There’s been a lot of talk 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 bath (based on Louis Kuhne’s friction sitz bath) are popular with athletes and health seekers, and may benefit equally to practically everyone else.
A long list of benefits is attributed to regular exposure to cold water. They include:
• Reduces inflammation
• Detox triggers
• Decreases excess white body fat
• Stimulates the immune system
• It enhances sleep quality
• Increases sexual performance and improves fertility.
• Increases pain tolerance threshold
• Improves hormone production
• Reduce food cravings
• Decreases uric acid levels
• Increases glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in the body. (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’s focus exclusively on the fat loss, detoxification and recovery benefits attributed to regularly applying cold temperatures to the body, in the form of cold showers, plunging into a cold pool after a sauna, practicing Louis Kuhne’s . Detox bath or using cold gel packs.
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 collarbone, neck, shoulders, and upper back. A unique type of fat, it heats up by burning the regular white fat that is deposited on the stomach, hips, and buttocks and legs. Brown fat burns energy instead of storing it. Studies have shown that you can actually activate brown fat – to burn white fat – by cooling your body.
2- Detoxification: Toxins are known to nest in dense white blood cells. When brown fat is activated by exposure to cold, it dissolves white fat and, consequently, detoxifies the body.
3- Improvement of 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 the count and activity of natural killer cells, which can greatly enhance the function of the immune system.
4- Hardening: Exposure to a natural stimulus, such as cold, is called “hardening.” It is known to increase the body’s tolerance for stress and illness. “The underlying premise of cold water therapy is that briefly and regularly exposing the body to certain types of natural stress can improve health.” (Mark’s daily apple)
5- Drink cold water accelerates the metabolic rate, because the body has to work to heat the water. However, other types of cold or ice therapy, such as gel cold packs applied to the groin area, can also help support your body’s detoxification and fat-burning ability.
6- Exercise and injury recovery By reducing the temperature of the tissues and constricting the blood vessels in the target area, the cold numbs it and prevents swelling. That’s why ice packs are often used after an injury, to help minimize bruising and swelling due to fluid build-up, and to relieve pain.
Cold baths and cold gel packs have been shown to be more effective than rest in relieving the typical muscle soreness that occurs after exercise.
What is the easiest way to cool the body and achieve 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 icy.
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.