What is Cold Thermogenesis?

When you hear the description of cold thermogenesis it just sounds like torture! So what is it and more importantly does it work?

Cold thermogenesis is the immersion of your body or body parts in a cold environment, usually in water, often known as ice baths.

There are numerous different protocols, some involve wearing special clothing, while with others you simply jump in a cold river or ocean.

The benefits of the practice include increased fat burning, better sleep quality, improved hormonal status and increased immune system function.

So how does it work? Well firstly it increases your amount of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT). Brown fat (BAT)is coloured the way it it due to its high number of mitochondria and it is very good at burning normal fat stores for energy and this is increased when exposed to cold. Your muscles also produce heat when you’re cold and this is reflected in the shivering response that is commonly seen when we are cold. Both of these mechanisms increase the number of calories burned and can help raise your metabolism and also with weight loss.

Studies have shown that through exposure to cold, your body produces more adinopectin which is a hormone that that when low is associated with diabetes, heart disease and obesity. So it is beneficial to keep levels of this hormone up. Other studies have shown that glucose uptake increased 12 fold when exposed to cold temperatures. This can help burn calories but it also helps control blood sugar and insulin levels. Cold exposure increases another hormone in the body – norepinephrine.

This is a stress hormone (most of us get stressed when we’re dunked in freezing cold water) that is associated with improved mood and also it is anti inflammatory. It vasoconstricts your blood vessels when exposed to cold which strengthens the smooth muscles and this can improve the ability of your circulatory system. It increases mitochondrial biogenesis which as we’ve looked at, boosts your metabolism.

Cols Shock Proteins are also produced during cold thermogenesis. This can cause massive regeneration of your cells particularly the neurons in your brain, which can also cause a hugeboost in how you feel along with slowing down the process of neurological decline.

In a similar way to intermittent fasting, cold thermogenesis, helps activate mTor genetic pathway which is key to longevity. Inhibition of this pathway can cause cell autophagy (programmed death) which can help the body rid itself of dead cells and debris which all aid in longer life.

The immune system is another part of the body which benefits from cold thermogenesis. Exposure to cold has been shown to improve Natural Killer (NK) cells along with other white blood cells to heighten immune response. There is anecdotal evidence that shows that “Winter Swimmers” never get sick or show symptoms of cold and flu.

Cold therapy also increases the body’s natural production of antioxidants particularly glutathione reductase and superoxide dismutase which are powerful weapons in the fight against free radicals which can damage your cells. These naturally made antioxidants are way more powerful than antioxidant pills you can take.

Take Care of Your Mitochondria

The number and quality of your mitochondria will go a long way in predicting your future health and fitness. But what are these things they call mitochondria and why are they so important?

In this short article I aim to answer both those questions and also give you some tips on how you can improve your healthspan by taking proper care of your mitochondria. According to this website mitochondria are…

The “powerhouses of the cell”, that’s how many people know mitochondria. The parts of cells that turn sugars, fats and proteins that we eat, into forms of chemical energy that the body can use to carry on living.

Every living thing is made of cells: tiny compartments contained by a membrane. Cells are the smallest things that can reproduce themselves. When we look inside cells, we see that they have sub-compartments that are smaller still, known as “Organelles” which perform different functions that are essential for the cell to live.

Mitochondria are organelles found in the cells of every complex organism.  They produce about 90% of the chemical energy that cells need to survive. No energy; no life! So it’s easy to see why when mitochondria go wrong, serious diseases are the result, and why it is important we understand how mitochondria work.

However, mitochondria do much more than just produce energy. They also produce chemicals that your body needs for other purposes, break down waste products so they’re less harmful, and recycle some of those waste products to save energy.

health saladMitochondrial health has been implicated in many degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. In fact esteemed natural health physician, Dr Joseph Mercola writes on his blog:

If you’re interested in reducing your rate of chronic disease and aging, you’re interested in optimizing your mitochondrial health. In addition to the dietary changes described above, exercise, including near-continuous movement throughout your day (and avoiding prolonged sitting) is also important.

