4 Ways To Beat The Heat

Here in Toronto we are on the verge of officially declaring a “Heat Wave”. It is supposed to break next week but it’s still going to be very hot. It is uncomfortably hot and humid out there right now but we can’t let that get in the way of our lives. This week I’ve put together some suggestions on how to beat the heat this summer other than becoming an air conditioned hermit in your home.

1. Hydration
Our bodies run on water and so many people do not drink enough of it. I’ve definitely said this before but our bodies run on chemical reactions both within our cells and in our blood. Water is the solvent in which those chemical reactions occur, so every single cell and the spaces in between them are filled with the liquid. This is all well and good until you take into account that we also use this essential liquid to filter out toxins in our urine and, more importantly in this situation, we use it as a primary source of core temperature reduction as sweat.

So in hot weather we lose water consistently as we try to cool ourselves down but there is a limit to how much we can lose. Our body needs a minimum level of water in us to function let alone function optimally. So drink lots of water throughout the day to ensure you have enough to keep going and cool down too.

Another thing you can do it sprinkle water on your face, neck, and arms to help with the sweating process. The way that sweat cools us is that heat from our bodies is transferred to the water and it evaporates away. So putting extra water on our exposed skin can speed this up and keep the water in our body where it is for longer.

2. Wear Light Colours
Our clothing choices can make a big difference in our day during the summer. Lighter colours will reflect the sun’s heat more but darker colours will provide greater UV radiation protection. Personally, I would prefer to have a diet rich in antioxidants to help prevent skin damage than swelter in the heat with a dark shirt. Darker clothing will become hotter faster than lighter ones and make you want to jump into the closest water fountain.

3. Shade
Shade is your best friend on the ridiculously hot days. Find a tree to sit under for a few minutes when outside to cool down before you continue on your day and try to walk on the shady side of the street (despite what Louis Armstrong may say) . Doing this will also provide some UV protection.

UV protection is very important and we’ll get into that later but if you are worried you can always bring and umbrella with you. Sunscreen is a fairly controversial topic right now with some concerns about the toxic effect. If you want to learn more check out this link

4. Pick Your Parts
The body has some specific areas that lose heat faster than the rest of the body. These are the top of our heads, the feet, the arm pits, and the groin. Wear clothing that allows these areas of the body to get air flow and this will significantly decrease your temperature. If at all possible keep these areas bare for maximum flow. Of course, use some discretion as one of these bodily regions should not be bare in public. You can also position yourself near a fan or air conditioning vent in the office or home so that the cool air hits you in these areas (again, discretion please).

This is by far not an extensive list of heat beating tricks but it will definitely help on these killer days. Also, be sure to check in on older friends and relatives as well as geriatric physiology has greater difficulty dealing with extreme temperatures and dehydration.

Keep cool this summer and thanks for reading.
Dr. Ben

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