Seriously, Eat More Hot Food To Cool Down This Summer

A bowl of soup steaming
A bowl of soup steaming - Anna Avdeeva/Getty Images

When the summer sun emerges and the temperature starts to climb, it's pretty tempting to take some drastic measures to cool down. If you don't have access to the pool or the ocean and ice cream isn't appealing, you may find yourself holding an ice pack to your forehead or standing in front of an open refrigerator. The former can start to hurt your hands after too long and the latter isn't all that great for the environment — luckily, there's a much tastier solution: Simmer yourself a steaming pot of hot soup.

Okay, it doesn't have to be soup. It could be a piping pan of macaroni and cheese or a bubbling bowl of chili con carne because hot foods as a whole can actually help your body cool down. So, the next time the summer sun is feeling a little too oppressive, you might feel better reaching for something sizzling rather than something icy. The point is that to beat the heat, you've often got to eat the heat. And the secret behind that rather oxymoronic statement can be found in your sweat.

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Sweat It Out To Beat The Heat

Close-up of grilled kebabs and vegetables
Close-up of grilled kebabs and vegetables - Gravika/Shutterstock

A 2012 study published in Acta Physiologica found that when cyclists were exercising, those who drank warm water stored less body heat than those who drank cool water. When the cyclists drank the warm water, their bodies reacted the way bodies do to heat — their body temperatures initially rose and they sweated more.

However, since sweat is the way that human bodies cool down, the warm-water-drinking cyclists cooled down more quickly than the cold-water-drinking cyclists because they were sweating more. Affirmed as well by a 2016 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, hot drinks and hot foods will heat you up at first, but the sweat they cause in your body will make cooling down quicker and easier.

However (aye, there's the rub), according to the 2012 study, this only works if the sweat works. In other words, if you aren't able to sweat well and the sweat isn't able to evaporate off of you, then you'll just keep heating up along with the hot food or drink. So, if you're in a super humid climate or you're wearing lots of layers of tight clothing, full sweat evaporation won't happen and the heat will just stay stored in your body. Those conditions mean that the classic ice water is probably a better cool-down solution.

It's Not Just High Temperatures — Spice Cools You Off, Too

Close-up of hot wings and ranch dressing
Close-up of hot wings and ranch dressing - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Lots of regions with very hot climates, like Thailand, the Caribbean, and Ethiopia, also serve up extra spicy dishes. One explanation for the connection is that spices inhibit bacterial growth in climates where food preservation can be difficult, but researchers also believe it's because these spicy foods help people cool down. So, it might be time to build up your spicy food tolerance because the same principle that applies to foods that are hot in temperature also applies to foods that are spicy.

The reason that spicy food feels hot is that active components in spicy foods, like capsaicin, stimulate sensory receptors on your skin and tongue that make you think you've eaten something very (temperature) hot and that you're overheating. So, your body starts trying to cool you off the best way it knows how: by sweating.

Even though you aren't actually temperature hot, your body reacts as if you are, and the same sweating that was triggered by the steaming soup will happen when you nosh on some hot wings — and both will eventually cool you down. So, if your summer day isn't too humid, the secret to keeping cool might be at the bottom of your bowl of chili.

Read the original article on Daily Meal