July 21, 2006
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
UMDNJ Nutritionist Says Hot Soup, Spicy Food May Provide Heat Relief
NEWARK — Bottled water appears to be the healthiest and most refreshing choice to quench your thirst during a heat wave, but hot soup and spicy foods may actually provide some cool relief, says a nutrition expert at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Some people actually like to cool down with hot soup or spicy foods, said Dr. Diane Radler, a clinical nutritionist and registered dietitian at the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions. Believe it or not, some people like consuming hot soup and spicy foods in hot weather, which enables their body temperatures to quickly rise and begin perspiring. Sweating is the body’s response to increased temperature and may make you feel cooler, Dr. Radler noted.
Eating soup and spicy food in hot weather can help cope with the heat, but ice-cold liquid refreshments are essential to help a body maintain its proper temperature and desired hydration levels. “You can never have too many fluids in your system during excessive hot weather,” said Dr. Radler. “Whether its ice cold bottled water or another beverage, it is imperative to replace lost water and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) to prevent dehydration.”
Dr. Radler said that sports drinks are geared more for well-conditioned athletes who are accustomed to grueling exercise in brutally hot weather, and that the sugar they contain also contribute to active thirst and possibly tooth decay over time.
Although dehydration occurs primarily in the elderly during severe heat episodes, it can happen to younger people, particularly during athletic activities in extreme heat. Refraining from caffeine or alcohol consumption can help diminish the potential for dehydration.
The elderly are more prone to instances of dehydration in intense heat, Dr. Radler said. To test for signs of dehydration, a person can compress the skin on their arms and if it is slow to bounce back to its original position, it may be a sign of dehydration. Also, dizziness when first getting out of a chair or getting up from a couch is another indicator, as is dark urine.
UMDNJ is the nations largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the states three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.