One drink you should always have when it's hot - and it's not water

Dehydration leading to headache as woman sits on a bench in the city and drinks water.
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Hot weather is continuing to heat up the UK, putting Brits at risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration, and exacerbating existing medical conditions. Vulnerable populations like the elderly and children are particularly at risk, as well as women — where heat-related deaths are 56% higher than among men.

Staying in the shade, applying sun cream and drinking plenty of water can all help lessen your risk of falling ill when the weather is this hot. However, besides water, there is another type of drink that experts are urging Brits to get more of.

It comes as Walter Gjergja, Chief Wellness Officer and co-founder of personal trainer app Zing Coach, has shared his five essential tips to survive the heatwave while taking gentle care of your well-being. And some might surprise you.

1. Drink warm beverages and minty drinks

A warm drink to cool you down may seem counterproductive, but slightly raising or at least matching your internal temperature prevents “cold shock” and facilitates sweat, which cools your skin as it evaporates. It’s particularly effective in dry climates where sweat evaporates quickly.

Drinking a warm beverage can cause your body to perspire quickly in order to regulate temperature as your body responds to keeping your core temperature steady at around 37C. Whereas consuming a cold drink will slow down the sweating process.

Ollie Jay, a researcher at University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics, added: "A hot drink can cool you down, but only in specific circumstances. If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate."

However, in more humid conditions, you need ice cubes — and lots of them. Make mint tea, freeze it in an ice cube tray, and suck on them slowly (make sure to warm up the liquid in the mouth before swallowing it) when you’re feeling a little too hot.

Mint has a naturally refreshing effect, activating the cold-sensitive receptors in your mouth to make you feel cooler even if your temperature hasn’t changed.

2. Avoid hot and heavy meals

Warm food can have the same effect, but good luck working up an appetite for a hot meal when the sun’s shining. If you’re not hungry, try to snack on hydrating foods, such as water-rich fruits or leafy greens.

Watermelon, cucumber, berries, and salads offer a refreshing taste and replenish the fluids and nutrients your body desperately needs during a heatwave. If you really can’t stomach a meal, coconut water will at least provide electrolytes to keep your energy levels up.

3. Apply a cold compress to your pulse points

Putting a cold compress on your wrists, neck, and temple — where the major arteries are closest to the skin's surface — can alleviate heat quickly. If you don’t have an ice pack handy, make your own.

Fill a sock with rice, tie it off, and freeze it. Rice retains coldness for longer than ice and it’s easier to mould around different parts of your body. Just drape it over your warm spots and wait for your body temperature to drop.

4. Create a cooling mist

Fill a spray bottle with water and add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus. These essential oils are known for their cooling properties, helping to stimulate circulation and open your airways so the warmth in your body can escape.

When you need to cool down, shake it well and spritz your face, neck, and arms with the mist. The water will evaporate quickly, so it won’t give you that sticky feeling, but not before lowering your temperature and making you feel refreshed.

5. Don’t forget the basics

Keep a water bottle handy and drink plenty throughout the day — especially if alcohol or caffeine is involved, which will do nothing to quench your thirst and will in fact dehydrate you faster. You’re best off staying indoors and avoiding exercise between 11 am and 4 pm, the hottest hours of the day.

However, if you must head out, keep it brief and seek shade whenever possible. When planning your outfit, you ideally want loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing to avoid absorbing more heat. Likewise, check the label and make sure it’s made from a breathable material, such as cotton, rather than something synthetic, such as polyester and nylon, which are your worst enemies during a heatwave.