I see everywhere during winter commercials for cold medicine and the usual advice to dress up well and avoid the outdoors. One would wonder how we made it through over 2 and a half million winters. Simple, we were cold adapted. This is one of the missing links to great health. Cold is deeply linked to our genetics and we even have a reflex for it. It’s called mammalian diving reflex. We have inherit it from the small mammals that strived to survive in a cold environment after the event that eradicated the dinosaurs. We can use this reflex in our favor to stay healthy in winter time. I have tried it on myself and I didn’t get a cold this year. It is simple to put in practice and it takes very little time.
Dipping in cold water the paranasal area (nose and forehead) for a ten to twenty seconds repeatedly until the skin is getting slightly red activates the reflex. This is preparing the body to adapt to a cold environment and but also for the lack of oxygen. There are a few important effects to mention. First the blood pressure will drops down while most of the blood moves to protect the internal organs. Blood vessels constrict in hands and feet pushing the blood out and leaving behind structured or crystalline water also know as EZ (Exclusion Zone) water. This water from the blood plasma does not freeze at the normal temperature. Water in very small capillaries freezes at very low temperatures. It has been shown by Dr. Pollack to withstand down to approximately -80F (-62C) before it’s freezing up. That explains why trees survive in winter and seals can swim in cold water while the muscles are hypoxic (low oxygen levels). Many assume that the lactic acid in muscle alone can produce the energy are not taking in consideration the water charge separation in the peripheral capillaries. Many are trying to prove that sugar, fructose or cellulose prevents the water to freeze. They are looking at everything else but water behaviour as a structure. We are mostly made from it and we really need to understand it.
Why being cold adapted matters in today’s world? We are tied to seasonal change. We do fight against it with warm houses, warm cars. When temperature gradient is too wide, it creates many health issues. We have indoors summer temperatures while outdoors below zero. Dressing up warmly does not create a smooth transition in this situation. We inhale cold air as we step out the door and without notice we freeze off our laryngeal cells membrane. This gives way to bacteria that is residing in our respiratory system to enter through the cracks creating inflammation. This is how we get the common cold.
As we grow older we are more sensitive to cold up to the point that a drift will make us catch pneumonia. This is the expected path according to the statistics.
A few simple steps will improve your cold adaptation:
- Use the mammalian dive in reflex. Practice it twice daily by holding your head in a sink with cold water at around 55 -60F (10-12C) until the skin is slightly red and you can feel a bit of numbness. Don’t over do it. At first the skin will get red immediately. In time as you get adapted it will take longer to reach the color and numbness.
- Keep your house temperature as low as possible for your comfort.
- You can try to wear less and less clothes as you get adapted.
Your hands and feet will adapt slower.
- Keep your car heater as low as possible to avoid sudden temperature changes.
These are a few easy steps to take advantage of a reflex embedded in all mammals. It is deeply embedded, literally in our face. It laboratory tests on mice the dissection of AEN (anterior ethmoidal nerve) at the nasal area stopped the bradycardia (low blood pressure) and regain from apnea (stop breathing). Signals for this reflex are send also by the infra-orbital nerve on a wider area in the brain affecting the metabolism. Yes getting cold adapted make you loose fat big time. This is why a low carb diet reaches a plateau when is not combined with the right season. Cold water alone does this and it is too cheap to be promoted. There are a few methods for you to study and try at your choice. The Cold Thermogenesis from Dr.Jack Kruse and The Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof has also an App called Innerfire that will assist you. Dr. Kruse protocol is straight forward and based on this reflex.
On the down side some can have a brain freeze or catch a cold initially. This is due to the poor fat ratios in the cell membrane. Checking on the Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio will give you the idea. Eating seafood and fish will change the fat ratios making the cell membrane more resilient to cold. In fact all our winter health issues are linked to cold adaptation and fat ratio. We consume a large amount of seed oils and it doesn’t matter if the are cis form (natural form – not trans). Looking for a quality Omega 3 supplement at the beginning will reduce in time the brain freeze and extend the time you can withstand a cold environment without getting sick.