I recently stumbled upon two different pieces of literature describing how polar opposites in temperature may reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer's.
The first piece of literature is featured on the UK Alzheimer's Society page:
"...Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland followed 2,315 men aged 42-60 years for 20 years as part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Study. Men who reported taking a sauna 4-7 times per week were 66% less likely to receive a diagnosis of dementia than those who only sauna once a week. They were also 65% less likely to receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease...."
The last piece of literature featured on the BBC UK website on 19 October:
"...Cold water swimming may protect the brain from degenerative diseases like dementia, researchers from Cambridge University have discovered.
In a world first, a "cold-shock" protein has been found in the blood of regular winter swimmers at London's Parliament Hill Lido.
The protein has been shown to slow the onset of dementia and even repair some of the damage it causes in mice.
Prof Giovanna Mallucci, who runs the UK Dementia Research Institute's Centre at the University of Cambridge, says the discovery could point researchers towards new drug treatments which may help hold dementia at bay..."
It's important to note that the above studies are not conclusive but we can draw two initial conclusions:
- In the first study we have some evidence that exposing your body to extreme high temperatures from a sauna at least 4-7 times per week reduces your risk of cognitive decline in later life.
- In the second study we have some evidence that exposing your body to extreme low temperatures from a cold body of water can slow the onset of dementia and even repair any existing damage in the brain.
If you want to implement this in your own life here are some of my own personal recommendations (NOTE - PLEASE AVOID & ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST IF YOU HAVE A HEART CONDITION OR A FAMILY HISTORY OF HEART CONDITIONS) :
- Buy a portable infrared sauna. This model here comes highly recommended. You can sit in it with your head out and watch TV!
- If you can't afford a portable sauna or don't have the space - run a very hot bath at least 3-4 times a week and sit it in it. It should be a little bit uncomfortable when you initially enter the bath. NOTE| - Be careful not to have it so hot you scold yourself or get 3rd degree burns!
- For the last 30 seconds to a minute of your daily shower run it cold. We wrote a blog on 7 other benefits of having a cold shower - you can check it out here.
- As an alternative to all of this (and provided you have the money to spare) you could join a members health club/spa that have both saunas and plunge pools or cold showers nearby! There is one near where I live that costs around £1500 per year. Definitely not cheap but what price for health huh?
Whilst researching this blog I came across a practice in Nordic cultures called the “hot sauna cold plunge” technique. Basically it involves having a sauna and then plunging into an ice cold pool and then repeating this several times in a session. You can read about how Tony Robbins starts each day with this regime by clicking here