The reasons you're feeling cold may not always be obvious. Often, feeling cold no matter the temperature outside can be a sign of an underlying condition, whereas other times, feelings of coldness are related to body size. No matter the cause, it can be uncomfortable to regularly feel cold, and turning to food to help you stay warm can be a good solution.
Why Are You Always Cold?
Regularly feeling cold can be a symptom of some illnesses or of a chronic condition that requires treatment. Working with a primary health care provider to help you identify why you're always cold will help ensure you receive proper treatment.
Here are five reasons you may be feeling cold.
Illness with Fever
A high body temperature can result in feeling chilled, caused by muscles contracting and relaxing as a way to stay warm, per MedlinePlus. Running a fever is a symptom of many types of illnesses and requires treatment to address the disease as well as the fever.
Some conditions cause poor circulation, which may result in feeling cold, especially in the extremities like hands, fingers, feet and toes. Peripheral artery disease, diabetes and Raynaud's disease are just a few conditions that may result in poor circulation, per Harvard Medical School. Many conditions that cause poor circulation require medical treatment.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones, per the National Institutes of Health. Inadequate hormone production leads to slowed bodily processes, including metabolism. One of the many symptoms of hypothyroidism is regularly feeling cold. Hypothyroidism requires a medical diagnosis and treatment, including medication and/or surgery.
Low Body Weight
Low body weight is another potential reason why someone might feel cold on a regular basis. People with lower body weights have a lower basal metabolic rate, which may explain why they feel cold on a regular basis, per a 2017 study published in the Journal of Thermal Biology.
According to the NIH, iron-deficiency anemia is a condition where the body doesn't produce enough red blood cells due to inadequate iron. As a result, oxygen transport is negatively impacted, and those with anemia may feel tired, short of breath or cold. Iron-deficiency anemia can have multiple causes, so a medical diagnosis is required. Additionally, supplemental treatment is often required to ensure iron levels return to normal.
Best Foods and Drinks to Keep You Warm
What you eat and drink can help you warm up when you're cold. Choosing high-temperature foods or those that generate heat, like peppers, can help to up your body temperature. "When you're cold, your best bet to warm up is to seek out foods that are not only physically hot but also have warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cardamom," says Tori Martinet, M.S., RD, a culinary and intuitive-eating dietitian.
Reach for these foods the next time you're feeling cold.
Oatmeal is a fiber-rich whole grain that can be eaten hot or cold, though it's best to prepare oatmeal hot when you're looking for food to warm you up. "A hot breakfast in the morning is a nice way to warm up and wake up," says Ashley Kitchens, M.P.H., RDN, a plant-based dietitian and owner of Plant Centered Nutrition. "I recommend an oatmeal bowl with fresh fruit, or quinoa porridge with nuts and dried fruit."
Sipping on warm broth is an excellent way to help you warm up when you're feeling cold. The physical heat of the broth will warm your hands if sipping from a mug, and if you choose to add more spices to your broth, you're likely to get the extra boost of warmth from the spicy flavors.
Hot peppers are a good choice if you enjoy staying warm with spicy food. "If you can stand the heat, I recommend hot peppers, whether that's cayenne, Calabrian chili or gochugaru, as these agents of spice can help generate body heat," says Martinet. "These ingredients are so versatile you can use them in a lot of different dishes across varied cuisines, so you'll always be warm and never bored."
Soup or Curry
Warm soups and curries are similar to broth because they can offer both physical heat and heat from warming spices. "The foods I turn to most often for warming up are definitely soups and curries because you're consuming the spices whole rather than steeped and getting a super-cozy meal on the table at the same time," says Martinet. If you prefer to avoid spicy foods, stick to less spicy soups like Slow-Cooker Potato Soup, Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup or Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Kale.
Coffee or Tea
Hot beverages are a great way to help you warm up when you're feeling cold. Most often, a warm drink like coffee or tea is served in a mug, enabling you to stay in contact with the physical heat of the drink. This not only warms your hands but drinking coffee and tea can also offer additional warmth. "If I'm looking for a beverage to warm me up, I love homemade masala chai, or just adding some cinnamon to a cup of hot cocoa," says Martinet. Don't be afraid to get creative with the warm beverages you choose.
The Bottom Line
If you regularly feel cold without relief, discussing your symptoms with a doctor is best to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis. When turning to foods or drinks to help you stay warm, be sure to choose nutrient-dense choices that offer nourishment and warmth no matter the season.