Why Heat and Cold are Good For You

My journey into the fascinating world of heat therapy and cold thermogenesis

 

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Most of us have been conditioned to believe that the best temperature is the one that’s the most comfortable. But the latest science is revealing that we’ve got it all backwards. It turns out that our bodies thrive on extremes. Getting really hot and really cold actually makes us stronger, healthier, and happier.

My journey into this new world began by watching a documentary on Wim Hof, aka The Iceman. It’s entertaining if nothing else.

This inspired me to do more research on the health benefits of temperature extremes, which led me to Rhonda Patrick.

 

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To summarize some of the latest findings:

Heat therapy health benefits:

  • Increases your ability to use endorphins and feel less stressed
  • Increases your focus and attention
  • Increases BDNF for new neurons…helping you get smarter and remember better
  • Improves your athletic endurance
  • Increases your muscle growth
  • Detoxifies your body
  • Decreases your Alzheimer’s risk
  • Leads to longer life via the creation of more heat shock proteins
  • Increases your insulin sensitivity

Cold therapy health benefits:

  • Helps you feels less stressed and more relaxed
  • Reduces your insulin spikes by increasing insulin sensitivity; keeps your blood sugar levels low
  • Reduces inflammation and speeds workout recovery
  • Improves your athletic performance
  • Revs up your metabolism and burns your bad fat (white fat)
  • Releases dopamine, endorphins, and noradrenaline, making you feel much happier; fights depression
  • Gives you increased focus and energy, leading to greater productivity
  • Helps you live longer
  • Creates a stronger immune system, meaning you get sick less often
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Helps to protect your brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s

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At this point, I was in. But I knew I needed to ease into it. So I started by wearing the Cool Fat Burner vest for two hours every morning. Obviously, given the name, some people wear this thing for weight loss, but I wanted to get the cold thermogenesis health benefits. It definitely helped me transition into greater cold adaptation.

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Next up I began taking contrast showers. Experts have found that alternating between hot and cold make both more effective. One simple way to do so is by taking a shower at your normal temperature, then doing 10 rounds of 10 seconds hot and 20 seconds cold. I used an interval timer on my phone to cue the transitions and let me know when I was done.

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Then I began looking into infrared saunas. Ben Greenfield does a great breakdown on their health benefits, but they tend to be pretty expensive.

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So I began thinking about what I could do to get really hot, really fast, really affordably. I was already running, so I began wearing a sauna vest and sweatshirt, creating a kind of mobile sauna experience. I found a great sweatband too. Suddenly my runs became more than runs. I was becoming acclimated to the heat and reaping the huge health benefits.

Getting so hot made it easier for me to ditch my contrast showers and go straight into cold showers. I noticed an immediate improvement in my mood and energy levels throughout the day.

I no longer complain when I start getting hot or cold. Instead, I remember all the health benefits and embrace the extremes as my friends.

 

Making a Better Workspace

How to upgrade your standing, sitting, posture, eyesight, and environment. You’re welcome.

Your office should be a place that energizes you and helps you succeed. Here’s how to make it better:

Standing

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  • Use a treadmill desk or a standing desk. Some good options for the latter include the Varidesk, Ikea’s Skarsta, a simple bookshelf, or even this.
  • Try to move while standing. Some good options include the Fluidstance, a basic balance board, a Topo Mat, an Airex balance pad, or a fidget bar.
  • Opt for standing or walking meetings when possible.

Sitting

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  • Lotus is best (if you can swing it), followed by sitting cross-legged.
  • Alternatively, you can mix it up with one of these.

Posture

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  • Stand or sit with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and your head up.
  • Your monitor should be eye level and your keyboard should be elbow level. I use a monitor stand and basic bluetooth keyboard to achieve this.

Eyes

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  • Give your eyes a break every 20-25 minutes by looking out a window or focusing on something non-digital.
  • Run f.lux or something similar 24/7 to avoid overdosing on blue light.
  • Avoid fluorescent lighting and opt for natural and/or full spectrum led.

Environment

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  • Strive for a clean, uncluttered, welcoming work environment.
  • Fill your space with meaningful, inspirational quotes and images.
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones or something similar to help you focus. Some people like services such as brain.fm
  • Run a diffuser with essential oils like this if you work from home or your coworkers don’t mind.
  • Buy some plants to clean the air and creating a more natural vibe.
  • Open the windows for fresh air when possible.

Resources

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Golden Goji Berry Cherry Milk

Yeah, it’s a mouthful. But it’s delicious. And it will help you sleep better and be healthier. What’s not to love?

Here’s how it’s done:

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1. Bring 4 tablespoons coconut oil, 4 teaspoons of turmeric, 2 cups of water and 1 tsp ground black pepper  to a boil. Stir. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Let it cool to room temperature.

3. Pour mixture into blender. Add up to half a gallon of milk (I use raw) or kefir, 1/2 cup of concentrated tart cherry juice, 1 cup of goji berries, and 1 tablespoon of ceylon cinnamon.

4. Blend, pour into container, store in fridge, and clean up carefully – turmeric does stain. Will stay fresh for over a week.

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Notes:

  • I look forward to drinking a glass of this every evening.
  • The coconut oil, black pepper, and heat work synergistically to bring out the health benefits of turmeric.
  • You let it cool because the heat can kill the beneficial bacteria in the raw milk. If using pasteurized or coconut, you can skip the cooling and go straight to blending.
  • Tart cherry and goji berries are two of the highest natural sources of melatonin, which your body needs more of as you grow older. Milk contains peptides which help you sleep better.
  • I add a can of coconut milk to the mix for the added healthy fat. Native Forest is a good brand.
  • I use Aldi for my coconut oil. I use Frontier for my turmeric, black pepper, and cinnamon. I use my local farmer for my raw milk. I use Tart is Smart for my cherry concentrate, and Healthworks for my goji berries.

Enjoy!