Having been teaching and sharing wellness since 2002, I have learned a lot. Time after time, while offering many of my gifts, I have been told that I look at least 10-20 years younger than I actually am. Many people owe my youth to the many practices that I have employed since taking that first yoga class when I was 16 years old, but I’m not so sure. Recently there has been a lot of research into cold shock proteins and I believe this may have a lot to do with my youthful appearance.
I grew up in a small town in southwest Colorado. The Animas river carved its way through this small town, and I spent most of my days swimming or playing in this river. Little did I know that extreme exposure to cold is good for health.
Cold showers have been used to treat depression, because they release nor-epinephrine into the brain, where it is involved in vigilance, focus, attention and mood. Nor-epinephrine can rise 200-300% with cold immersion near 0 Celsius for 20 seconds / 3 times a week.
Norepinephrine’s anti-inflammatory activity is due to its inhibition of inflammatory cytokines including TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha), which is involved in type 2 diabetes, cancer, anxiety and depression.
When I would jump in the Animas rives it would activate cold thermogenesis, a way for the body to produce heat. Activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in order to burn regular fat for heat generation through fat oxidation. Enhancing the mitochondrial production of ATP and thereby increasing the number of mitochondria. The cold shock proteins RNA binding motif 3 (RBM3) is linked to regeneration of synapses in the brain.
This explains why I would wear shorts year round, even when there was 5 feet of snow on the ground. When we employ the rituals recommended by Ayurvedic medicine, we sometimes forget that these recommendations grew up in a time without running water and state of the art houses. Exposure to cold was normal. Have you seen those pictures of people bathing in the Ganges river? Could it be that so much of what we attribute to Ayurveda is merely the act of living in harmony with nature? That is why I attribute my childhood and the ability to grow up close to a river as one of the primary factors in longevity. What are your stories? What opportunities did you experience in childhood that have led to your current day experience of health?
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