Harvard on the cold

Frost, at times, can be a difficult test for health and be reflected both in a favorable and not very way. We often forget, but it is the winter frost that kills pathogenic insects and microorganisms, thereby providing a great service to the northern regions. One of the fears associated with global warming is the potential risk that temperatures will not reach the required minimum to kill dangerous insects.

In theory, frost promotes weight loss by stimulating metabolically active brown fat. It is not for nothing that dousing and even bathing in ice water has long been practiced in Scandinavia and Russia – it is believed that such procedures stimulate the immune system, some (not all) scientific sources confirm this.

However, there are also Numerous studies note the peak of mortality in the winter season. In winter, blood pressure rises. According to some reports, 70% of winter deaths are associated with heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the flu is a winter phenomenon, a favorable environment for the spread of the virus is dry and cold air. The situation is aggravated by darkness, which prevails in the winter months. When exposed to sunlight, the skin produces vitamin D, which has all sorts of health benefits. Northern people experience a lack of this vitamin in winter, which, of course, does not affect in the best way.

Our body is able to adapt quite well and painlessly to the cold, if it is not extreme temperatures. . Thus, the insulating ability of the skin is realized, in which the circulating blood loses less heat. In addition, the vital organs are protected from temperature extremes. But here, too, there is a danger: reduced blood flow to the peripheral parts of the body – fingers, toes, nose, ears – which become vulnerable to frostbite (occurs when the fluids around the tissue freeze).

Rapid, rhythmic muscle contractions direct the flow of heat, which allows the rest of the body to warm up. The body uses more muscles as the temperature decreases, so that shivering can become intense and uncomfortable. Involuntarily, a person begins to stamp his feet, move his hands – an attempt by the body to generate heat, which can often stop the chills. Physical exercise stimulates blood flow to the skin, thereby we lose some heat.

Different reactions to cold depend on the constitution of the body. Tall people tend to freeze faster than short people because more skin means more heat loss. The reputation of fat as an insulating substance against the cold is well deserved, but for this purpose you need

In some countries, low temperatures are quite seriously used for medical purposes. Whole body cryotherapy was invented in Japan for the treatment of pain and inflammation, including rheumatic and otherwise. Patients spend 1-3 minutes in a room with a temperature of -74C. A few years ago, Finnish researchers reported the results of a study conducted among 10 women. For 3 months, the participants were immersed in ice water for 20 seconds, and they also underwent whole-body cryotherapy sessions. Blood tests remained unchanged except for the level of norepinephrine a few minutes after immersion in ice water. Its effect lies in the fact that it is able to cause a feeling of confidence, as well as readiness to perform certain actions. Norepinephrine neutralizes the well-known fear hormone, adrenaline. Important body processes are normalized after stress, everyday affairs and various problems are much easier to solve.    

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