We ran across this article from the August 1952 issue of Reader’s Digest. It answered some of the biggest “burning” questions about keeping cool.
• Should you eat lightly? Studies show that many people feel sluggish in the summer because they eat too little. Doctors and dietitians agree that your need for nourishment is not determined by weather, but by the amount of energy you require. If your work and activities are pretty much the same summer and winter, your food requirements are similar too.
• Should you eat cool foods? The amount of heat released by any food depends less on temperature than on the calories it contains. Since you absorb only a small amount of the heat from hot food while you’re eating it, a platter of cold chicken will warm you more than a steaming cup of chicken soup. Why? Because it has more calories.
• Do iced drinks make you cool? A researcher from the University of Rochester has found that ice water isn’t an effective cooler because it interferes with the body’s normal temperature-regulating mechanism.
• Do you need a lot of salt? Many people think it’s urgent to pour extra salt on food or swallow salt pills to make up for salt lost in perspiration. But the average adult ordinarily consumes 10 to 15 grams of salt a day—more than enough to compensate for perspiration loss.
• Can men take hot weather better than women? Though it may chagrin male readers, a professor from Cornell has shown that women have a six-degree comfort range, whereas men only have a two-degree range. Physiologists point out that ill, fatigued people take heat harder than healthier ones, fat people are more susceptible than thin. Elderly people and children under eight can’t take too much heat.
• Will you keep cooler if you stay quiet and avoid exercise? Research from the Army finds that if you’re a normally healthy person, the more inactive you are, the more you may be affected by the heat.
• May you let an electric fan blow directly on you? There is conclusive evidence that this is perfectly healthful. A fan helps speed the evaporation of perspiration and lifts the layer of warm, still air that blankets your body. For best results, keep the fan close to the floor.
• Is air conditioning dangerous? Scientists have put to rest the notion that moving from a cool room to a hot one and back again is harmful. Even victims of heart or circulatory ailments were tested and they too made safe and easy adjustments. In fact, doctors have determined that during an oppressive heat spell, it may be wise to park yourself in an air-conditioned building.
• Will cold showers keep you cool? Experts say that a lukewarm shower will leave you feeling much cooler. But they also recommend something much simpler for relief: Soak your hand and forearm in cool—not cold—water.