Why sipping a hot drink will cool you down better than something cold

02 February 2020 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Hot mint tea is a popular beverage in north African countries like Egypt and Morocco where the temperatures soar.
Hot mint tea is a popular beverage in north African countries like Egypt and Morocco where the temperatures soar.
Image: 123RF

Appropriate hydration is key to avoiding heat-related ailments and illnesses, but before you reach for something cold to cool you down, something warm may be a better option according to the South African Rooibos Council (SARC).

It sounds illogical that a hot drink could cool you down, but there is now hard science behind this folk belief.

A series of studies conducted by the University of Ottawa found that ingesting a hot drink on a summer day lowers the amount of heat stored by the body, provided that the perspiration produced by the hot beverage can evaporate.

Research director Joe Sward for SARC explains that perspiring is the body's way of cooling us down.

"As perspiration evaporates from the surface of the skin, it cools and removes excess heat to keep our body temperature in check," he said.

In SA, our climate is quite temperate with plenty of sunny, dry days, so drinking a warm cuppa in summer might not be such a crazy idea after all.