Keeping warm is a basic principle for staying healthy. In Canada, especially in the cold seasons, we need to make a special effort to maintain a properly elevated body temperature and avoid getting chilled.
One way that we can keep warm is by paying attention to the temperature of the foods we eat and drink. This is especially important when it comes to foods that come directly from the refrigerator or freezer. A refrigerator keeps food at a temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius, and a freezer keeps food at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile our body is working all the time to maintain its temperature of around 37 degrees Celsius. Cold food and drink might taste refreshing, but they cool the body and force it to expend extra energy on digestion and maintaining a normal body temperature. Just think of how much energy and heat is needed to melt ice cream that has come straight from the freezer. Even eating foods that are at room temperature (around 21 degrees Celsius) will cool the body a little bit.
Ingesting very cold foods and drinks also has the effect of weakening the organs of the digestive tract. When the stomach and intestines get cold, bacteria such as E.coli can grow more easily and spread throughout the body. At the cellular level, bacterial proliferation can interfere with mitochondrial functioning and impair cellular activity. Mitochondria are organelles found in every cell of the body. Each mitochondrion provides the cell with needed energy through a series of chemical processes called cellular respiration that converts nutrients into energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
When abnormal bacterial growth interferes with mitochondrial functioning, ATP production drops and metabolic processes within cells break down. The consequences of this can be widespread, since the health of every organ, gland and tissue in the body depends on strong metabolic functioning. For example, when metabolic functioning in the pancreas is weak, it can result in low insulin production. In the pituitary gland, production and secretion of hormones that regulate thyroid and adrenal functioning can be affected. In the brain, neurotransmitter production and metabolism of monoamines such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine can be affected. In many cases, severe disease can result.