When you exercise, your body will respond by creating more mitochondria (mitochondrial biogenesis) to keep up with the heightened energy requirement. Exercise also stimulates autophagy, helping to remove damaged mitochondria. In short, exercise helps to not only optimize mitochondrial function, but also increase mitochondrial numbers.

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/05/01/mitochondria-power-grid.aspx

So what can you do to improve the health of your mitochondria? Well, as you’ve just read, exercise is the most common way to improve the quantity and quality of your mitochondria. Both aerobic exercise and HIIT exercise have been shown to improve mitochondrial biogenesis. There are also foods and supplements that help your mitochondria. These include B Vitamins, magnesium and Co Q10. While you can get all of these in food (and I recommend you do) they can alos be acquired through a high quality multi vitamin and mineral supplement.

Other ways to improve your mitochondrial health include heat and cold stress. Heat stress can come from saunas, particularly infrared saunas which heat the body and help you to detoxify toxins from your body. Cold immersion is the best way to create cold stress and can be done by showering in cold water or swimming in the sea or a river (in the Uk). These techniques have been shown to improve the health and function of your mitochondria.

Why Hypertension is Bad For You

If you’re interested in learning more about why high blood pressure is bad for you, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’m going to highlight some of the negative effects that can occur when your blood pressure becomes higher than it should, so you will understand why this is a troubling condition that you should address straight away if you are diagnosed with it.

First of all, high blood pressure is also known as hypertension. It’s worth noting that the condition will often have no obvious symptoms at first, and this can continue for quite some time. However, this does not mean that it is not causing damage to your body. In fact, it can be a highly dangerous condition if it is left untreated for a long period of time.

In some cases, people may begin to experience dizziness which can lead to a loss of coordination, although this does not always happen with everybody who suffers from hypertension.

One of the biggest problems with high blood pressure is the damage it can cause to your arteries. In general, your arteries need to be strong and flexible, but high blood pressure can cause the narrowing and tightening of your arteries which can cause a whole host of problems and can even lead to a life-threatening aneurysm for some people.

Furthermore, high blood pressure has a significant impact on your heart health, leading to coronary artery disease, an enlarged heart, and even heart failure if you subject yourself to high levels of stress.

You may be aware of various brain-related problems that high blood pressure can pose, and studies have shown that high blood pressure can lead to strokes, dementia, or even simple cognitive impairment.

Another common problem that people with high blood pressure face is damage to their kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure in the worst cases, as well as milder, yet still troublesome issue that can cause scarring or kidney related aneurysms.

When it comes to your eyes, hypertension can have several unwanted effects that can quickly impair the quality of your vision. For example, nerve damage to the optical nerve can be disastrous, leading to bleeding on the eye and eventually blindness. What’s more, high blood pressure can also cause fluid to build up around your retinas, and this can lead to blurred vision or even vision loss, particularly if the condition is associated with diabetes.

In some circumstances, high blood pressure can lead to emergency situations that will require immediate medical attention, such as heart attacks, strokes, sudden loss of kidney function, and even cognitive issues such as memory loss. Regular exercise can help lower blood pressure but when this doesn’t work long term medication is required.

In conclusion, it is clear to see that high blood pressure can pose a variety of unwanted and potentially life-threatening health conditions, so if you have been diagnosed with hypertension, it’s certainly a good idea to get the issue under control as quickly as possible.

What Does The Length of Your Telomeres Tell You?

The length of your telomeres can shed light on many things related to your longevity. But what are telomeres and why are they so important?

Telomeres are the caps on the end of our DNA, a little like the plastic tips on the end of shoelaces. Our DNA contains our genetic material and each time a cell replicates our DNA is copied over to the new cell. As our telomeres shorten this impacts how successfully our DNA is transcribed and therefore how quickly our cells age. The cells reach a point where they are unable to carry on replicating properly, known as the Hayflick Limit, and they become senescent. A vital enzyme called telomerase is involved in maintaining the length of your telomeres, to stop them wearing out as fast. Amazing discoveries have been made over the past couple of decades about different ways you can increase your telomerase levels. These include different types of meditation, certain types of diets and exercise. In this article we’re going to focus on the exercise portion and look at the best ways you can maintain your telomere health.

regular exerciseNumerous studies have shown how shortened telomeres have been linked with accelerated cellular aging. In fact, one study from Belgium showed that moderate intensity physical exercsie (45 mins on a stationery bike) was enough to increase the levels of a molecule (nuclear respiratory factor 1) that protects the length of the subjects telomeres. Interestingly enough this factor is also associated with starvation and may go some way to explaining why fasting or lowering caloric intake has been associated with increased longevity.

