The UK is currently being hit with a long awaited heatwave. While sitting in front of the best fan is a great way to stay cool in the hot weather, keeping hydrated is key to managing and staying safe in the heat.
As we mentioned in 5 most (and least) hydrating drinks to drink during a heatwave, water, milk and juice are the best drinks to consume when the weather gets hot. But it turns out that having a hot beverage on a sunny day or during a heatwave can actually help you manage the heat better according to experts and nutritionists.
Why you should have hot drinks during a heatwave
It seems like a given that you drink hot drinks to warm you up and cool drinks to cool you down, right? Wrong. Studies have shown that drinking a hot beverage on a sunny day or during a heatwave can help cool you down by regulating your body temperature.
In a study conducted by the University of Ottawa, researchers found that hot drinks result in a lower amount of heat stored inside the body. Due to the high temperature of hot drinks, this heat makes your body temperature rise which indicates to your brain and body that it needs to cool down. The result of this is your body will start producing more sweat to lose heat through the skin. As this sweat cools on your skin, it starts to evaporate and draw heat away from your body.
So, while a hot drink will make you hotter at first, the excess sweating has a cooling effect on the body… but there are a few caveats.
To trigger your sweat response for the cooling effect to work, it’s important that the sweat you’re expelling can evaporate. If you’re wearing restrictive or excessive clothing, or you’re sitting outside on a hot day, this will affect how easy it is for your sweat to evaporate. If you’re drinking a hot drink in these situations, you’ll more likely feel sticky, stuffy and far too hot, so it’s better to have a hot drink during the heatwave out of direct sunlight and while wearing loose clothing.
Another catch to this is that you shouldn’t be consuming too much caffeine during a heatwave. While you don’t have to completely cut out your morning cuppa, it’s important to limit your caffeine intake on a hot day. This is because caffeine is naturally dehydrating and as a diuretic, it makes you urinate more which results in you losing more fluids (this is also a big reason why you shouldn’t drink coffee first thing in the morning). During a heatwave, you want to be as hydrated as possible so losing fluids is a big no-no.
The best hot drinks to consume on a hot day are decaffeinated tea or coffee, hot water with lemon, green tea, mint tea, and other low caffeine drinks. In general, cold drinks are your best bet to stay cool in the heatwave. But if you want a hot drink, you might even feel cooler by having a quick brew… just make sure it’s decaf and you’re wearing loose clothing as you do so!