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Study: Chronic extreme heat exposure negatively affects body



The new study revealed how extreme temperatures can have long-lasting negative effects on our bodies, down to the molecular level.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A new study showed chronic heat stress has damaging effects on our bodies, down to the molecular level. It revealed how extreme temperatures can have long-lasting negative effects on all of us, more than just our cardiovascular health. 

The first-of-its-kind research revealed how extreme heat can have damaging effects on our gut, liver and brain. The research published out of UC Irvine showed how chronic exposure to high heat can result in an imbalance of the gut microbiome. 

Dr. Michael Hartman is a local expert on gut health and body physiology at Plexus Worldwide in Scottsdale. He said the imbalance signals the liver to release an inflammatory protein and that signals the brain, which changes neuroplasticity or how we learn and process new information. 

Typically we think of heat affecting mainly our cardiovascular health. This new research added how the long-lasting effects of heat on our bodies can change the balance of bacteria, fungi and viruses in our gut too. 

As we are exposed to higher temperatures over time, the result is an imbalance with more bad bacteria than good. That then affects how we digest, how we process nutrients in our diet and it’s all connected to the brain or how we store and process information. 

Hartman said they noticed the changes starting when temperatures were as low as 85 degrees outside. The Valley reaches temperatures much higher than that during the hottest months and Hartman shared tips for avoiding prolonged exposure to Arizona heat. 

“Prolonged exposure would be doing strenuous activities, out for a hike, out doing recreational sports, trying to avoid prolonged exposure to highest temperatures of the day,” Hartman said. “But If we have to be outside, making sure we take advantage of adequate hydration, trying to minimize excessive caffeine, excessive alcohol.”

The extra steps are to avoid dehydration. So even trying to avoid running errands during the hottest parts of the day can be beneficial.

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