Because human beings are warm-blooded animals, the human body vigorously works to maintain an ideal internal temperature to ensure all organs and mechanisms work properly. Georgia State University reports the human body must maintain a temperature between 98 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit to work properly; however, due to outside influences or the consumption of certain drugs, the body is not always able to maintain this temperature. While the inability to maintain the ideal body temperature may be cause for concern, if your body is cold due to winter air or some other outside influence, certain foods may be consumed to raise internal bodily temperatures.
The process of heating the body through dietary sources is known as thermogenesis, or diet-induced thermogenesis. After food is consumed, the body begins to work to digest this food for several hours, thus resulting in increased energy. As food is digested, it activates brown adipose tissue, which is a special form of fat deposits with a specialized protein known as mitochondria. Once the digesting process is started, the mitochondria react, which causes heat production. The National Council of Strength and Fitness reports the amount of heat generated from dietary sources is solely dependent on the type of food consumed and the number of calories within the food.
Root vegetables require more energy to digest than their above-ground vegetable counterparts. As the body works to break down these food items, energy is created, which through the process of thermogenesis, increases bodily temperature. SummitDaily.com outlines an article from the Associated Press stating root vegetables such as cabbage, kale, sweet potatoes, carrots and potatoes are among the most effective root vegetables to create internal heat.
Hot peppers not only add flavor and heat to culinary dishes, but when consumed, certain spices may help increase the internal bodily temperature. Peppers such as chili peppers within the capsicum family are among the most well-known spices to raise internal body temperatures. As these spices are consumed, it stimulates the circulatory system and raises the body temperature. It is vital to take caution when consuming hot peppers, as some of these peppers may actually burn the interior of the mouth and esophagus if you’re not used to such spiciness. Those with ulcers should not consume hot peppers of any type, as they may slow the healing of the ulcer, according to Jane E. Brody of the "New York Times."
While the ideology of consuming heat-generated foods does not include the temperature the foods are served at, if you require immediate heat, consuming warm foods may provide temporary relief from cold weather. Foods such as hot soup immediately begin to increase bodily temperatures; however, this warming effect is only temporary as digesting raw foods increases bodily temperatures for longer periods of time than cooked foods.
- Georgia State University; Temperature Regulation of the Human Body; R. Nave
- “The New York Times” Newspaper; Eating Spicy Food: What are the Effects?; Jane. E. Brody; September 1983
- National Council of Strength and Fitness: Diet Induced Thermogenesis
- Alternative Healthzine: Top Ten Health Tips for Winter
- Nutrimax Organic; Stay Healthy with a Body Temperature of 37 Degrees Celsius; Edwin Low
- SummitDaily.com; ‘Warming Foods’ and Spices Can Help Fend Off Winter Chills; Phyllis Glazer; January 2006