Much has been made lately about the benefits of cold water therapy for fat loss, detoxification, and recovery. “Cryotherapy”, o Cold water immersion, cold showers, cold gel packs, and cold water detox bathing (based on Louis Kuhne’s friction sitz bath) are popular with athletes and health seekers, and can equally benefit virtually everyone else.
A long list of benefits is attributed to regular exposure to cold water. They include:
• Reduces inflammation
• Detox Activators
• Decreases excess white body fat
• Strengthens the immune system
• It enhances sleep quality
• Increases sexual performance and improves fertility
• Increases the pain tolerance threshold
• Improves the production of hormones
• Reduces food cravings
• Decreases uric acid levels
• Increases glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant. (Dr J Mercola)
Of course, these benefits vary from person to person. This method does NOT provide all of the above benefits to everyone equally.
For the purposes of this article, let us focus exclusively on the fat loss, detoxification and recovery benefits attributed to the regular application of cold temperatures to the body, in the form of cold showers, soaking in a cold pool after a sauna, practicing Louis Kuhne. Detox bath or using cold gel compresses.
So how does cold exposure contribute to fat loss, detoxification and recovery?
1- Activation of brown fat: BAT or brown adipose tissue is brown fat that is abundant in the body in childhood and decreases in adulthood. It is found mainly around the clavicle, neck, shoulders, and upper back. A unique type of fat, it generates heat by burning regular white fat that is deposited on the stomach, hips, and buttock and leg areas. Brown fat burns energy instead of storing it. Studies have shown that you can actually activate brown fat, to burn white fat, cooling your body.
2- Detox: Toxins are known to nestle in the dense white fat cells. When, by exposure to cold, you activate brown fat, it dissolves white fat and, consequently, detoxifies the body.
3- Improve the Immune System: Cold therapy improves immunity by increasing the number of immune system cells that fight disease and infection. Due to its ability to stimulate the release of norepinephrine, exposure to cold can induce an increase in natural killer cell count and activity, which can greatly improve immune system function.
4- Hardening: Exposure to a natural stimulus, such as cold, is called “hardening.” It is known to increase the body’s tolerance to stress and disease. “The underlying premise of cold water therapy is that brief, regular exposure of the body to certain types of natural stress can improve health.” (Mark’s Daily Apple)
5- drink cold water speeds up the metabolic rate, because the body has to work to heat the water. However, other types of cold or ice therapy, such as cold gel packs applied to the snout area, can also help support your body’s detoxification and fat burning abilities.
6- Exercise and injury recovery By lowering the temperature of the tissues and constricting the blood vessels in the target area, the cold numbs them and prevents swelling. That’s why ice packs are often used after an injury, to help minimize bruising and swelling from fluid buildup, and to relieve pain.
Cold baths and cold gel packs have been shown to be more effective than rest in relieving typical muscle soreness that occurs after exercise.
What is the easiest way to cool down the body and get the benefits of cold exposure?
You can take a cold shower or drink cold water, or even sit waist-deep in a tub of cold water for 10 minutes, 3 times a week. The water should be cold but not ice cold.
However, the easiest, least invasive and most comfortable way to cool the body and achieve the benefits listed above remains the regular use of cold gel packs, which are particularly effective when applied to the groin area.