Taking a dip in cold water
As part of some of my strategies to get through quarantine positively, I decided to take advantage of the lake near my house and take a dip in the cold water, early in the morning as there wasn’t anyone around. It seemed like the perfect time to do so!
The lockdown hasn’t made me lose my mind if that’s what you’re thinking! The truth is that bathing in cold water has so many benefits for the immune system. It’s something I’ve been doing at the gym for a couple of years, and I love it!
As I started researching natural ways to strengthen my immune system in the wake of the terrible allergies I suffered from a few years back, I discovered biohacking. Biohacking is a series of practices for managing your body biology, including medical and nutritional techniques to expand your physical and mental capabilities?
Among the biohacking techniques that I’ve learned, bathing with cold water is one of them. I first heard about this from one of my fermentation workshop students a few years ago. He is a biohacker! As for this technique, it is necessary to know that the water must be below 21ºC. People even swim in almost frozen water.
Benefits of bathing in cold water:
- It clears the mind and body, activating your ability to concentrate and facilitating the recovery of energy in the body.
- It helps to cleanse and eliminate impurities because it generates a greater circulation of red blood cells, which in turn, carry a greater amount of white blood cells, which act as a defense mechanism of the body.
- It produces a response from the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the respiratory system.
- When after the dip comes calm and deep breathing, you will feel a physical and mental balance that extends throughout the day.
- It stimulates the production of a hormone called noradrenaline, which is directly related to the states of alertness and wakefulness, sleep regulation, level of consciousness, motivation, learning, and mood, among other functions.
- It improves your physical performance.
These benefits make therapeutic cold water bathing increasingly common, through methods of hydrotherapy that may include, in addition to cold showers, baths, whirlpool baths, jacuzzis, or pool exercise programs.
To start with this method, you should take into account that if you are used to showering with warm or hot water, it is better to try to adapt little by little, over at least 2 weeks, until you can tolerate the temperature of the water.
As time passes, your body will get used to it and you can increase the length and number of cold showers you take per week.
The Wim Hof Method: health in cold water
One of the most famous biohackers is Wim Hof, a Dutchman who is nicknamed The Iceman because of his ability to withstand extremely low temperatures. Wim Hof has developed a method with which he can control his autonomic nervous system and his body’s immune response. His method has allowed him to be immersed in cold water for hours without his body temperature changing, or to run a marathon in the desert without drinking water. This has aroused interest in the scientific world.
What is the Wim Hof Method?
The Wim Hof Method combines specific breathing techniques, exposure to cold temperatures, meditation techniques, and physical exercises. It is based on 3 practices:
Breathing. Your conscious breathing system increases blood oxygen levels, providing more energy, lower stress levels, and an increased immune response to pathogens.
Commitment. It forms the basis of the other 2 practices because both require patience and dedication.
Wim Hof and his certified trainers claim that anyone can perform the method because of its simplicity and thus regain the enormous inner power that we humans have forgotten due to the disconnection we have with ourselves and our inner selves.
Scientific studies related to the Wim Hof Method
In 2011 the Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen in the Netherlands put Wim Hof to the test. He was given endotoxin, a bacterium that causes the immune system to react by causing flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, or chills.
However, by performing his breathing and meditation techniques, Hof increased the presence of noradrenaline (the hormone I mentioned at the beginning) himself.
Wim Hof’s body’s immune response was reduced by 50% compared to other patients, and the creator of the method did not suffer any symptoms as a result of the endotoxin.
Three years later, to see if it was a capability that only Hof had or something that other people who practiced his method could repeat, the same university conducted a new study with 12 volunteers trained by Hof.
They all demonstrated the same ability as the creator of the method to consciously control their autonomic nervous system and their body’s immune response.
He teaches his technique all over the world and has certified teachers who also run workshops in different parts of the world. I haven’t been to one of them yet, but it is definitely on my agenda.
I do get into cold water as I mentioned earlier, but I am missing the proper breathing technique. At first, when you get in the water, it is scary, but as your body gets used to it and your breathing becomes steady, you start to enjoy all the sensations your body feels and after the bath, you feel as if you can just conquer the world!