It’s September and the sun is starting to change its arc. In the coming months there’ll be a change in frequency of the light that hits the earth – one of which is UVB. With less sunlight our bodies stop making vitamin D, but don’t worry – we should still have a 3 month store in our skin, so we’ll be fine for a little while especially if we take a winter holiday to southern Spain or beyond. Alternatively you may want to consider supplements.
Be aware, however, there can be down sides to these; when you take vitamin D supplements your body uses up a great deal of Magnesium which can lead to a vitamin A deficiency, so combining it with an animal based retinol (vitamin A) helps. If you’re not inclined to top up your vitamin D with extra fish you may want to consider my favourite way to slow down vitamin D depletion.
Embrace the cold
Lowering your body temperature increases immune function, improves cognition, increases energy levels and gets rid of the fat that you may have built during those visits to lovely summer pub gardens. Yes, you heard that right – winter is the time to drop fat.
Take a look at nature; all mammals that fatten up seasonally do it in the autumn to prepare for winter and lose that excess fat during the cold months. This is known as ‘cold thermogenesis’ and is based on a few key points. First, the cold causes your body to burn your fat store as free heat. Second, it causes a release of immune boosting hormones as well as a few growth factors to improve growth of the nervous and vascular systems.
Third, it relegates energy efficiency of the cell and oxygen transport. The face and chest are key indicators for the rest of the body and will signal an effect across the whole body so to get started all you need effect is a small area.
How to embrace the cold
I know the idea of jumping in a cold lake and swimming might seem a bit extreme but the results are worth it. Start gradually and build up until you can wear just a t-shirt in the snow and still feeling comfortable.
Step 1: Face dunks
Fill a basin with cold tap water, take a big breath and hold your head under until you can’t stand it or need to take a breath. This also induces intermittent hypoxia which has the added benefits of increasing new brain cell growth.
Step 2: Cold showers
Start warm, as normal, and at the end finish by gradually turning the water down to the lowest possible and holding under it for a full 10 seconds. Increase this by 10 seconds daily until you can wash underneath it.
Step 3: Cold baths
Some may find this easier than the showers as it’s just the initial shock of getting in sit there for 10 deep breaths and it becomes much easier. Start between 1-3 minutes and build to 5 then 10 minutes.
If you become addicted to this and want some of the superhuman abilities like Wim Hoff who climbed mount Everest in shorts, then seek professional help from someone with experience in temperature therapy.
Can everyone do it?
Yes – but not all at the same level, those with poor omega 3:6 ratios will struggle much more and people with Reynolds may have to take extra care and time to increase as it will take time to increase the vascularity in their extremities.
The best options to help increase tolerance to cold is a diet high in seafood due to its DHA (Omega 3) content and you can also supplement with bitter melon which will aid WAT to BAT conversion.