Hot drinks or cool drinks?
Here, drinking a hot drink in the height of summer seems a bit unusual. In fact, in our culture when it is hot, when we are sweaty or hot after physical activity, we are used to drink something cool to counteract the high temperature. Icicles, ice creams, slushes and drinks with ice: these are usually the remedies that we offer to a hot person. But this is not the case for everyone. In countries in the South of the world, such as in Latin America or in Africa in the desert, it is quite normal to offer a tea or a hot infusion. mate , for example, is a traditional hot infusion that is drunk in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, which is sipped slowly and has thirst-quenching and energizing functions. Not to mention the famous Moroccan tea which is poured hot from the ritual decorated jugs and stirred several times with the addition of sugar and mint leaves. These are just two of the various examples that can be found around the world of hot drinks consumed even in hot climates. It is simply a question of cultural habits, but also of climate and we will soon see why.
How can you cool off with hot drinks?
The relief does not lie in the first sip : the benefit is perceived over time. Hot drinks, in fact, are able to quench thirst for longer, unlike cold drinks which, on the other hand, certainly give relief, but only at first, and then soon return to suffer the heat even more intensely. It is also established by researchers and nutritionists that in fact, drinking hot drinks in the summer is the best way to cool off. How is this possible? The answer lies in the self-regulation of body temperature and above all in the perceived temperature difference. Let's explain : the heat of the drink introduced into the stomach increases the transpiration of the skin and helps the body to regulate its internal temperature in relation to that of the external environment. It makes you sweat and causes the superficial blood vessels to dilate, which favor the transfer of heat to the outside. Furthermore, our perception also helps us because if we drink something cold and therefore lower our temperature, the perceived difference will be greater than the external heat; while if we warm up by drinking hot tea, the gap between the body temperature and that of the environment will be smaller, with a consequent perception of relief.
Sweat is our ally
Sweat, which for many means something annoying to block or hide, is actually a mechanism for our body's well-being . Sweat should never be hindered, because it helps us self-regulate our temperature by expelling excess fluids. For this reason the more you sweat the more you cool down and sweating is good because it also allows you to expel toxins.
A matter of climates
The best climates for perspiration to take place in our favor are the driest ones (like the desert). Where, on the other hand, there is a lot of humidity, sweat does not evaporate, so it does not release body heat to the air. If a given cultural habit has established itself in a place, it is because over the centuries there have been good reasons that have caused a given human behavior to occur. And these reasons are related to the conditions of that specific territory. That is: there will be a good reason if in Seville you drink cold gazpacho, if in Rome you can have a good shaken coffee , if granita is a Sicilian pride and if traditionally we Italians are so experts in art of ice cream making. In Milan, even on the hottest summer days, it is not usual to have hot tea and there must be a reason.
The reason is the climate. Taking Milan again as an example, we note that the climate , especially on the hottest days, is almost never dry; indeed most of the time it is characterized by a sultry air, a kind of humid heat hood that makes (as we know!) perspiration very difficult. Therefore, the fact that the Tuareg or Berbers consume hot infusions in the middle of the desert is not a sufficient reason to start doing it anywhere else in the world, despite the fact that the physiological mechanism that leads to an undeniable benefit to the organism.
In short, the benefit is only there if the ambient air is dry to a level that allows the evaporation of the sweat produced by taking the hot drink. If the air, on the other hand, is humid, the hot drink can even be counterproductive.