Tips on how to keep your body healthy, safe and warm during the polar vortex this week

As the Midwest is full of Antarctica-like temperatures, staying warm is of the upmost importance.

And thankfully, how your body breaks down food works as an internal heater.

Neat, right?

But along with our body’s natural methods of keeping us safe and warm, there are a few other ways your body can keep from losing its heat.

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While our body’s temperature shifts based on our environment, heat is lost frequently when frigid temperatures increase — making it tough to maintain normal body temperature.

Researches do know that natural physiological responses to cold as well as behavioral adaptations can also help keep your body close to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring you feel warm.

But with that being said, physical activity or layering of clothing can push the balance past what you actually need — in which case, you could experience an increase in body temperature and your body will start to sweat in an effort to cool down.

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This is not good as the evaporation of sweat will lead to greater rates of heat loss.

So what should you do to stay warm while keeping your wits about you?

First, be sure to eat a small snack.

Eating increases the body’s production of heat and the process of breaking down food will slightly increase body temperature.

Campers sometimes do this in an effort to stay warm throughout the night.

And while the metabolic impact of a small snack may not be overwhelmingly massive, the point between heat balance and heat loss is a small one.

And while you are in the cold, you may feel the sensation to urinate — even if you have just went.

Physicians coin this as cold diuresis.

It is a side effect of constricting blood vessels, resulting in an increase in blood pressure while the same amount of blood has a smaller space available to travel through your body.

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Another way to keep warm is to layer, layer, layer!

And while wearing a coat, hat and gloves is an obvious plus, increasing your clothing thickness or putting on layers helps dramatically.

Winter clothes are not just to warm you up, but to also help the heat you are producing from leaving your body as quickly.

Another tip?

Despite what many believe, the head is not the greater source of heat loss than compared to any other part of your body.

Let’s say you were able to wear a hat and no coat, your torso would be the one to contribute to the most heat loss thanks to how your body redistributes its blood in cold conditions.

So if you are able to keep your trunk warm, you will be able to maintain blood flow to your limbs and usually can keep the arms, legs, hands as well as feet, warm.

Running in place or keeping physically active is another way to keep your muscles to contract, which breaks down nutrients — therefore generating additional heat.

And additional heat production can help your body maintain the correct temperature.

But sweating can also pose an issue.

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If you are the one who wears their coat inside because you always feel cold, you may want to abstain the next time you feel the urge.

Your skin may be flushed as your body tries to dissipate excess heat inside and even worse, you may start to sweat.

And once you head back outside, you may feel colder than you initially would as the cold air can consume the heat from your skin with your sweat evaporating.

Dressing appropriately will help combat this.

Good luck friends, and god speed.

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