Another study out of the US showed that people that did the most amount of exercise (30 -40 minutes at least 5 times per week) had the longest telomeres and that there was little difference in telomere length between sedentary individuals and those who performed moderate amounts of exercise. The authors quoted a difference of around 9 years in telomer length between the most active individuals and the most sedentary. The authors believed that the benefits of high levels of exercise protecting telomere length may be to to anti-inflammatory effect and reduction in oxidative stress. Although they concluded that more research was needed to prove this theory.

Another study used High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to illicit improvements in the levels of the enzyme telomerase and also telomere length as well. Strength training didn’t seem to have any effect on telomere legth in this study.

After reviewing the various studies on physical activity and telomere length, it appears that moderate to high intensity exercise done regularly (3-5 times a week) has been shown to improve the length of your telomeres. This would also indicate that these levels of exercise will be enough to slow down cellular aging and therefore extend your life.

 

 

The Benefits of Stretching

Stretching is a very misunderstood activity and if it is done at all it is performed very poorly – mainly as an after thought. The benefits of stretching are varied and include prevention of injury, reduction of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and lymph return. Stretching can also help your posture which will generally reduce and back or neck pain that you#re experiencing.

There are different types of stretches and they all have their benefits. If you want to stretch in preparation for exercise or sport then dynamic or ballistic stretching is best. This is where you move in and out of stretched positions in a controlled manner in order to prepare the connective tissue (muscles and ligaments) for the activity ahead. Whilst it must always be controlled ballistic stretching can be quite vigorous and used as part of a larger warm up phase. You will see professional sports players perfoming these drills on the side of the pitch when they prepare to come on. What you don’t see is the 30-40 minutes all of the team spend doing these drills ahead of the game!

Static stretching is a slower form of stretching, that is often included in a cool down or post exercise section. This is where the muscles are taken to their maximal stretched position and held for periods of time from 15-60 seconds. The aim here is to restore the muscle length to its former range and reduce muscle soreness post exercise. This type of stretching can also be done separate from an exercise session in order to improve general flexibility and range of motion. For example, gymnasts and martial artists, may perform 30-40 minutes of static stretching every day of the week in order to keep themselves supple enough to perform well in their sports.

stretching routineAside from sports, static stretching can also be used to help improve your posture and relieve back and neck pain. As a society we spend most of our day seated at a desk or in front of a screen of some sort. This leads to a forward head posture with very rounded shoulders. Not only does this not look particularly attractive it can be one of the main contributors of both low back pain and neck pain. By merely stretching the muscles that become shortened and tightened in this position, namely your pecs and sternocleidomastoid (neck) muscles, you’ll help reverse the poor posture and relieve any aches and pains that result from it.

As you have seen from this short post, stretching is very important for a number of reasons. I recommend you invest the time in finding a strech routine that is beneficial to you and adhere to a set number of stretch sessions per week.

Get More From Your Running

runningMany people love to run but find it very laborious. Unless I have a specific goal in mind like training for an upcoming football season or looking forward to a trekking holiday in the Himalayas I find it very hard to motivate myself to just go out for a run.

What I find helps is having a running buddy or training partner. This keeps you accountable and also adds a social aspect to the session. You can also push each other to improve your running times by adding a bit of healthy competition into the mix. There are various running clubs and groups all across the country so if you’re not able to find your own running buddy go online and find your nearest running club- they are often free!

A great way to keep you motivated throughout a running programme is to vary things up. Not only can you change distances and terrain but you can switch from indoor runs on a treadmill to cross country runs in the park.

You can also change the types of running you do. Instead of just staedy state distance running you could try interval training or Fartlek runs. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions have become very popular recently and can be used to spice up a running programme.