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Spicy foods and sports drinks: London health unit busts hot weather myths

The Middlesex-London Health Unit announced its second heat alert of the year Monday as Environment Canada forecasted humidex values in the 40 C range all week.

The hottest day of the week, according to Environment Canada, will be Thursday, when the temperature could hit 36 C with a humidex value of up to 45 C. Monday topped out at a mere 31 C with a humidex of 40 C, for comparison sake.

With all this talk of heat, Metro tasked the health unit with confirming or debunking common myths about the best ways to keep cool. From eating spicy foods to dry heat versus humid heat, they tackled them all.

Question: True or False: Eating hot, spicy foods will cool you down. Answer: False. Spicy foods generally increase circulation and therefore raise internal body temperature. While this may cause you to sweat, which may make you feel cooler depending on your health status, it may also increase your core body temperature.

 Gatorade (Getty Images)

Gatorade (Getty Images)

Q: Is it a good idea to use a sports drink to beat the heat? A: Drinking water and natural fruit juices are effective ways to stay hydrated. Sports drinks are designed to replenish minerals and salts lost during exertion or sports activities, they aren’t designed to cool you down.

Q: Should you be concerned about the medications you’re taking? A: It’s a good idea to consult your physician or pharmacist during extreme temperature days to find out whether certain medications should be taken.

Q: Is dry heat easier to deal with than humid heat? A: Neither is better than the other, as both can cause health concerns if not managed properly.

Q: True or False: If you feel you’re about to pass out, you should find the nearest pool or lake and dive in. A: False. In a confused state of mind, such as those that can be caused by extended exposure to extreme heat, jumping in the nearest body of water can cause other health and safety issues such as drowning. A cool bath or shower can be safe alternatives.

Q: Fans are the best way to stave off heat stroke. A: While research in the last few years has shown that when placed in an open window electric fans can draw in cooler air from outside, the same research also pointed out that when temperatures climb above 35 C, fans only blow the hot air at you which can actually cause heat gain and not cooling. So, at temperatures above 35 C, fans may not cool you off and may actually make you hotter

Some cool places this week

  •  City spray pads are open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Outdoor pools are open from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Childreach (265 Maitland St.) is opening its doors to anyone with children who want to cool off. Their playroom will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Thursday.
  • Nichols Arena (799 Homeview Rd.) offers shinny Wednesdays and Sundays. Check with the arena for details.

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