There’s nothing better than a glass of ice water on a hot day. But while it’s pleasant to drink, is cold water actually cooling your body down? It turns out that cold drinks don’t actually help with cooling. In fact, they may actually make you hotter. And it might come as more of a shock that drinking a hot drink on a hot day can actually help you more.
Sweating Cools You Down
The reason that drinking a hot drink on a hot day can cool you down has to do with sweating. We sweat when our bodies get hot. Beads of sweat then evaporate off of our skin and cool us down. The reason that drinking a hot drink can help is that hot liquids can make you sweat more. When receptors in the stomach interact with hot liquids, they stimulate a sweat response. This is why you might start sweat when drinking something hot, even if you were not exercising or in a hot environment. So if you’re sweating on a hot day and drink something hot, you might get even sweatier and give your body the chance to cool down a bit more.
Spicy Foods Can Help Too
Spicy foods can help cool you down in the same way that hot liquids can. Spicy foods trigger receptors in the stomach that make you sweat. So eating spicy food on a hot day could actually cool you down as well.
The Limits of Hot Drinks for Cooling Purposes
There are a few factors that could come into play and lower the effectiveness of using hot liquids or spicy food to cool down. The first is how much you are sweating. Your sweat needs to be able to evaporate off of your body for it to cool down. If you are sweating so much that sweat is clinging to you and running down your arms, drinking something hot to make yourself sweat more is not too helpful. This might just make you hotter.
The other factor is humidity. If there is too much moisture in the air, it’s harder for sweat to evaporate off of your skin. It’s more likely to stick to you. So the perfect conditions for a hot drink to cool you down is when you are not sweating too much and the humidity is low.
Should Athletes Drink Something Hot on the Sidelines?
Before we start recommending that athletes drink hot Gatorade, there needs to be more studies done on the subject. It’s likely that because athletes sweat so much on the field, court, or rink, it would only make them hotter to drink something hot when they’re out of the game. But if you’re going for a light job, it’s possible that drinking some hot tea afterwards might cool you down.
Iced Coffee or Hot?
In many countries, as spring turns to summer, people switch from hot coffee to iced. But in some places, like in South America, people drink hot coffee all year round. They’ve known for a long time that hot drinks can cool you down during the summer.
It’s hard to imagine Brits or Americans switching over to hot coffee in the summertime but it could be a good change. While many people think that an iced coffee might cool them down, it in fact might make them hotter. Cold drinks inhibit the sweat response and keep that heat inside the body. So while you’re enjoying your iced cappuccino, you aren’t doing your body any favors.
This summer when the barista asks if you want hot or iced, try keeping it hot and see the difference for yourself.