Being cold is intense; for many people this is way out of their comfort zone. We the people thrive when the going gets tough. At such times, you learn about your physiology and mindset. There is now enough scientific evidence available that prove that extreme temperatures extend your lifespan.
Not too hot, not too cold, we are happiest when we are somewhere in the middle. You would think that a pleasant temperature is the best way to stay healthy. However, new research shows that extreme cold and extreme heat force your body to upgrade its defences.
The influence of cold on the man
Cold, evolutionarily speaking, has always been a determinant of health. There have been ice ages when life was barely possible on Earth.
Over the past centuries, winter returned to the country every year. Several months a year, the temperature of the water and outdoor air therefore dropped sharply. Survival and reproduction have always been the 2 necessities of homo sapiens has been.
Cold is a form of Hormese
First of all, make distinction between acute stress (short, one-off stress) and chronic stress (ongoing, continuous stress due to work pressure, bad relationships, poor sleep or financial stress). The latter is disastrous for health.
Hormetic stressors, on the other hand, are controlled, acute stressors that trigger a healthy response that is adaptive in nature, i.e. it allows you to come back stronger the next time you face that stressor. But it is more than just acute versus chronic, because the dose is also important. Think of something like oxygen: in the right amounts, it sustains life, but if it increases too much, it becomes harmful!
In real life, hormesis is what things like intermittent fasting, exposure to cold, exposure to heat and exercise have in common. A prolonged dose of any of these things is detrimental (intermittent fasting for too long and you starve, for example!). But in short bursts you are knocked out of your comfort zone of balance (homeostasis), and activate signalling pathways that promote stress resistance, cell and DNA repair, reduced inflammation, enhanced detoxification and improved blood sugar regulation. In fact, research in 2020 suggests that the absence of acute stressors prevents your body's ability to slow ageing.
Release of energy
When exposed to cold, the body produces extra energy to maintain core temperature. Firstly, through the sympathetic nervous system, it releases (an acute stress reaction) additional energy is released on top of the glucose and free fatty acids already present in the bloodstream. This energy can be released via mitochondria (energy factories producing heat up to 60%) are converted into heat.
This is also called non shivering thermogenesis. Adipose tissue has an important part to play here by producing watokines (=white fat) and batokines (=brown fat). When the heat produced is insufficient or the cold stimulus is too intense, the nervous system also appeals to the muscles to produce heat. This often causes you to tremble uncontrollably (=muscle contractions to produce heat).
Feel more energetic, happy and cheerful
There will be strong vasodilation (= dilating blood vessels) take place AFTER a cold stimulus has taken place. During a cold stimulus, you will feel that your hands and feet in particular receive little warm blood (This is due to vasoconstriction = narrowing of blood vessels, in the limbs).
Why is this I hear you ask? Because all the warm blood is kept in the core of the body AND the brain.
The immune system undergoes modifications to an anti inflammatory system, making the immune system less compelled to inflame. This is partly due to the production of immune cells (cytokines such as interleukin 4 and 10). These immune cells cause the fat cells to divide, preventing them from inflaming EN. increase insulin sensitivity of adipose tissue.
Taking a cold bath yourself? Take part in a workshop, stand in your own power and experience the wonders of this stimulus!
Exposure to cold forces the body to reduce the microscopic recovery systems start up, reducing the risk of disease and making us live years longer.
We won't lie about it, your body will be startled in the cold water. Cold water triggers very powerful survival mechanisms.
Our body initially experiences a gasp reflex (kind of hyperventilation). It gasps for breath that way, which is normal. This is self-preservation. We keep that hyperventilation under control and don't let it get the better of us.
Scientists confirm that if you can control your body's reaction to the cold, it is hugely beneficial to your health.
As we age, our built-in immune system tends to fail a little more often. Through the body's blood vessels, an unwanted flow of immune cells can cause collateral damage and do more harm than good. The resulting breakdown in tissues and organs is called "inflammaging". It feeds the two biggest killers in the modern world being heart disease and diabetes.
Learning to reduce our response to the cold helps reset the detached immune system and reduce the risk of disease
Where are main advantages of cold?
The biggest benefits lie in repeated exposure. This way, you train your own body to handle cold more easily and efficiently. This decreases the intensity of the stimulus to your nervous system and increases your comfort zone. Your body's homeostasis (balance) is less violently disturbed, which will help you function better in stressful situations.
THE BENEFITS IN A ROW
Cold has the evolutionary pressure set high for man
With intelligence and ingenuity, humans have survived 100,000'e years. This through, for example, recycling animal skins, making fire, building shelters, the physiology of their own bodies and the bodies of others.
Did you fail to keep yourself warm? Then health was severely compromised resulting in death! Those who did not survive failed to pass on their genes to the next generation. Thus, cold put evolutionary pressure on humans.
Our health is partly dependent of cold
Because cold has always been present, it has helped shape our amazing bodies and brains. Our health has literally become dependent on this and other "recognisable" primal stressors such as hunger, thirst, heat and exercise, for example.
How will you yourself with cold therapy to work?
Start by taking a cold shower for 30 seconds, ideally in the morning. Cold means "I can tolerate it but it is NOT pleasant. Do you like this? Then gradually build this up by 30 seconds every 3 days. Once you tolerate 2 minutes you can also take your head under the cold with you, this will literally scare your brain. One step further, get accompanied in an ice bath or join a club of polar bears.
Above all, also remember that like everything else, too much is also not good, so don't take a cold shower or bath EVERY day, as it too loses its positive effects that way.
The story of Johanna Nordblad
Johanna Nordblad shattered her leg in a cycling accident. Her fractures healed but the pain remained. Her bones seemed to be on fire, she could not sleep, her leg had been hurting for more than 3 years.
She tried everything, regular medicines did not help. Doctors recommended a new treatment to her, based on the theory that cold water disrupts pain signals before they reach your brain. When she put her leg in the cold water after the accident, the pain effectively disappeared.
Johanna got her life back. She is now active as a freediver in icy lakes where she not only learned to deal with the cold but she also learned to embrace it. " through the treatment I was no longer afraid of the cold, if you stay calm, you can stay in it longer, it does more than relieve pain, swimming in cold water makes you less likely to get sick. I feel healthier and full of energy"
Read more about her story via this link
EMBRACE THE COLD BACK INTO YOUR LIFE & ENERGY WILL COME ALONG.
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