You may have heard that cold showers are good for you, but it has always been a bit of an old wives tale, with no real evidence to support the claims.
Cold water therapy is used in many cultures, as a way of curing anything from broken bones to erectile dysfunction!
It has been claimed that cold showers/baths firm the skin, promote shiny hair, and energise, but the benefits are more far reaching than this.
Firstly, it is important to note you can have a hot shower and then have a quick blast with cold water after, or have short cold baths.
Evidence now shows that the practice will lower the body temperature and induce thermogenesis (heat production) through shivering. Now, shivering-thermogenesis does use energy and will, therefore, burn calories. But, something far more profound happens. Shivering-thermogenesis causes the production of an enzyme, that stimulates the conversion of your adipose tissue (fat) into a different type of fat, called brown fat, which distributes itself in a different way within the body. Brown fat is highly beneficial as it constantly burns energy due to its ability to produce heat (non-shivering thermogenesis). Therefore, the more brown fat you have, the easier it is to lose weight. Furthermore, as the brown fat produces heat, the more there is, the more resilient you will become to the cold. A reduction in adipose tissue improves insulin sensitivity, which reduces the risk of diabetes, and further improves ability to manage weight.
Before we were able to have hot showers, or clothes that protected us from the cold, we would have had a lot more brown fat to keep us warm. Perhaps the lack of cold exposure and, therefore, the consequential lack of calorie burning brown fat, play a more significant role in today’s health crisis than we realise.
Please Note: It is advised that those with heart conditions or those who currently have a bacterial or viral infection should seek advice from their GPs before trying cold showers/ baths.