20 benefits of Cold thermogenesis
The idea we are inherently brought up with that getting cold will make us sick is wide spread across almost every nation of the globe, it is told to us when we are young and we repeat it to each other when we are grown. This notion of getting ill if you become cold actually has very little to no scientific evidence to support it, in fact it’s the opposite. Getting cold every now and then or cold thermogenesis as it’s officially known is shown in improve immune function, reduce body fat, increase receptor sensitivity of key hormones and increase mood to list a few of the potent effects it has on health. Many athletes also use this therapy to improve performance, its rumoured Michael Phelps swims in a pool kept at 55 degrees f/12 degrees c to improve body temperature regulation and energy metabolism during training. He isn’t the only one rumoured to use these measures and more athletes are coming out to share the benefits of this technique too.
Many may get confused between what many athletes do with ice baths after training or an intense game with cold thermogenesis, now while they are basically identical first the timing does make a big difference and second it doesn’t need to be as extreme as a tub of ice to get the benefits. Jumping in an ice bath after intense activity will give you the benefits that cold thermogenesis does but it also can restrict blood flow into your peripheral tissues, this in my book is not optimum for recovery and may hinder healing, you will get better results post activity with a hot to cold to hot switch. This will pump blood from deep to superficial blood vessels aiding recovery.
Cold thermogenesis can be as subtle as putting your face into Ice water for as long as you can hold your breath or turning your shower down as cold as you can handle at the end of your shower or even jumping straight in to a bath of cold water, no ice is really needed except for the first example. You can also go swimming under ice in frozen lakes but that is a whole other story and I’d refer to that as deep thermogenesis.
The real key to cold thermogenesis is to cool your skin down to 55F/12C the receptors on your skin will then send a message to your brain to start a cascade of hormonal changes and after 2 weeks of continuous stimulus then your brain will think its winter and start to open up this ancient pathway to keep us warm and healthy during the winter, just like it used to when we had to survive much harsh and colder climates.
- Fat loss – Colling the skin to 55F/12C causes the body to convert white fat to brown and burn it as free heat.
- Fat cell suicide – The leptin released and the IGF-1 hormone together cause unused fat cells to commit programed cell death (apoptosis).
- Increase Leptin sensitivity – Burning fat as free heat releases the leptin from the fat cells and cooling the body decreases triglycerides in the blood stream which allows greater access to leptin to cross the blood brain barrier to bind with the hypothalamus.
- Insulin sensitivity – Cold thermogenesis increases insulin sensitivity and decreases blood glucose levels by creating small tremors in the muscle to create heat.
- Improved immune function – Cold thermogenesis causes a release of aMSH and ACTH which together boost immune function and a sense of well being
- Slows cellular aging – Cold will physically slow the chemical processes in the cell therefore slowing the aging process. It will also improve energy metabolism allowing more healing and recovery then damage to occur.
- Decreases free radicles – Burning fat as heat causes no free radicles
- Improved mood – aMSH and ACTH are released causing an increased sense of well-being.
- Increase energy – Both the slowing of the metabolic process in a cell and the increased speed of the electron chain transport will improve energy.
- Improved cognition – Improved energy, mood and the cooling of the blood stream will all aid cognition.
- Increased vascularity – VEGF is released during cold thermogenesis and is key in creating new blood vessels especially in the peripheral areas.
- Improved water density – Water increases in density up to 4 degrees C, this denser water holds a better electrical charge and therefore increases energy production and communication.
- Decreased hunger – Leptin is the satiety hormone, the more that binds with the hypothalamus the less hungry we feel.
- Reduces carbohydrate cravings – Carbohydrate cravings are partially caused by VIP & NPY two neurotransmitters, these are both inhibited by eNOS which is the substance responsible for activating this cold adapted pathway.
- Burns excess kcal as free heat – All excess kcal is stored as fat and burnt as free heat if surplus to the bodies needs once the body is in the cold adapted pathway.
- Improves Thyroid function – Cold thermogenesis causes the brain to release TSH which improves thyroid function.
- Increases the bodies efficiency in absorbing light – Cold and wet surfaces absorb light and transmit electrons at much high efficiency.
- Boosts mitochondrial function – The water around the respiratory proteins gets denser, hence shrinks and brings the respiratory proteins closer together improving electron chain transport.
- Improve resilience to cold weather – Being cold adapted increases the amount of heat you will produce in cold weather and increase your tolerance for cold.
- Improves sleep – Improvements in circadian rhythm, energy, hormones and leptin sensitivity all aid in improving sleep.