Summer in central Florida can be really hot. Everywhere I go, I see people misting their faces with spray bottles. I notice backward wading pools set out for dogs. I watch people clutching dripping water bottles and licking ice cream cones so fast that their tongues look like pink tornadoes.
But will cold food cool you down when it’s a hundred degrees outside? Will ice cream lower your body temperature when it’s really hot?
I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but here’s the truth.
You may be tired of sweating like a snowman in a sauna, but drinking ice-cold beverages and slurping ice cream cones won’t help lower your body temperature.
Cold food: The frosty fallacy
When it’s hot, most people think of cold things, and nothing seems colder than a frozen treat.
Here’s the thing.
Ice cream CAN make you feel better emotionally. Ice cream contains protein and fat, and both are substances that our bodies use to level our moods. In addition, eating ice cream produces a chemical reaction and releases tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that increases serotonin, and serotonin makes us feel calm and satisfied.
Of course, the fabulous flavors in ice cream are an added bonus. (Chocolate, fresh peach, butter pecan, mint chip, toffee crunch, lemon, raspberry cheesecake….and the list goes on.)
But as emotionally satisfying as eating an ice cream cone can be, it doesn’t lower our body temperatures.
While the cold-in-your-mouth sensation lasts a moment, it quickly dissipates, and what happens is that our bodies must process what we take in. Our body temps may increase while we digest that flavorful frozen treat, and raised body temps are not good when it’s a hundred degrees outside!
According to a study conducted on the impact of cold food on body temperature, researchers found that the difference in body temperature after consuming cold foods was minimal and short-lived. Participants who enjoyed a frosty treat experienced only a minor drop in body temperature, averaging around 0.2 to 0.3 degrees Celsius. To put this in perspective, that's like trying to cool down a volcano with a snow cone.
Brain freeze, not body freeze
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not telling you to avoid ice cream and cold foods!
I’m just saying that if you’re eating them to cool down, you might be disappointed. Your body temperature won’t dip into the icy abyss just because you ate a popsicle!
You might, however, get a brain-freeze headache, a phenomenon where cold foods stimulate nerves in your palate and cause a rapid headache. Your brain might be playing freeze tag, but your body's thermostat remains steady.
How your body cools off
Our bodies have two ways to keep cool.
First, it pumps blood throughout our system, making sure to keep the blood around our internal organs cool. To do that, the circulatory system takes warm blood to the capillaries of our skin, allowing heat to be released and cooler blood to be taken back to our core.
That hot blood being pumped to the skin is why people get red and flushed when they’re hot. Their skin is releasing heat from the hot blood beneath the surface.
Secondly, our bodies sweat. Perspiration on the skin is the body’s cooling mechanism. When sweat evaporates, the moisture lifts off our skin, cooling the skin and the blood below. That blood then travels back to your internal organs to cool them down. (The same principle is at work with misting ourselves to stay cool.)
Bring on the hot stuff!
It seems counterintuitive, but it’s not cold ice cream or cold drinks that will cool you down.
It’s hot stuff.
Drinking hot drinks makes your body sweat, and sweat is how our body cools us off. Ordering a steaming hot black coffee or tea will do the trick.
Cool salad or hot soup for lunch? Believe it or not, hot soup will control your body temperature better than cold food.
There’s an alternative route.
Bring on the hot sauce!
Spicy foods can generate a sweat response, and in the hot weather, that’s a good thing. The more we sweat, the cooler we’ll be. So jalapenos, hot sauce, and jerk chicken are all on the menu!
The Cold Comfort of Myth-Busting
Should you abandon your ice cream dreams and bid farewell to the allure of chilled watermelon slices? Absolutely not! Cold foods offer refreshing relief from heat – and hydration – so there's nothing wrong with indulging in frosty delights.
But it’s a myth to believe that eating them will keep you cool.
If you’re sweating bullets and contemplating an Arctic diet, remember that while cold foods might offer a temporary respite, they won't magically make you “chill!”
The best way to stay cool when it’s really hot outside
The best way to stay cool when it’s really hot outside is to keep your air conditioning functioning at maximum efficiency with ServiceOne Air Conditioning and Plumbing.
Your calls will be answered 365 days a year. You can get affordable maintenance programs for both air conditioning and plumbing systems with our ClubOne membership, payable either monthly or yearly. You can stay calm, cool, and collected because you know that we care about your comfort and have twenty years of experience as a leader in the industry.
Call us. We’ll keep you cool, no matter how hot it is outside and no matter what you eat!