Health & Lifestyle

From avoiding coffee to eating spicy food: Four surprising ways to stay cool as UK braces for hottest day of the year

  • Spicy food can help you cool down in hot weather and so can a bath, experts say
  • NHS urges people to avoid drinking coffee and alcohol and stay hydrated

It’s set to be one of the hottest days of the year, with the mercury expected to hit 33C (91F) in parts of the UK today.

But while many welcome the six-day heatwave, which began yesterday and is set to run until Sunday night, others struggle to cope with the extreme weather.

Drinking plenty of water, staying in the shade and avoiding exercise and direct sunlight at the hottest points of the day are common tips to avoid overheating.

Here, MailOnline shares expert-backed ways to stay cool during the hot weather.  

It is set to be one of the hottest days of the year. And without air conditioning it can be hard to stay cool

It is set to be one of the hottest days of the year. And without air conditioning it can be hard to stay cool

Avoid drinking coffee

Coffee may provide a much-needed boost of energy, but it’s not the best drink during hot weather. 

The pick me up suppress the hormone ADH, which usually causes the kidneys to retain water when your body is low on stores.

This causes you to urinate more frequently than normal, resulting in dehydration.

So experts say it’s best to stick to water in hot weather.

Instead of drinking caffeine and alcohol people should  drink water. Feeling thirsty, dark yellow pee, feeling dizzy and having sunken eyes are all signs of dehydration in children and adults, according to the NHS

Instead of drinking caffeine and alcohol people should  drink water. Feeling thirsty, dark yellow pee, feeling dizzy and having sunken eyes are all signs of dehydration in children and adults, according to the NHS

Dehydration — when the body loses more fluids than it takes in — can trigger splitting headaches, dizziness and tiredness.

It can even result in hospitalisation if it becomes severe — causing a weak or rapid pulse, fits or low levels of consciousness.

Feeling thirsty, dark yellow pee, feeling dizzy and having sunken eyes are all signs of dehydration in children and adults, according to the NHS.

The NHS advises people to drink caffeine in moderation during a heatwave. It suggests checking the label for drinks that are high in caffeine.

However, some experts have questioned coffee’s dehydrating effect, suggesting the loss of fluids it causes is replaced by the drink itself.

Eat spicy food

While a cooling ice cream may be most appetising in hot weather, tucking into a spicy curry may actually be the best way to cool down. 

That’s because spicy food raises the body’s internal temperature, mirroring the weather, and causes it to sweat. 

The active chemical in chili peppers, called capsaicin, can trigger the body to sweat and induce thermogenesis — the process by which cells convert energy into heat.

Spicy food raises your internal body temperature, mirroring that of the weather and causes you to sweat

Spicy food raises your internal body temperature, mirroring that of the weather and causes you to sweat

US researchers say this chemical stimulates a receptor found in sensory neurons, creating the sensation of heat and subsequent reactions like redness and sweating.

The body’s heat causes sweat to evaporate, which has a long-lasting cooling effect. 

For comparison, downing a cold drink or having an ice cream raises the body’s temperature in response to being cold, leaving people feeling warmer. 

Take a warm bath before bed

Staying cool when trying to sleep can be one of the biggest struggles during spells of hot weather.

And while it may seem, counterintuitive, running a hot bath could do the trick. 

Sleep and core body temperature are both controlled by the brain’s circadian clock, which drives 24-hour patterns of sleep and wakefulness. 

At night, body temperature drops by about 2C. This helps with conserving energy and directing energy to organs that need it.  

But this cycle can be disrupted during periods of hot weather, potentially causing a miserable night’s sleep.

Researchers at the University of Texas found that taking a warm bath before going to bed will help your body cool down. This method works best when taking a warm bath or shower an hour or two before going to bed for a duration of 10 minutes

Researchers at the University of Texas found that taking a warm bath before going to bed will help your body cool down. This method works best when taking a warm bath or shower an hour or two before going to bed for a duration of 10 minutes

However, the science says hot baths can help you cool down rapidly.

Researchers at the University of Texas found that taking a warm bath before going to bed will help your body cool down. 

That’s because the warm water causes the blood vessels in the surface of the skin to dilate, encouraging blood to flow from the internal core of the body to the hands and feet.

So, once you get out the bath, this causes the body to cool down rapidly.

This method works best when taking a 10-minute warm bath or shower an hour or two before going to bed, according to the report published in Sleep Medical Reviews Journal in 2019.

Put your bedding in the freezer 

Fresh, cool sheets are the perfect way to get a good night’s sleep after spending the day in the sun. 

And, though it may sound strange, putting bedding in the freezer can work wonders for lowering body temperature before bed. 

Freezing your bedding allow the body's temperature to drop by the required 2C needed for good sleep. But remember to put your bedding in a plastic bag to prevent dirty bedding contaminating your food

Freezing your bedding allow the body’s temperature to drop by the required 2C needed for good sleep. But remember to put your bedding in a plastic bag to prevent dirty bedding contaminating your food

As with the hot bath trick before bed, relaxing into cool sheets helps allow the body’s temperature to drop by the required 2C needed for good sleep.

But rather than causing your body to radiate heat away, this directly cools you from the outside in, preventing your internal temperature jumping back up as it readjusts to the outside.

Dr Mike Farquhar, a consultant in sleep medicine at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, said putting bedding in the freezer for a couple of minutes at night will help you stay cool throughout your sleep. 

However, remember to put your bedding in a plastic bag to prevent dirty bedding contaminating your food or vice versa.


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