Be warned, as this might make you want to spit out
your coffee, but that hot drink you're sipping on could actually be
making you colder.
And that's not the only thing making it hard to stay
warm as the temperatures continue to drop around you. You're going
to need all the advice you can get in order to stay toasty this
winter. Although you might already know that a
space heater is a great way to heat up a room, or that Canadian
Goose is apparently the jacket of 2013, there are other important
warming techniques you might be getting wrong, or perhaps new ones
you simply had no idea existed.
Below are 10 things that'll help you avoid having to do this all
1. Alcohol doesn't make you any warmer.
Drinking alcohol lowers your core
body temperature, increases your risk for hypothermia and
prevents your body from naturally shivering
to keep warm. The reason why you feel warm while drinking alcohol is
that your blood vessels dilate and send warm blood away from your
core and towards your skin. This effect is only temporary and in the
end significantly decreases your body's ability to fight the cold.
2. But you might warm
up by eating gingerbread cookies.
The root herb ginger is a centuries-old medicinal
supplement used to soothe colds, motion sickness and other stomach
problems. And according to lore, it also "gets the blood flowing"
and softens cold hearts, metaphorically, at least. One study
conducted on rats showed that ginger, even as an ingredient in food, has
the ability to raise body temperatures. There's a reason we tend to
associate gingerbread with the cold of wintertime -- people
traditionally believed the herb tostimulate the body and increase
blood circulation. Now how much ginger are you going to put in that
On top of the possibility that ingesting ginger can
raise your temperature, evidence suggests other foods can help you
warm up too. Hot peppers cause
sweating, andbrown rice and
other complex carbs make you warmer because they're harder to
Don't bother with the gumdrop buttons, they won't warm you up.
3. Feeling cold is all in your mind.
Tibetan monks practicing a rare form of meditation
known as g-tummo, said to control "inner energy," can
raise their core temperature at
will. Researchers at the National University of Singapore found that
even Westerners taught to practice a basic form of g-tummo in the
form of two breathing
successfully warm themselves up. One technique required the
participant to concentrate on envisioning flames at the base of the
spine, and the other involved "vase breath," a breathing method that
produces heat. A Dutch
man used similar techniques to
climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009 wearing only shorts and sandals.
(Note: We do not recommend this). Believe in yourself. You are warm.
4. Loneliness can lower your body temperature.
It's no fun to be ignored, as anyone who's attended
middle school can attest, but a
pair of researchers at the University of Toronto say
that lack of social contact can lead to physical consequences. In
other words, giving someone the "cold shoulder" can actually make
them feel colder.
In one study, participants were split into two
groups, asked either to recall a situation in which they felt
included or excluded. When later asked to estimate the room
temperature, participants who had described social exclusion gave
lower estimates. In another study, participants who were made to
feel excluded in a virtual ball-tossing game expressed a stronger
desire for warm food and drink afterward. So the next time your
house seems drafty, call up a friend or family member.
5. Hot drinks might actually cool you off.
When having a hot drink, nerve receptors in your
tongue (specifically the TRPV1
Receptor) signal to the rest of your body that something "hot" is
coming and you need to start sweating. Neuroscientist Peter
McNaughton of the
University of Cambridge told
NPR that, "The hot drink
somehow has an effect on your systemic cooling mechanisms, which
exceeds its actual effect in terms of heating your body." For the
sweat to really cool you off, it
needs to evaporate -- if
it just dampens your clothes or drips off, it won't do you any
On the opposite end, apparently consuming too much of
a cold drink can actually
warm you up as it causes
your blood vessels to tighten.
6. You don't catch a cold because of cold weather.
Exposure to lower temperatures doesn't give you a
cold by itself. According to the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services there
is, "no experimental evidence that exposure to cold temperatures
increases the chances that you will get a cold." Instead, the rise
in sickness and colds in the winter months is typically linked to
people spending more time
indoors, which allows germs to transfer between people more easily.
This said, there's a possibility many of us already have traces of
the common cold dormant in our systems during the winter months, and
therefore that exposure to cold temperatures weakens
our immune systems enough for
the viruses to take hold of our bodies. So you might as well still
put on that jacket, but you probably don't have to fret about
"catching cold" as much as your grandma led you to believe.
7. Your body heat isn't mostly escaping through your head.
This myth actually stems from research
done on military arctic weather clothing that
didn't cover the soldiers' heads, so naturally the most heat escaped
from the uncovered area. In reality, you lose about 7
to 10 percent of your body heat from your head, which is about the
same amount of surface
area your head accounts for.
Just don't take your helmet off in space and you should be fine.
8. Men and women actually do feel cold at different temperatures.
A 1998 study found
that while men's and women's core temperatures didn't
vary by much, just 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit, women's hands were much
colder than men's, suggesting they experience body heat differently.
Turns out that men tend
to have more muscle massthan women, who typically have a higher fat
ratio. Muscle is good at producing heat and fat is good for storing
it, giving the advantage to men, who tend to have more muscle mass
and lower body fat percentages.
9. If your ancestors during the Ice Age lived in the north, you do
have an advantage against the cold.
Having ancestors who lived in northern climates
predisposes many people to better handle
the cold. California geneticists led by Dr. Douglas C. Wallace of
the University of California, Irvine, found that these genetic
mutations are still found in many Northern Europeans, East Asians
and Native Americans who stem from Siberian origins, but is absent
in people whose ancestry remained longer in Africa. The research
concluded that this distinction might also be the cause for a,
"greater burden of certain diseases in the African-American
10. Wearing white might actually be the warmest color.
Black clothing absorbs heat from the sun and white
clothing reflects it, but the common wisdom that white should be
worn in summer and darker clothes in wintermight need to be
rethought. White's function as a reflector also appears to apply to
body heat, meaning that wearing it may trap your natural heat close
to your body in looser fitting clothes, like a jacket. Dark
clothing, meanwhile, may be less likely to trap your body heat in,
especially when it is loose fitting and there is wind to help
convect it away. This theory is based on studies of bird plumage by
Blair O. Wolf and Glenn E. Walsberg,published in Oxford Journals,
but unfortunately nobody has actually proven that these findings
work for clothes. A largely forgotten article in The
New York Times from 1910 followed
a study on this theory that ended up inconclusive -- but maybe you
can be the one to finally test it out this winter.
Bonus: The cold weather can help you lose weight.
Tried all this and still shivering? Hey, at least
you're losing weight! In cold temperatures the body works harder to
warm itself up, not only burning
more calorieswhile working out but activating
brown fat, which burns them more efficiently than white fat. Some
people apparently believe that punishing
themselves with icy-cold temperatures can
help them lose more weight...
But you've still got to work for it.