An ice bath or shower: 5 benefits for your health
Something as simple as ice-cold water can give your health a huge boost. Iceman Wim Hof has even become world-famous for his ice baths. Which 5 health benefits this has exactly (and when you better leave it out of your mind) you can read here.
A good friend of mine suggested I take ice-cold showers to benefit my health when I recently suffered from the awful aftermath of a covid infection that completely ruined my energy, mood, and overall quality of life. I had lots of complaints like extreme tiredness, mucus coughing, sleeping problems because of this, hyperventilation, and feelings of anxiety and depression. And to be honest, what got me through this disaster was taking ice-cold showers! It really helped me to start my day when I was feeling so tired, and it motivated me to take my daily walks and do my household chores. It also uplifted my mood and energy during the day. Every day I tried to stand a little longer in the colder shower, and only after two weeks, I had already started feeling myself again! The coughing decreased, and I got almost my full energy back! I used to hate the cold, but it turned out to be a healing experience for me. And I will not quit this habit. I was already familiar with the benefits of cold showering and ice baths, but I hadn’t pushed myself to the limit before. Now I know better! Why has ice-cold water many benefits for your health? Read below the 5 most important benefits and try it yourself! But beware: an ice shower or bath is not for everyone. When it’s better to leave an ice bath out of your mind, you can read at the bottom of this article.
1. Cold suppresses inflammatory proteins
When we think of inflammation, we automatically think of a red, swollen, and painful area on the surface of the skin. However, there is also such a thing as low-grade inflammation. These are dormant inflammations in the body that undermine your health and immunity. These can be located anywhere in the body. Currently, low-grade inflammation is one of the major risk factors for the development of ADHD, diabetes, and burnout, among others. They are caused in part by lifestyle factors we are exposed to in our society today: stress, unhealthy and fatty foods, obesity, and lack of exercise. A cold shower increases the substance interleukin, which has an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, it increases the “natural killer cells” that have the natural function of killing diseased cells.
2. Cold strengthens your immune system
Experiencing extremely low temperatures can also strengthen your immune system. This is because your body produces more white blood cells, which increases immunity . You can already achieve this by taking a daily cold shower. Research by the AMC shows that this leads to 29% less sick leave. For this, you only need to stand under the cold shower for 30 seconds every day. That’s worth a try, right?
3. Cold makes you happy
For shivery types, this may sound unbelievable, but the cold really does make you happy. By stepping out of your comfort zone and surrendering to the cold, your happiness hormones get a big boost and, oddly enough, your body can even get warm. Cold stimulates the release of endorphins, which in turn inhibits the release of stress hormones. In addition, endorphins regulate the release of dopamine and serotonin, also known as happiness hormones. Norepinephrine also gets a boost, which makes us feel more cheerful, focused, and motivated. Cold showers also wake your body up, induing a higher stae of alertness. They stimulate you to take deeper breaths, increasing the level of CO2 throughout the body, helping you concentrate and to boost your energy. Cold showers thus keep you ready and focused throughout the day.
4. Cold keeps you young
Cold therapy increases glutathione in your body. This is one of the most powerful anti-aging substances. In addition, this substance helps strengthen your immune system and get rid of waste products.
5. Cold contributes to weight loss
In the human body, a distinction can be made between brown and white adipose tissue. Brown fat is considered a healthy fat because it converts the energy you take in from food into heat. Thus, this fat is needed to regulate body temperature in the body. White fat, on the other hand, does not convert energy, but only stores it. This type of adipose tissue is found mainly around the organs and behind the skin – the fat of the well-known beer belly. Although most people have a negative association with the word ‘body fat’, brown fat has a very nice property; thanks to brown fat we are able to burn the white unhealthy fat. And let it be just so that a cold shower or ice bath causes an increase in brown fat!
Do it yourself ice bath or shower
So cold therapy has great benefits. The good news is that you do not need an ice bath in your garden to benefit from it. A cold shower works just as well! For the first week, start with 15 seconds of cold showering. You can keep building this up to 30 seconds and 45 seconds. Beginners can save the neck and shoulders in the beginning; these are extra sensitive to cold. Try not to turn on the hot tap again afterward, it’s nice and refreshing when you get out of the shower with goosebumps. The trick? Let it wash over you, literally, and pay attention to your breathing. If you keep breathing properly, you can surrender to the cold much more easily.
When it’s best to leave an ice bath out of your mind
If you are dealing with a serious medical condition, I recommend that you consult a doctor before exposing yourself to ice-cold water. Do not take an ice bath in any case with:
- High blood pressure (in case of prescribed medication)
- Coronary artery disease (e.g., angina pectoris; stable angina)
- A history of serious health problems such as heart failure or stroke
This article was partially published at www.holistik.nl