Can Cold Therapy Boost Immunity?

Winter is usually a time when most people would prefer to stay inside cozying up in front of the fire with a nice cup of hot cocoa in one hand and the TV remote in the other. And why not? The flu rears its ugly head in the colder months and the many other viruses are doing the rounds. So naturally, you want to stay warm and well.

But what if the cold weather wasn’t the villain? What if there were benefits to be had from exposing your body to cold temperatures? Well, there is growing evidence to suggest a cold environment could actually do wonders for your health.

Why is the Cold Beneficial?

Scientists have found that frequent exposure to a cold environment can be good for your health because it has been shown to reduce inflammation, speed up metabolic processes and strengthen your immune system.

There was a scientific study which was carried out to test the benefits of being submerged in cold water. A number of people were plunged into cold water (14 C) for six minutes at a time. This was done three times a week for six weeks. Researchers discovered that the cold environment signaled the body to initiate a ‘fight or flight’ response which activated the immune system.

After six weeks of enduring the cold water, the participants had gained some lymphocytes which are responsible for fighting off infections. This is interesting because it shows that submerging your body into cold water can actually increase your white blood cells.

Who is Wim Hof?

The champion of this cold therapy movement is a guy called Wim Hof. He holds twenty world records for putting his own method into practice. He became famous for running half-marathons in the snow wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts. He also takes leisurely swims in ice-cold lakes because he finds it invigorating.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this man is superhuman, but he insists that most people can learn and benefit from his method.

What is the Wim Hof Method?

The Wim Hof Method is comprised of ‘three pillars’ which are breathing techniques, exposure to the cold and the commitment to stick with the method.

The breathing technique is derived from meditation practices that Tibetan Buddhists use. It involves 30 quick breaths through the nose and out of the mouth, followed by deep breaths which fill your lungs capacity and then holding for 10 seconds before breathing out. When you breathe out exhale until you can’t push any more air out, then you hold again for 10 seconds before inhaling.

This breathing technique is designed to induce a hypo-metabolic state where your heart rate is lowered and your mind is calm. This relaxed state reduces the effects of stress and anxiety on the body which is going to have the desired effect.

You’ll be glad to hear that to reap the benefits of cold therapy, you don’t have to run half-naked in the snow, or swim in an ice-cold lake. In fact, Wim himself recommends withstanding 20 seconds in a cold shower at first and then gradually increasing your exposure to the cold.

The Scientific Evidence

The Wim Hof Method has been tried and tested in a scientific setting and the results astonished scientists as they suggest that humans have the potential to control the sympathetic nervous system at will. The research was conducted on twenty-four participants. Twelve had been trained in the Wim Hof method and the other twelve were not.

All of the samples were injected with an endotoxin which usually evokes a strong bodily reaction. The twelve who were trained in Wim’s technique didn’t react as strongly to the endotoxin as those who were not. Researchers believe that it was down to the breathing technique that the trained group used.

It appears that there are benefits to forcing your body into a hyperventilated state. This is probably because when we experience oxygenated blood coursing through our veins without the usual panic that would be associated with such a state, we feel charged due to the chemical changes that are occurring in our bodies.

Wim’s technique combines controlled breathing with exposure to the cold and he does have a strong immune system. Also, people who have learned his method have also strengthened their immune systems and the aforementioned scientific evidence backs this up.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Wim Hof Method, why not head over to his site. Oh, and just one more thing. Before you try Wim’s techniques, it’s always best to discuss it with your physician beforehand.

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What Exactly is the Noom Diet?

It seems as though every year there is a new type of diet that claims to help us lose weight effectively, and this year is no exception. It looks like 2019 is going to be the year of the Noom diet. But the interesting thing about this diet plan is that you can still eat quite a few of the naughty treats that you enjoy. Interested? Well without further ado, let’s take a look at what it is and how you could potentially benefit from this diet.

What is the Noom Diet Plan?

