The mercury is rising in many parts of Canada, and it’s practically our civic duty to complain about the weather. Hot, cold, it doesn’t matter; Canadians have an indisputable knack for being chronically uncomfortable — at least vocally — in any temperature that deviates from the average. But that doesn’t mean we can’t beat it.
So when the sweat is profusely beading on your upper lip and brow, or your already-light clothing feels like 100 pounds of wet fabric, what are you to do? Besides complaining, there are actual real things you can do to cool off, and The Loop is here to save your body precious hydration.
Let’s run through a few typical solutions proposed by someone who’s too hot, and see how effective they are.
“I’ll just go to Tim Hortons and get an Iced Capp.”
As most people know (and choose to ignore, because c’mon, these drinks are so delicious), caffeine is a diuretic. In other words, any beverage containing the evil-yet-wonderful compound makes you pee. And that’s the last thing you want when you’re already sweating bullets. You need as much water in your body as possible.
“I’ll just stay inside all day.”
VERDICT: Not wrong, but a bit extreme.
And do you really want to stay indoors all day? Canadians get but three months (on average) of warm/hot weather. Why spend it in front of the TV like you do in the winter? So yes, this plan will most likely keep your body temperature at a comfortable level, but it won’t be very fun to have your face pressed against the window, watching others frolic in the summer sun.
“I’ll just go for a dip in the pool/lake/ocean.”
VERDICT: Good plan, but it won’t hydrate you.
Nothing is more relieving than dipping your body into a cool body of water. Inherently, there’s nothing wrong with this idea, and it’ll definitely help bring your body temperature back to the normal range (if you were overheating). But remember that swimming is an activity, and your body will use precious energy to do it. Rigourous activity increases your dehydration unless you’re doing something to counteract it. So if you take water with you while swimming, then you might have a winner.
“I’m going to go have a beer on the patio.”
VERDICT: Fun, but probably not the best plan.
As with the caffeinated drinks, alcohol is also a diuretic. You know the whole “break the seal” thing. Once you start peeing, it just keeps coming. This is very, very bad for you if you’re already dehydrated. Expect worse symptoms, like pounding headaches, dizziness and potentially vomiting. You’ll be paying the price later, so keep it smart. If you’re drinking alcohol, do the 1:1 trick — for every drink, consume a glass of water too.
“I’ll take off all my clothes.” OR “I’ll just wear really light clothing.”
VERDICT: Hmm…not a bad choice.
If you’re in the comfort of your own home, wear your birthday suit. Do whatever you want. Obviously you need to wear something outside, unless you’re at a nude beach. Aside from that fairly rare scenario, let’s be real here: you can wear the lightest clothes crafted by fairies, and you’d still be sweating if it’s 40 degrees Celsius with humidity outside. So while yes, it is helpful to wear lighter breathable clothing and a big sun hat, it’s not a fix-all solution.
“I’ll just have some ice cream or a Popsicle.”
VERDICT: A tasty choice to be sure, but not a useful one.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious icy treat in the summer. We’re not monsters, we get it. But if you’re thinking that consuming a Popsicle or a bowl of ice cream is going to hydrate you, think again. Besides the sugar content, each of these treats contains a minimal amount of water, maybe around 50 mL, which is obviously insufficient to help you cool down in any way. It may feel nice to have a cold tongue, but don’t fool yourself.
“I’m going to eat some spicy food.”
VERDICT: Surprisingly, yes! Well done.
Though you may be inclined to cool down with a tall glass of lemonade, the effect isn’t lasting. After a while you’re back to where you started — sweaty and gross. That’s because your internal temperature is cooled too rapidly, and your body ends up compensating by raising your temperature. As a result, you feel hotter. Eating spicy foods works differently — it raises your internal temperature to match the external temperature. Your blood circulation increases, you start sweating and once your moisture has evaporated, you’ve cooled off. Bravo.
“I need to keep drinking water.”
VERDICT: Yes, yes and yes.
All the experts will tell you that this is the best approach, and really the only approach. Staying hydrated is the ultimate weapon in our battle to stay cool in the summer months. Carry a reusable, refillable bottle with you everywhere you go, and you’ll notice that even when you sweat it out, there’s plenty more where that came from!
So, in a nutshell: head outdoors with water, breathable clothing, a hat, and a container full of spicy food. The legions of sweaty, whiny messes around you will be very jealous when you say, “I’m actually OK.”