If the year 2020 has taught us anything, it is that our bodies come first. Taking care of our health and bodies is one of the most important priorities that has come to light with greater force with the coronavirus pandemic. There is nothing about our bodies that we can take lightly. While agencies and esteemed bodies work on discovering a vaccine for the virus that has brought the whole world to a halt, there is not much else common people can do other than wait.
In such a scenario, notions of biohacking and taking matters of your body into your own hand become interesting. Biohacking or do-it-yourself biology is a lifestyle that involves making changes to one’s diet or life for certain health benefits.
The approach to health comes from certain hacker ethics that find innovative ways to get the body to behave the way one wants. While biohacking poses several complicated debates and even some potential dangers given how unregulated the field is, in the current climate of helplessness, it does seem to offer certain virtues.
Biohacker David Asprey swears by the benefits of sauna, especially infrared sauna. Asprey is one of the most popular proponents of biohacking and has released a book called Super Human: The Bulletproof Plan to Age Backward and Maybe Even Live Forever that offers several revolutionary approaches to aging. Asprey finds saunas use an especially effective way to combat signs of aging and hack one’s body and health.
Asprey is not too off the mark. There have been studies that showed that sustained use of the sauna over six months brought down all-cause mortality in the participants by 40%. While it is not clear what factors cause this decrease in all-cause mortality, there may be correlations between the release of heat shock proteins in the cells, which is a direct result of exposure to heat in the sauna.
Heat shock proteins are antigens that are produced in the cells when the body is exposed to stressful conditions such as extreme temperatures, exposure to UV light, etc. These are highly conserved proteins that make the cells stronger and enhance the immune system’s ability to resist infections and diseases.
Why Infrared Saunas
Asprey is a big proponent of infrared saunas in particular. While there is no concrete evidence to suggest that the effects of one type of sauna are better than others, an infrared sauna does have certain benefits when it comes to convenience. For starters, one can sit in an infrared sauna for longer because the temperature does not need to go as high as a traditional sauna.
An infrared sauna uses infrared light to heat the objects it comes in contact with, instead of heating the air around it. So the body becomes hot even as the air in the sauna may still be cool. In fact, infrared saunas are more effective at lower temperatures than traditional saunas which also makes them more energy efficient. All these factors make infrared saunas cheaper than traditional saunas. They also do not cost as much money to maintain.
For Asprey, full-spectrum infrared saunas are the winners, including near, mid and far-infrared saunas. The subdivisions of the infrared spectrum are split into three sub regions. Far-infrared (400 – 30 cm-1), mid-infrared (4000 – 400 cm-1) and near-infrared (14000 – 4000 cm-1). According to Asprey’s blog, the following are some of the benefits of these saunas.
Far-infrared therapy uses far-infrared radiation. That sounds simple enough but the science behind it is slightly more complex. Far-infrared radiation falls on the farthest end of the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelength of this type of infrared light falls farthest on the spectrum, which is where it gets its name.
According to Asprey, far-infrared saunas are useful for detoxification, lowering blood pressure and relaxing the body.
Mid-infrared radiation refers to the type of infrared light that falls in the middle of the electromagnetic spectrum. Asprey deems mid-infrared saunas useful for improving circulation, increasing weight loss and providing pain relief.
Near-infrared radiation falls at the nearest point on the electromagnetic spectrum. These types of saunas are most useful for enhancing cell immunity through the production of heat shock proteins and other hormones. These saunas are also useful for healing wounds, offer several anti-aging benefits and also reduce oxidative stress.
Benefits of Sweating
One of the biggest benefits of the sauna, whether infrared or traditional, is that it makes you sweat. Sweating is an extremely important physiological process. Not only does it help the body cool down when the core temperature has risen, it is also an effective way of ridding the body of toxins.
“It also helps you get rid of both heavy metals and xenobiotics – foreign compounds like plastics and petrochemicals – in small but significant amounts,” Asprey wrote in his blog.
Sweating is the body’s natural way of ridding itself of certain toxins. A good session in the sauna is one of the best ways to stimulate sweating while also using the goodness of infrared to improve circulation, produce heat shock proteins and enhance immunity.
Infrared saunas are an innovative technology that combine all the benefits of the traditional sauna while also providing some unique benefits of its own. This is a fuss-free way of enjoying a sauna session. You do not need to create steam in the room, the infrared light will provide the required heat. These saunas also allow people to enjoy longer sessions as they operate at lower temperatures compared to traditional saunas.
Infrared saunas are also the better choice for households as they can be fitted quite easily in the backyard or extra space. They are energy efficient and will not escalate your electricity bill. These saunas are also easy to maintain as they remain dry as opposed to traditional saunas which may require more wipe downs. The humidity may also start affecting the wood after a point. As Asprey says, infrared saunas may be one of the best tools for biohackers.