'Surprising' drink can cool you down during UK heatwave - and it's not water

Woman drinking a water bottle
-Credit: (Image: Getty)


The UK is currently experiencing a scorching heatwave this week. And with the soaring temperatures, comes serious health risks such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration.

To combat the sweltering conditions, experts recommend seeking shade, slathering on sun cream, and staying hydrated. But beyond water, there's another beverage that could be key in managing the heat.

Walter Gjergja, Chief Wellness Officer and co-founder of Zing Coach, has revealed his top five tips for coping with the heatwave while taking care of your well-being. And they may just surprise you.

1. Drink warm beverages and minty drinks

Contrary to what you might think, a warm drink can actually help cool you down. By slightly increasing or matching your internal temperature, you avoid "cold shock" and encourage sweating, which then cools your skin as it evaporates especially effective in arid environments where sweat quickly dissipates.

A hot drink prompts your body to start sweating sooner in an effort to regulate temperature, maintaining your core at around 37C. On the other hand, a cold beverage could slow down the sweating process, hindering your body's natural cooling mechanism.

Ollie Jay, a researcher from the University of Ottawa's School of Human Kinetics, said: "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, when humidity is high, ice cubes are a go-to, and in abundance too. Whip up some mint tea, pop it into an ice cube tray to freeze, then slowly suck on them when you're feeling overly warm (be sure to let the liquid warm up in your mouth before swallowing).

Mint has a natural cooling effect, so it triggers the cold-responsive receptors in the mouth, which makes you feel cooler, even if your actual body temperature hasn't shifted.

2. Give hot and heavy dishes a miss

Warm meals can have the same impact, but persuading yourself to eat a stodgy meal when there's scorching sunshine outside could be a tall order. If a full-on meal feels like too much, try hydrating snacks such as juicy fruits or leafy veg.

Refresh yourself with watermelon, cucumber, berries and salads, all of which not only taste refreshing but also replenish crucial fluids and nutrients that your body craves in the midst of a heatwave. If eating really isn't on the cards, coconut water should do the trick, supplying electrolytes to help maintain your energy levels.

3. Pop a cool press on your pulse points

Applying a cold compress to your wrists, neck, and temple - where the major arteries are closest to the skin's surface - can help cool you down quickly. If you don't have an ice pack to hand, you can make your own.

Simply fill a sock with rice, tie it off, and pop it in the freezer. Rice holds onto the cold for longer than ice and is easier to shape around different parts of your body. Just place it over your warm spots and wait for your body temperature to decrease.

4. Make a cooling mist

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

When you need to cool down, give it a good shake and spritz your face, neck, and arms with the mist. The water will evaporate quickly, avoiding any sticky residue, but not before reducing your temperature and leaving you feeling refreshed.

5. Remember the basics

Always keep a water bottle close by and drink plenty throughout the day - particularly if you're consuming alcohol or caffeine, which won't quench your thirst and will actually dehydrate you faster. It's best to stay indoors and avoid exercise between 11am and 4pm, which are typically 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-coloured 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.