Let’s talk heat, sweat + detox

By Dr. Sara Gottfried

Sara Gottfried, M.D. is the New York Times bestselling author of Women, Food, and Hormones, The Hormone Reset Diet and The Hormone CureDr. Gottfried is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and MIT, and she owns a Clearlight Sanctuary sauna.

You’ve seen me in the sauna a lot recently and I’ve been writing about the benefits of hormesis for years. Here are five important benefits of sauna bathing:

  1. Activates the longevity gene called FOXO3, which turns on the genes for stress resilience, antioxidant production, protein maintenance, DNA repair (prevents mutations), and tumor killing. Most of these genes decrease their genomic expression with age.
  2. Increases insulin sensitivity (more glucose receptors on muscle cells), resulting in a striking reduction of 1 percent unit in the glycated hemoglobin, fasting glucose, and body weight in people with diabetes.
  3. Enhances heart rate variability and balance in the nervous system.
  4. Improves athletic performance (endurance, less muscle atrophy, more plasma volume).
  5. Increases capacity for stress tolerance by reducing the sympathetic nervous system, as measured by reduced adrenaline and cortisol in just seven days.

Not only is sweating a great way to help remove heavy metals (Sears, 2012), saunas may increase longevity. Sauna is a heat stressor, a form of hormesis that resets the body, including the way DNA is expressed (how it talks to the body and environment). Hormesis is a beneficial biological response in the body (improved health, stress tolerance, growth, or longevity) to something triggering it. That trigger is often exposure to low doses of an agent that is toxic or lethal at high doses.

In addition to turning on other important genes, the longevity gene FOXO3 also makes heat shock proteins (HSPs). Heat shock proteins ensure that the proteins in your body maintain their proper 3-D structure when under stress. Proteins should be properly folded, like a fitted sheet, not bunched up and wrinkled. Poorly folded proteins clump together and cause damage (such as in atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s), leading to shorter lives. In a study published in JAMA, researchers found that men who enjoyed a sauna four to seven times per year had a 40 percent drop in mortality of all causes!

Saunas also generate “runner’s high” and boost growth hormone and testosterone (read more on the benefits of those hormones in Women, Food, and Hormones.)

If it’s an option, go to your local gym or consider investing in a home sauna. Sit in a sauna four to seven days a week for twenty to sixty minutes. Dry saunas have the most evidence that they help you age well, but infrared saunas are not far behind. We like hormesis—positive stress!

I get this question a lot, so sharing which sauna I use the most often (#notanad) – Clearlight Saunas from www.HealwithHeat.com.

The Heal with Heat Team can reached at 800-317-5070 or info@HealwithHeat.com