Noom is an app that is designed to facilitate behavior changes around food so that you find a weight loss plan that works with you. It’s similar to Weight Watchers in that all types of food are given a color code as a guide to help you choose which foods to include in your diet each day. Green labeled foods will contain fewer calories than yellow and red labeled foods.

Green labeled foods include fruit, vegetables, low-fat yogurts, and oatmeal. Whereas yellow labeled foods include low-fat cheeses, grilled poultry, beans, and beer. And red labeled foods include pizza, cake, bacon, french fries, and peanut butter.

Why is it Popular?

Unlike other diet plans, with this one, no foods are off-limits because experts recognize that most people can’t stick to a strict diet plan for life. In fact, around 25 percent of the foods that you are allowed to eat each day is in the red label category. However, the plan does promote nutritious foods and the focus is primarily on the quality and quantity of food. The Noom weight loss plan should sit well with yo-yo dieters because it’s not rigid like most diet plans.

Another plus is that it is personalized so it doesn’t operate on a one size fits all policy. Before you begin, you are required to take a quiz so that factors like age, medical conditions and daily activity is taken into account. This data is then applied to your individual diet plan and you keep a log of what you’re eating and how much exercise you’re getting.

What’s more, you are also paired with a personal coach who will answer any questions that you have and will help you transition into eating healthily while helping you to overcome any psychological barriers that are thwarting your chances of success.

Who are Noom’s Coaches?

All of the coaches are required to go through a training program that is centered around proven weight loss practices and to be considered for the training program in the first place, the candidate must come from a health-related field.

Noom Diet Review

Scientific research that was carried out late 2016 found that the vast majority of Noom app users benefited from the plan. An impressive 78 percent of participants lost weight over a nine-month period. However, there is no current data to show what the long-term results are yet because the app is quite new.

Noom currently offers two types of memberships: The Diabetes Prevention Program and the Healthy Weight Program. It costs $59 a month or $750 a year. At the moment they are only charging $199 for a year’s membership.

New Year, New Start

January is always a good opportunity to start afresh. There is something about a new year that gives us that push we often need to make desirable changes in our lives. For most people, it will involve a change that improves them in some way, whether it be eating healthily, going to the gym, starting a new course, learning a new language, a career change, or something of that nature.

While it’s the most popular time of year to make a resolution, many people give up within two weeks because they lose the motivation to stick with it. So, if you find that you are wavering, or if you have already given up; it’s not too late. You can still achieve your goal! Here are five things you can do to help you stay on track.

Focus On One Goal

It’s quite common for people to set lots of new goals at the same time, but the problem with this is that you are likely to become overwhelmed with all the new changes that you are trying to make. Psychology professor, Richard Wiseman believes that the best way to accomplish a goal is to focus on changing one thing at a time. This is because it takes time to establish new behavior patterns.

Be Specific

Once you have chosen your priority goal, you need to be specific about what it is you want to achieve. For instance, aiming to lose weight is a bit vague if you don’t decide exactly how much weight you want to lose in a set period of time. Aim to make your goal as specific as possible because this way you will know exactly what you are working towards.

Make Small Changes

If you are looking to eat more healthily, you don’t have to completely change your diet all at once, you can do it gradually. You could start off by substituting an unhealthy snack for a piece of fruit each day for a week and then eat a healthy breakfast every day for the next week and gradually implement a new healthy eating plan. This way it’s not such a shock to your body as well, and if you are planning to stick to this long-term, allow yourself to have a few unhealthy treats from time to time. You may find that you have more success with your diet change if you can still have some of those treats that you like.

Stay Motivated

The main reason people give up is that they lose the motivation to carry on, so in order to keep up the momentum, you need to consider why you want to achieve a particular goal. Reminding yourself of these reasons will be a source of inspiration when you feel like reverting back to your old ways.

Remember that forming a new habit does take time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re finding it difficult to adjust or if you have a few setbacks along the way. The most important thing is the determination to succeed.