Hot Drink On a Hot Day?


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One morning this past summer, my father and I were having a debate about what one should drink in order to cool down the body most effectively.  I immediately assumed cold water because that's what people grew up doing.  However, he pitched the idea that hot water actually chilled the body more effectively.  Obviously, I was reluctant to believe his answer so I did some research.

 

According to a NPR article, hot water does, in fact, cool the body down better than cold water.  There are certain receptors on the tongue called TRPV1 that send a signal to the brain telling it that it needs to cool the body down because it is too hot.  However, the mechanism the brain turns on to cool the body down is sweating.  Due to the direct response of the body producing sweat because of the consumption of hot liquid, there is reason to believe the relationship is causal.

 

However, another study done that was published on Smithsonian magazine explained that the cooling down was only effective if the sweat created by the body from the hot drink was evaporated.  This study explains the effect of the hot drink in a slightly different way than the previous article.  When a person drinks a hot fluid, it is hotter than the body temperature; therefore, adding heat to your body which is then sweated out.  The perspiration makes up for the additional heat added to your body if it is evaporated.

 

It seems to me that drinking hot liquids helps the body cool down because it sweats out the excess heat.  However, is sweating the response you want from your body when you're too hot.  If I were in class wanting to cool down, I surely would not want to produce more sweat to reduce my body heat.  My question is, how much better do hot liquids cool you down than cool ones?  Is it that much of a difference that it's worth sweating the heat out temporarily?

 

Sources:

http://sweatscience.runnersworld.com/2012/08/hot-drinks-to-cool-you-off-in-hot-weather/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/07/11/156378713/cool-down-with-a-hot-drink-its-not-as-crazy-as-you-think?ps=cprs

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2012/07/a-hot-drink-on-a-hot-day-can-cool-you-down/

 

2 Comments

This kind of goes along with the point that Andrew was making in class on Thursday. Human intuition is lousy. We assume that cold drinks logically cool us down better than hot drinks but the opposite is actually true. At least for me, even with proof that hot drinks are more effective, I'll still probably choose a cold drink the next time I'm hot. The evidence does nothing to change my mindset. It's exactly like the Monty Hall problem. There is proof that you are more likely to win if you switch doors, but most people still keep there original choice. I wonder where else this theory can apply.

When I get a cold and get a high body temperature, I always drink hot tea then go to sleep under two thick sheets of cover to ensure that I sweat during my sleep. The next morning when I wake up, my body temperature is cooled down. This goes a long with what you said about drinking hot water in order to sweat. This sweat is called evaporating sweat, which cools the body down by helping it release heat. The body must release heat to turn sweat into water vapor. Then it blows away from the body, thus leaving the body cooler. The body temperature should be around 98.6'F, and if the body temperature somehow rises over that number, the body reacts by releasing sweat to maintain a stable temperature. You could read more about this phenomena right here

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