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Myths about eating cool in the summer

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chocolate gelato scoopDo spicy foods really cool you down in the summer? What about an ice cold beer? Author Charles Stuart Platkin helpfully went out and tracked down a group of food scientists to ask these crucial questions in an effort to clear the air of some summertime food myths.

Ice cold beer may taste great going down, but if you want to really cool off, you’ll be better off using it to bake bread and drinking some cold water, instead. Beer can dehydrate you (“by inhibiting the release of the hormone vasopressin”), which essentially means that it will take your body longer to cool down and will take more energy to do it, resulting in a counterproductive warming trend.

Ice cream, it turns out, doesn’t help much either. It does help you cool down at first, as body heat is transferred to the ice cream. It all comes back during digestion, however, so any cooling feeling will last only about 15-20 minutes.

There is one type of food that actually does take the heat: spicy foods. When you eat spicy foods, your body reacts to the heat of the food by sending “a surge of blood to the skin, somewhere on the body.” This leads to sweating and, as long as you are sitting somewhere with some sort of breeze, you will begin to feel cooler as the sweat on your skin dissipates.

Unfortunately, There isn’t all that much to be said for baked goods on the cooling front, although in spite of the fact that ice cream can apparently heat you up, I still think that a good ice cream sandwich can be the perfect treat on a hot day.

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