because studies have shown that they can actually make you feel hotter because it cools your core temperature too quickly causing your body to produce more heat in order to maintain a body temperature of 98.6 degrees F. For more information on cooling foods click here.

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