1. Stay hydated. To replace the moisture that you lose as you perspire, be sure to drink. As you lose water to dehydration, your body temperature rises, so replacing fluids is essential to keeping cool. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar, which are dehydrating. "Also opt for hydrating foods," says Deena Kastor, a marathon runner and an Olympic bronze medalist. "Try a smoothie for lunch, and add more fruits and vegetables to all your meals. Watermelon has the greatest water content of any food out there."
2. Eat light. There's a reason we reach for salads in the summer. They're easier to digest than, say, a fatty hamburger, which leaves you feeling sluggish in the high heat. Instead, go for fruits and vegetables, which are watery and help keep you hydrated (and cooler), says Robert Kenefick, a physiologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, in Natick, Massachusetts, which studies the effects of extreme climates on soldiers' bodies.
3. Spice it up. As people who live in scorching climates, such as those of Mexico and India, know well, eating hot stuff can cool you down. "Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that helps us to perspire more readily," says Rick Bayless, the James Beard Award-winning chef of Frontera Grill, in Chicago. When this sweat evaporates, you experience brief relief.4. Make a "cold compress." Fill a cotton sock with rice, tie the sock with twine, and freeze it for two hours before bedtime. Then slide it between the sheets. Rice retains cold for a long period because it's dense and starchy, says Jim Hill, Ph.D., an associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California at Davis. [By the way, you can use this same rice-filled sock as a heating pad - warm it up in the microwave for two minutes.]
5. Make a makeshift air conditioner. If it's hot but not humid, place a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan and enjoy the breeze. As the ice melts, then evaporates, it will cool you off.
6. Spritz yourself. Keep a spray bottle in the refrigerator, and when the going gets hot, give yourself a good squirt. "It's all about thermal regulation," says John Lehnhardt, an elephant expert at Disney's Animal Kingdom, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. "As the water evaporates, it cools you." While elephants wet their ears first by blasting water from their trunks, humans should begin with their wrists to quickly cool down the blood flowing through their veins.
7. Dress right. Wear one of the widely available synthetic fabrics designed to wick away sweat and that sticky feeling (examples include Coolmax and Nano-Tex); they're not just for athletes anymore. If you prefer cotton, make it thin, light colored, and, most of all, loose. "The best thing is to have sweat evaporate directly from skin to air," says Larry Kenney, a professor of physiology and kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park. "The next best thing is for the sweat to move quickly from your skin to clothing and then evaporate. Loose, billowy clothes allow air movement next to the skin and help with evaporation."
8. Go barefoot. As the sweat on your feet evaporates, it cools the skin and the blood in your feet. Blood vessels then whisk that blood to other parts of the body, so "you're getting a greater sensation of coolness," says Donald R. Bohay, M.D., a member of the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society.
9. Turn on the vent in the bathroom. When taking a shower, be sure to use the vent fan: It helps sticky moisture escape. [Use the vent fan every time the bathroom gets steamy, to reduce mold and mildew.]
And finally, my favorite:
10. Escape with a book. Relax with The Call of the Wild, Deception Point, Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making, or Blue Bell Ice Cream: A Century at the Little Creamery in Brenham, Texas "Reading about cold can take your mind off the thermometer, evoking one's own experience of ice and snow," says Walter A. Brown, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the medical schools of Brown and Tufts Universities and an expert in the placebo effect. "It's also a bit of self-hypnosis."
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