When the scorching summer sun beats down on us, our first instinct might be to reach for a cold, refreshing iced coffee to cool us down. After all, what could be better than a chilled beverage to beat this heat? Surprisingly, science suggests there might be another option.
It turns out that sipping a hot cup of joe on a hot day might be the unexpected key to cooling down.
While it may seem counterintuitive, drinking hot beverages can help regulate body temperature and provide relief from the sweltering heat—in some circumstances. The science behind this phenomenon lies in the body’s natural cooling mechanisms.
When we consume a hot drink, the body senses the rise in internal temperature and initiates our natural cooling process: sweat. This process involves sweating more, which helps cool the body down through evaporative cooling.
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Drinking a hot beverage that’s hotter than your body temperature does add heat to your body. However, as you drink a hot beverage, your body reacts with a heightened production of sweat. As the sweat evaporates from your skin, it carries away excess heat, helping you feel cooler.
According to the research, if the excess sweat can fully evaporate, then you’ll cool your body down more than you would with an iced drink. While sweating more may sound annoying, it’s your body’s natural means of cooling and can make you feel much better.
While iced coffee may initially provide a refreshing sensation, it has its limitations when it comes to cooling down the body. Cold beverages tend to lower the body’s internal temperature slightly, but they don’t trigger the same heat dissipation response as hot drinks.
Keep in mind that if the sweat isn’t able to evaporate, your body won’t feel cooler. If you live in a humid area or are wearing a lot of clothes, then you’ll block the sweat’s ability to evaporate and only make yourself more uncomfortable.
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Consider your external environment when choosing between hot and iced coffee. In regions with high humidity, the cooling effect of sweat evaporation is reduced. In such cases, iced coffee may provide more immediate relief from the heat.
However, in arid climates or places with low humidity, hot coffee may be a better option for staying cool. As the sweat evaporates more effectively in dry air, the body’s cooling mechanism is enhanced, and you’ll likely feel refreshed after sipping a steaming cup.
Whether you choose hot or iced coffee, it’s crucial to prioritize hydration during hot weather. Be sure to balance your coffee consumption with plenty of water to stay properly hydrated.