Have you ever noticed that people who live in countries where it’s hot all the time, deal with heat completely opposite to how we deal with heat?
Sitting with me right now is Taamir, from Lybia, one of the hottest countries in the world, where temperatures have been recorded as high as 1340 F/570 C and Gordon (call-me-Gordo) from Ottawa where people dropped like flies during this past weekend’s 850 F/300 C temperatures.
Let’s talk heat.
XUP: So, gentlemen, what’s the best way to deal with high, high temperatures?
GORDO: Crank up the A/C man!
TAAMIR: I do not wish to offend Mr. Gordo, but this is a very, very bad thing to do. When you spend your days in an air conditioned environment you are unable to adapt to the heat when you do have to go outdoors. This is very stressful to the body and can cause much illness and even death. Moving from very cool conditions into very hot and back and forth again takes a heavy toll on the body. It makes you more susceptible to colds, flu and many other ailments and will wreak havoc with your organs over the long term. Also, air conditioning will make you fat because your body does not have to expend any energy to keep itself cool
XUP: Oh dear. So maybe we should keep the A/C off or very low. What about clothing? I notice you’re wearing a dark robe-like ensemble today, Taamir. Isn’t that hot?
TAAMIR: Very much the opposite, Missy Zoop, you see…
XUP: Sorry to interrupt, but what did you call me?
TAAMIR: Missy Zoop. Is that not your name? X.U.P. is not pronounced Zoop?
XUP: I never really thought about it, but okay. Please go on with what you were saying.
TAAMIR: Dark clothing absorbs sunlight and the heat radiating from your body, but if it is loose-fitting, and there is even a small breeze, the wind convects the heat away faster than it is absorbed. Dark fabric provides more shade than white fabric, and so decreases the amount of light that directly reaches the skin. Plus, warm air rises and is replaced by cool air. The movement of the warm air creates a breeze under my robes that sucks up cooler air from the bottom of the robe and pushes it out the top. So wearing a dark robe is like having a suit with a built in fan.
GORDO: Whoa man, that’s like totally messed up. I’d so completely go mental if I had to, like, wear that blanket to the beach. As you can see, I keep cool in my cut-offs and tank, man. I say the less shit you have to wear, the better, right? That makes sense.
XUP: Well, Gordo, it certainly seems to make sense to millions of Canadians who strip down as the temperatures go up. How about food, guys? What do we like to eat on hot days to keep us cool?
GORDO: Let me answer that in one word: Bar-Bee-Cue! Whooooo! We eat everything off the barbeque in the summer, man. We don’t have to heat up the house with the oven and we get to eat all the stuff that makes life worth living: steaks, ribs, chops, burgers and brats. A little potato salad and some corn on the cob on the side – oh ya!
TAAMIR: Oh dear, oh dear. It is a great wonder indeed that you have all not expired from heart failure by now. This heavy starchy, fatty diet is acceptable if you lived in the arctic, but for hot weather, you need spicy food. Spice increases blood circulation, which brings more hot blood from the core of the body to the skin’s surface and dilates capillaries in the skin. This makes you sweat which is the best defense against heat, bringing the heat out and away from your body.
XUP: I love spicy foods, so I have no problem with that theory. But, what about drinks, Taamir? We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that hot drinks cool you off. Is that true?
GORDO: That’s total crap! Everyone knows when it’s hot nothing goes down better than an ice cold BEER!! Whoooooo!! Or for the pansies, Coke, iced tea or lemonade. Right, dude?
TAAMIR: Again, I am sorry to say, you are quite mistaken. While there is nothing to be gained from consuming the aforementioned old wives’ hot beverages on a hot day, cold beverages will do you more harm than good – most particularly those of an alcoholic nature. Consuming drinks that are too cold when one feels hot is dangerous as it freezes the throat and stomach. It could lead to bad digestion, gastric problems, breathing difficulties, cold and flu, sinusitis, so on and so forth. I recommend room temperature beverages, with alcohol and caffeinated drinks in moderation.
XUP: Thanks for clearing that up. Any other advice on how to make the best of the hot weather, Taamir?
GORDO: Waddya keep asking him for? It’s summer, man! We can’t live like Bedouins in Canada. We’re all tired of being cooped up inside watching the snow fall. We wanna get out to the cottage, to the beach, play some ball, have some picnics, do some gardening, pitch some horseshoes, swim, waterski. Vacation time! Patios, patios, patios. Whoooooo!
TAAMIR: We usually a nap at midday.
There you have it. Two completely different ways of dealing with the heat. Can we learn anything from Taamir? Or does Gordo have a point?