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Are cold showers good for your immune system?

on Friday, 24 February 2017. Posted in News, Opas Blog, Health

Are cold showers good for your immune system?

Cold showers, yes! You may be wondering what’s so special about a cold shower? Oh, wait. Before I get into the benefits of a cold shower, I should explain how I came about this subject. 

Well, it all started a couple of years ago, in my early 20’s to be exact. We shared a household in Austria with my mum-in-law and although water is abundant, “warm” water was scarce. 

We have water boilers in Austria to heat up the water, kind of like here in the U.S. but the difference is, we have a limit of how much warm or hot water the boilers supply. For example, we had a 100 Liter water boiler at the time. 100 Liters is a lot of water, when you think about it. You don’t need 100 Liters of warm water to take a shower but if there is a larger household 3 people + including dishwashing and floor mopping, 100 L is not sufficient at all. In fact, there were many times when I prepared for a shower at night and was left with cold water. My mum-in-law loved using hot water and always forgot to reduce her use when we came back to Austria to visit. 

That led me to get used to taking cold showers. (Insert Smiley Face here) I was not that happy to greet cold water at night especially in the winter. With -1 C degrees outside, its the last thing you think of bathing with cold water. Curious, I wanted to know what temperature our water was. You won’t believe it, our water has an average of 8 degrees C. Time went by and I taking cold showers grew on me. I have taken so many cold showers, that it is no longer cold for me. Yes of course its cold, but it does not bother me or make me shiver. 

1. Cold showers create beautiful skin 

Cold water closes your pores, making your skin and hair more resistant to external influences such as heat and friction.

2. Cold showers strengthen the immune system

A Netherland study of 3000 willingly volunteers. One group was told to take a cold shower for 30 seconds, the second group for 60 seconds and the third group for 90 seconds. Lastly, the fourth group was told to take a hot shower. The results: 1/3 of group 1, 2, and 3 had less reportings of the flu and common cold and therefore had a stronger immune system.

3. Cold showers help with depression and mental health

Raise your hand if you would willingly jumps in a cold lake or take a cold shower? Not many of us, right? That’s just the point, facing fears and conditioning your brain to be okay with change. That first step, its literally just that. For some of us, it takes a while to overcome small challenges and adapt to new changes. Whenever you want to achieve something, you must be able to jump into cold water. Yes this can be painful and a little uncomfortable but it' so worth it. Psychologist have proved training your brain to master the small unpleasant situations in your life and this in return will change your entire life. Not enthusiastic? 

4. Cold showers help the body recover quicker after partaking in sports activities 

Ice baths are used often by athletes to present sore muscles after a hard workout and to shorten breaks between training sessions. If you don’t have a bathtub and access to pounds of ice, you can benefit just the same by taking a cold shower.

5. Cold showers helps reduce weight (thermogenesis)

Weight Loss with Shivering

Shivering turns on the so called brown fat. There are two kinds of fat in the body, Brown Fat Cells and White Fat Cells. Brown Fat Cells contain much mitochondria and help burn extra calories. White Fat Cells are fat cells that get stored in the body after the body receives too much energy. White Fat Cells have the ability to be turned into Brown Fat Cells.

When Brown Fat Cells get turned on by being in cold temperatures and shivering, they then directly produce energy in the brown adipose tissue. Those who are regularly exposed to cold climates automatically and easily produce heat. This means when the body is often trained to be in cold water or cold weather, it will take longer for the body to start to shiver. The reason, the metabolism is high and therefore has many brown fat cells that are supplying the body with heat. When the body does not have a sufficient amount of heat it will then start to shiver to make up for the lost warmth and to protect the organs.

What temperature does your body start burning fat?
Your body activates brown cells at 60 degrees. 

6. Cold showers reduces stress, improve sleep and give a small spike in testosterone

This is especially good news for the guys. Cold showering can increase testosterone levels. Testosterone helps with motivation and helping to have a more positive outlook, in return helps with depression. With an increase in self confidence, comes better sleep and reduced stress.

What happens when the body comes in contact with cold water?

The blood vessels start to narrow, allowing more blood to flow into the body and less into the arms, legs and skin. This is a smart mechanism the body takes on to protect the inner organs. Secondly, the body turns on its heat by allowing the muscles to shiver, this fast vibrating reaction releases 30% warmth into the body, the other 70% heat is loss. When you shiver, your body uses waste as energy. 

Other cold water activities to participate in include kneipping, walking barefoot in cold snow, rubbing snow on the body in the wintertime, swimming in a partial frozen lake, and ice baths.

How to start benefiting from cold showers?

According to experts, to allow your body to adjust without overcooling yourself, you should start with cold water on the feet. This method includes allowing cold water to run on the feet for 30 seconds and afterwards dry the feet well and directly put on socks. It’s important that you protect your body.

Second method:

Allow cold water to run on the feet for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of warm water. The warm water should be warm-hot not extremely hot. Follow the warm-hot water by cold water. Immediately after dry your feet and slip into warm socks. 

Third method:

If you are ready, apply cold water up to the calf areas. You may allow your body to get used to the cold water on the legs and work your way up towards the abdomen until you can fully shower with cold water. 

Dos and Donts

Do make sure to put warm clothes on after your cold shower. Preventing to do so in as a beginner can risk of getting a cold. 

Don’t shower your head or ears in cold water, this puts you at risk for a cold. If you are shampooing your hair with cold water, add cold water quickly to hair under 15 seconds to be exact immediately dry and or blow-dry your hair to prevent sickness from occurring.

Don’t shower everyday extremely in cold water if you are beginner, this can result in an inflamed bladder and sickness such as a cold.

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