You Should Think Twice About Drinking Alcohol To Keep Warm

With the temperatures quickly dropping close to the holidays, you're probably looking for ways to keep yourself warm over the upcoming winter months. While blasting the heater on its highest setting, starting up a fire, or brewing one too many cuppas of tea are all equally good options, there's one drink that's popularly presumed to be the best way to keep your body warm: alcohol.

Alcohol is often a go-to when it comes to warming up during winter. A part of its popularity during this time might also have something to do with the hot and boozy drinks that start popping up everywhere, likeĀ eggnogs, mulled wines, and hot toddies. As delicious as these alcoholic drinks are, if you're reaching for them as a means to keep yourself warm, you might want to think twice the next time you do it. Mental Floss suggests alcohol does the exact opposite of keeping you warm by lowering your body's core temperature. Even when you think that your body is finally starting to warm up, you're actually getting a lot colder. In fact, as little as one drink can begin lowering your internal temperature. When you reach for alcohol in severely cold temperatures, you're actually doing your body more harm than good.

Even when you think you're warm, alcohol makes you colder

According to Mental Floss, alcohol gives you a false sense of warmth in cold weather. In reality, alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it dilates your blood vessels by bringing more blood to the surface of your skin. While this gives you an instant sense of warmth and makes you look flushed, it can be dangerous. Your body's natural defense mechanism against the cold is to minimize the amount of blood present under the skin's surface, and alcohol does the exact opposite of that.

Cleveland Clinic also warns that this instant flush of blood under your skin can ward off frostbite but at the cost of not having enough blood for your body's organs to function effectively. The temporary warmth on your skin can also make you sweat, further making the core temperature of your body drop.

Even more dangerous is the fact that your body's natural way of warming up is by shivering. When you drink alcohol, you're stopping your body from shivering, taking away another mechanism that your body automatically uses to get back to an even temperature. But that's not all. Alcohol makes you run to the bathroom. This dehydrates your body which in turn makes it more susceptible to hypothermia. While alcohol does make you feel instantly warmer, it's really just getting in the way of your body's natural way of dealing with the cold, effectively making you much colder.