This section is from the book "The Human Body: An Elementary Text-Book Of Anatomy, Physiology, And Hygiene", by H. Newell Martin. Also available from Amazon: The Human Body.
To this question, also, the answer is no, though this may seem strange in view of the fact that a drink is often taken " to warm one up." The apparent inconsistency is easily explained. Our feeling of being warm depends on the nerves of the skin (p. 376). We have no nerves which tell us whether heart or muscles or brain are warmer or cooler. These inside parts are always hotter than the skin, and if blood which has been made hot in them flows in large quantity to the skin, we feel warmer because the skin is heated. As alcoholic drinks make more blood flow through the skin, they often make a man feel warmer. But their actual effect upon the temperature of the whole body is to lower it. The more blood that flows through the skin, the more heat is given off from the body to the air, and the more blood, so cooled, is sent back to the internal organs. The consequence is that alcohol, in proportion to the amount taken, cools the body as a whole, though it may for a short time heat the skin. That a large dose of alcohol leads to excessive loss of heat from the body has been proved by many observations on drunken men, and by experiments on the lower animals.
What is said of alcohol as a tissue-forming food?
Is alcohol a strengthening food? How may it lead to overwork? Results? What were the results of experiments made on soldiers as to the action of alcohol on the muscles?
Does alcohol maintain the heat of the body? Why does a drink sometimes make a person feel warmer?
The study of alcohol as an article of diet leads therefore to the result that it cannot fairly be regarded as a food.
Tea, Coffee, and Cocoa are excitants rather than nutritive foods. The amount of nourishment in a cup of either is but little. Some persons experience wakefulness or a feeling of fulness in the head after taking coffee, and such should of course avoid it. Sportsmen out for a long day's shooting find cold tea superior to spirits; [military commanders find a ration of coffee far better than one of whiskey for fatigued troops, and all arctic explorers have come to a similar conclusion.
How is it that alcohol sometimes makes a person feel warmer? How does it cool the body?
To what class of foods do tea and coffee belong? What results do they produce? Why are they better than alcohol for similar purposes? Give illustrations of the influence of tea and coffee in removing the sensation of fatigue.