…I guess I kind of set us up to talk about the pods anyway because cryotherapy, when they see it on the website, is probably talking about one of those pods that just is going to hit you for 5 minutes of super cold air and that’s going to be it. But generally, and I think like most effective other modalities, there are free, or at least relatively inexpensive, versions of all of these things. We don’t need to take it necessarily to the extreme.
Wim Hoff is kind of a wonderful example. He himself is really interesting because on a scientific perspective he’s kind of perfect. He has a twin brother. So as far as lab testing goes that’s perfect. His brother does not do any of the breathing methods or cold exposure that Wim does and he’s kind of a perfect side-by-side comparison. What I found is that Wim Hoff and his brother may actually have certain genetic propensities that they have more brown fat than the average person. Brown fat has more mitochondria in it and those mitochondria produce a lot of heat. So… brown fat specifically is used to heat the body. Children have large amounts of brown fat and the average adult, as It turns out, does not tend to have much. But it turns out that Wim Hoff and his brother seem to have a slightly more than the average amount… Not to detract from what they do, but I thought that was very interesting.
One of the benefits of regular cold exposure… it doesn’t have to be a cryo-pod or anything. It could be taking a dip in a cold pond. It could even be just not putting on that extra layer at home and being just a little colder than you would like to be. These moments of discomfort, whether it’s too hot or too cold can have wide ranging physiological impacts. We now know through quite a bit of placebo controlled trials we are able to produce more brown fat by just regularly being exposed to discomforting colder temperatures. It doesn’t have to be an ice bath in the backyard or a polar plunge, but this normal act of needing to thermo regulate is not something that the average modern person has been required to do for very long. Every time we leave the house we put on a jacket. Every time it gets to hot we put on the AC. Basic thermoregulation which was a huge part of our metabolism and physiology growing up, and a huge source of information about our environment and what our body and hydration should be doing, all of that has been basically thrown on the back burner because our bodies no longer have to do this and our capacity to do it has suffered quite extensively as well.
What we are really talking about is giving your body a stimulus that it doesn’t know how to adequately deal with and how your physiology needs to compensate to bring you back in homeostasis. When you are uncomfortably cold your body is getting a stimulus saying you’re not producing enough heat and this can take time to develop but your body is going to increase your metabolism… It’s going to convert the amount of white fat that you have into brown fat so it can create mitochondrial biogenesis, creating more mitochondria to fill in this brown fat. And these are real tangible physiological changes. So that discomfort is a signal you’re not suffering in vain… all of these changes are actually starting a cascade and domino effect that are leading to be more robust in the face of the coldness later.
You’re innate robustus… Your ability to tolerate discomfort in general improves when you let yourself live in that space more frequently.