Summer is synonymous with cold beers and frozen desserts, but are these the best choices for beating the heat? What are good ways to keep your body cool when temperatures rise?
 
5 Ways to Stay Cool in a Summer Swelter
 
1. Eat cool. According to traditional Chinese medicine, there are specific “cooling foods.” Vegetables that help you stay cool and energized include cucumber, onion (which may prevent heat stroke), fennel, mint, radishes, sea vegetables (kombu, kelp, wakame, spirulina), spinach and arugula. Their high water content, ability to assist in releasing built-up body heat, and blood thinning  characteristics have cooling effects. Toss them into salad, wrap them in rice paper to make veggie rolls, or purée them into cold gazpacho soup.
 
2. Don’t drink iced coffee. Caffeine increases metabolism by stimulating the release of fatty acids from the body's fat tissues, which in turn can increase body temperature. A 2011 Clinical Nutrition study found that coffee and milk/dairy products increase thermogenesis (the process of converting calories to heat). Unless you want to perspire your way to cooling down, consider other drinks. Try coconut water (high in electrolytes), or make melon (which has cooling properties) “slushies” by combining cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon and ice in a blender.
 
3. Reduce “warm” foods, even when they’re cold. Whole grains and other complex carbs (potatoes, lentils) with lots of fibre, and red meat (protein-dense animal muscle) require more energy and stomach acid secretion to break down. These make the body work harder to digest them which increases body heat. Limit these during the hottest hours of the day and at late evening meals when your stomach is still trying to digest dinner as you are trying to sleep.
 
4. Go spicy. If you don’t mind perspiring to cool down, hot spices like peppercorns, chili and cayenne peppers do the trick. Capsaicin, the primary chemical, causes your body to respond as if it were in a hot environment by activating the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that signals sweat glands. Curry spices and ginger also heat you up and can cause sweating. (FYI: ginger, cardamon and peppers don’t leave body odour like cumin can).
 
5. Get creative at bedtime. Bed linens made of lightweight cotton or wool are breathable, wick perspiration away, and promote ventilation in the bedroom. Stick sheets in the refrigerator for a few minutes before bed (placed in a plastic bag) to help you fall sleep initially. Fill a hot water bottle, put it in the freezer and stick it at your feet to create a bed-friendly ice pack. Make a DIY air conditioner by positioning a shallow pan full of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the surface. Apply an ice pack to wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and behind the knees just before bed, or if you can, a cool shower brings down core body temperature and rinses off sweat.

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