With the extreme heat during the summer months there is nothing quite as refreshing as ice cream to cool you down, I mean cold foods = cooling down, right?

It turns out that ice cream makes your body warmer.

 But hang on; the temperature difference from hot to cold in the beginning gives you a cooling sensation, those first few moments of relief when enjoying an ice cream on a hot day are not entirely a figment of your imagination. When we eat ice cream, we feel cool sensations due to receptors in our mouth and the gastrointestinal tract that recognize the cold temperature. These sensory characteristics like the cooling effect on our tongue, the flavor, and overall sweetness contribute to the positive experience of enjoying ice cream on a hot day. However, once the components of the ice cream start to break down, the cooling effect is diminished, and it turns out that ice cream makes your body warmer. 

Why you ask well, it is all about the ingredients.

 It turns out the fat content in the ice cream is what makes your body warmer. Most ice creams contain at least 10% milk fat and the predominant ingredients are milk fat and sugar. 

Foods containing more fat, protein, and carbohydrates heat the body while digesting the food, your body will feel warmer, and fats are notorious for moving slowly through the digestive system so, it takes more energy to digest that fat. This process is called diet-induced thermogenesis. In turn, anytime you are putting more energy through the system, whether it be digestion or exercise, your body tends to heat up.

It’s not just ice cream that is advertised as a cooling treat.

 Iced coffee and beer are often advertised as a cooling beverage when in fact they too have the opposite effects of removing fluid from the body. Despite feeling a cooling sensation in our mouths, like with ice cream, iced coffee and beer make us urinate more frequently and we lose water as a result. And if we have less water in our bodies that we need to sweat, we will not feel as cool.

It’s good to sweat!

Although sweat might not seem like the nicest thing it has a purpose, and its main function is to control the body’s temperature. As the sweat evaporates into the atmosphere, the skin’s surface cools through a process called evaporative cooling. The more sweat a body produces, the cooler the body will be. Even though this might sound horrendous, consuming hot foods and drinks in the summer will help regulate your body temperature. This is because hot drinks or soups make your core body temperature rise as a result your body will want to cool down and you will end up sweating more and lose heat through your skin.

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Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.