Is it True that Eating Hot Food Can Actually Cool You Down?
On a steamy summer day, we all have our favorite frozen treats to cool us down. If you reach for ice cream, homemade popsicles or a glass of ice water, you instantly feel refreshed. But what if a steaming bowl of chili was the best choice for cooling off in the heat?
Does Eating Hot Food Cool You Down?
Yes, it turns out that hot foods may help to lower your body temperature on hot days! A 2012 study looked at how our bodies store heat while exercising. The authors found that people who drank hot water were able to lower their body temperatures more than those who drank cold water.
Hot food and drinks cause our bodies to heat up and sweat. Sweating is our body’s best (and only) way of cooling off. So when hot foods cause us to sweat more, we’re able to cool down more quickly.
However, if your body isn’t able to sweat normally, hot foods will only heat you up. If you’re in a humid environment, are wearing multiple layers of clothing or have a health condition that interferes with sweating, stick with cool, refreshing foods.
This is why people think cold water tastes better.
Do Hot Drinks Have the Same Effect As Food?
Alina Rosanova/Getty Images
Yes, hot drinks have the same effect on body temperature. A 2016 study found that drinking warm water was better at cooling off the body than drinking an ice slurry. As long as you’re in a warm, dry environment and able to sweat, warm drinks are an effective way to cool off.
Does It Matter What Kind of Hot Foods or Drinks You Have?
Jennifer A Smith/Getty Images
Health researchers believe that we have cells that sense and respond to temperature in the esophagus and stomach. This means that our bodies will naturally respond to any hot food or drink. It’s possible that spicy foods could enhance this effect because they lead to more sweating when you eat them.
Keep in mind that the research on this topic is still mixed. In a 2015 study, participants lost more body heat after drinking hot drinks than they did with cold drinks. But this response was only compensation for the temperature of the hot liquid. In other words, hot liquids heat you up and then cool you off, leaving you close to your baseline temperature.
If you’re a healthy person and the weather is warm and dry, then it can’t hurt to have a bowl of hot chili to try and cool your body down!