There is an epic battle raging between husbands and wives, roommates and co-workers every day in every corner of the country. It’s the battle over the thermostat, and it can be brutal. Everyone has a strong opinion and their own ideal temperature.
But why do we all have different temperature needs? And why does it seem like some people are always cold?
According to internal medicine physician, Lianne Marks, MD, PhD, FACP, feeling cold has more to do with our body chemistry and less to do with the environment we’re in.
“Feeling cold is most commonly related to metabolic rate,” Dr. Marks said. “If someone has a lower metabolic rate due to low thyroid levels or skipping meals, then they will feel colder.”
The doctor also said that not getting enough sleep, having anemia or having poor muscle density can also contribute to poor circulation and that nagging cold feeling.
“An imbalance of hormones can also affect temperature,” she said.
So, how can those who battle to keep the cold at bay feel warmer?
Dr. Marks suggests adopting some new behaviors to help warm you up and live peacefully with others who aren’t as chilly.
“First and foremost, go to your doctor and make sure that your thyroid levels are normal, your blood counts are normal, and you aren’t suffering from a vitamin deficiency,” she said. “If all of those things are normal, then the next step is to avoid skipping meals. This will help keep your metabolic rate up.”
The doctor said eating small, healthy, frequent meals will help to keep your metabolic rate moving quickly, burning more calories, and creating enough heat to warm you.
Here are few other suggestions that will help you keep warm in any environment.
- Avoid junk food – Heavy, greasy foods and sweets can make the problem worse in terms of your metabolic rate.
- Eat healthier meals – include meat, protein and lots of fiber to keep your body fueled and burning calories to make heat.
- Make sure your core is warm – wear sweaters, coats and other warm clothing on your body when you’re in cold weather. This will help to pump warm blood toward your extremities (fingers, toes, etc.).
- Exercise – working out increases your muscle mass over the long term, and improves your metabolic rate.
Although in most cases so-called “cold natured” people are simply cold because they are overtired, under nourished or anemic, there are some medical conditions that can cause that excessive cold feeling.
That is why, according to Dr. Marks, it is important for patients to see their doctors if they can’t seem to warm up.
“I had one patient who came to see me, and her only complaint was that she was cold all of the time,” she said. “It turned out that she had severe anemia that was the result of colon cancer.”
Although there are many ways to combat the cold feeling, there are some causes of the constant chill that aren’t curable—like aging.
“Unfortunately, that’s something that’s not very treatable,” Dr. Marks said. “It’s very common for [older people] to feel cold. We think it’s related to hormone fluctuations and a generalized slowing of a person’s metabolic rate as they age.”
Even though there’s no way to reverse the effects of aging, eating small, frequent meals, exercising and employing some of the other behaviors Dr. Marks suggested can also help elderly people warm up as well.
So, the next time you feel that icy chill creep up on you, try one of the doctor’s methods before changing the temperature on the thermostat and upsetting those around you.
Do you always feel cold? What ways have helped you warm up?