Here at Power Vac America, we’re in the business of keeping you cool so when that thermometer starts sweating, that’s when we know it’s time for our annual PSA regarding two of summer’s most constant companions: ice cream and beer. While there is little doubt as to whether or not these summer staples are immediately refreshing, are they really the best panacea for fading under the summer sun? Read on to find out!
Surely something that can cause brain freeze is a good treat to help lower your body temperature after hours in the sun, right? According to Dr. Gerard E. Mullin, M.D., M.H.S., director of gastroenterology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, “anything ingested that is lower than actual body temperature will initially produce a cooling effect systemically.” Hence the brain freeze.
But, just like brain freeze, this initial cooling effect is short lived. About 15-20 minutes after eating ice cream, it actually has the opposite effect of creating more heat in the body. “As the digestive process kicks in, body temperature increases as the body works to digest and absorb the nutrients in the ice cream, as well as to store the calories,” says Josephine Connolly-Schoonen, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of family medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center.
ICE COLD BEER
Although manufacturers claim that cracking open a cold one is like “tapping the Rockies,” beer may not be the best choice to keep you cool. The main reason for this is that alcohol (like caffine) creates dehydration. Dr. Stephen J. Pintauro, a food scientist at the University of Vermont, explains it as such: “[alcohol dehydrates] by inhibiting the release of the hormone vasopressin. Vasopressin (also known as anti-diuretic hormone) is responsible for the re-absorption of water from the kidney tubules. Inhibition of the release of this hormone results in less water ‘re-absorption’ from the kidneys and hence more urine production, leading to dehydration.” Additionally, like ice cream, alcohol has to be digested, and that metabolic process creates heat in the body, and further dehydrates you by using up your storehouse of water.
An important note about heat and dehydration from Dr. Lona Sandon, M.Ed, R.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, “Body temperature is affected by how well you hydrate your body, how much water you have in your muscles, blood and cells.” Body fluids also serve other purposes. “The first purpose is to fill small blood vessels near the skin so blood can pass by the skin and lose heat to the environment. The second purpose is to generate sweat that wicks heat away as the sweat evaporates off the skin,” says Dr. Schoonen. Therefore, if you do not drink enough fluid, and/or you’re dehydrated, your body water levels will be low, and your body has a harder time staying at normal temperature. “Drinking plenty of fluids will help keep you cool,” adds Dr. Sandon
Instead of reaching for foods that require more effort to digest (like fats and high protein foods), try eating hydrating foods, like: watermelon, cucumber, citrus fruits, and apples.
Young coconut water is also a great choice—not only is it a water-based liquid, but it also has a lot of minerals and vitamins that are necessary to help the body cool down and hold onto the moisture that you’re adding.
Another thing to try? Add peppermint to your beverages. You can also use a peppermint spray lightly misted over the body—this will help cool your skin as soon as the breeze reaches you.
All that is not to say that you need to put down the cone or the koozie. While these tasty treats might not actually make you cooler, they do make summer more enjoyable. Just remember, stay hydrated, and don’t rely on the cold ones to cool you down!
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