Summer Hack: Hot Tea Can Cool You Down More Than Popsicles

Instinctively, we reach for popsicles and cold drinks when the temperatures climb, but doing something counterintuitive, like going for a hot drink or eating something spicy, is actually more effective at keeping you cool.

Deutsche Well spoke with Professor Peter McNaughton, a pharmacologist at King's College London and previous Head of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge, who confirmed that drinking hot tea is better for cooling off in the long run than eating ice cream.

Consuming something cold will give you relief for exactly as long as it takes for the food to disappear down your gullet, and usually the food item is relatively tiny in comparison to your body. Meanwhile, hot stuff makes you sweat, and as it evaporates, it will cool you off for a longer period of time.

Spicy soup can cool you down, for real. Image by Relacionado/Slideshare

After all, there's a reason why cuisines in broiling-hot areas of the world (e.g. Southeast Asia, India) are usually heavy on the spices. There's actually a Korean practice of eating samgyetang (hot chicken soup) during the hottest days of the year.

Professor McNaughton explains that the nerves in our tongues contain TRPV1 receptors that send the message "it's hot up in here—do something!" which is why we start to sweat. Turns out these receptors also respond to the heat in chili peppers as well as to elevated temperatures.

The Smithsonian Magazine, however, points out that this trick only works in very specific climates. Hot, dry ones, to be exact. They spoke with Dr. Ollie Jay, who performed a study to test this hypothesis.

Jay says: "If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that's produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate."

In other words, if you live somewhere extremely humid, sweating is just going to make you feel even stickier. That means all of you Texas folks should stick to ice-cold treats or DIY air conditioners.

Would you drink or eat something hot to cool down?

Cover image via Kevin James Photography

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