I was talking to a sports therapist last weekend at the Expo centre. He uses cold therapy to reduce inflammation. Sounds pretty normal, right? This isn’t putting an ice pack on a small injury though. He will put you in a room and drop the temperature of that room to minus 160 degrees Celsius for one minute. Wow hey?
This is an example of hormesis. Hormesis is putting a stress on the body for a short duration then letting the body rest and recover. In hormesis what happens is the body will recover to be stronger than it was before. Another example of hormesis is exercise. Exercise is the stress that breaks down muscles and during the rest and relaxation is when the muscles grow bigger and stronger.
The forms of hormesis most recommended by PhD Ari Whitten are exercise, fasting, heat exposure and cold exposure. Cold exposure is known to reduce inflammation, but you want the inflammation after exercise because it is part of the stress that gets the results we want. You have to wait at least a few hours after exercise to do cold exposure.
On the other hand, Patrick Marleau plays hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs and he has an ice bath between each period. He takes off his hockey equipment and hops in the bath and then gets his equipment back on in time for the next period. The ice bath kills the inflammation instantly. He says he feels fresh and ready to go every period.
One of the things that hormesis will do is it will build up the mitochondria in our cells. The mitochondria are the organelles that are responsible for energy production. When you’re exposed to cold your mitochondria will produce energy in the form of heat. With most hormesis including cold exposure and exercise you will build more mitochondria.
Heat exposure causes vasodilation. This can be dangerous for those with a heart condition. Consult your doctor first. Cold exposure causes vasoconstriction. Not quite as dangerous but you might still want to consult your doctor first. Fasting causes autophagy which is the natural cell death of the weak cells and new cells take over. The same thing happens with mitochondria. The automatic mitochondrial death is called mitophagy; they get replaced with new healthy mitochondria. A Ketogenic diet is a form of fasting.
Hormesis is a normal body function. The problem occurs when we aren’t exposing ourselves to these different stresses. We like to be comfortable, so we get a relaxing office job where we sit all day. We avoid the cold like the plague. We never go hungry. When’s the last time you held your breath? Hypoxia is another form of hormesis.
When we get comfortable and stop moving health issues start up. Insulin resistance begins within a few hours of sitting. Other disease and health issues occur when we get comfortable and stop the hormesis processes. It is vital to stay alive to expose ourselves to different stresses on a regular basis. We become very weak in many ways and become vulnerable to disease and death. Our bodies were built to move and overcome stress. Stay active my friends.
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