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ENERGIZE AND DETOX WITH INFRARED LIGHT THERAPY

When the first lockdown hit in here in the UK at the end of March 2020, our family holiday to Mexico got cancelled much to everyone’s disappointment.

The initial April showers soon gave way to the driest May on record and we were able to bask in the Spring sunshine with long family bike rides and walks with our dogs. Not quite the white powdery sand we had longed for on the beaches of Mexico, but quality family time and lots of fresh air all the same.

The sun is a powerful source of energy and an effective mood booster for many people. The sun is thought to release a hormone, serotonin which is associated with improved mood and helping you stay calm and focused.

But the benefits of the sun go much wider than this.

The sun offers many different spectrums of light which are “bioactive” in humans. “Bioactive” means that the light affects the functioning of human cells.

RED LIGHT

The sun is a rich source of UVB radiation which stimulates the production of Vitamin D. An excess of UV light can cause sunburn. However, red light and near-infrared light protect the skin from sunburn.

Red light is a form of radiation that is visible to the human eye. It’s wavelength exists between 600 and 700 nanometres (nm). Red light is able to easily penetrate the skin and reach cells and tissues deep within the body.

INFRARED LIGHT

One of the types of bioactive light that we benefit from from the sun is infrared light. There are three main wavelengths of infrared light: near-infrared, far-infrared and mid-infrared.

A 3 in1 infra red sauna like the mPulse from Sunlighten can give you access to these three particular forms of bioactive light that are especially important to human health.

Near Infrared Light

Near infra-red light acts on the same pathways as red light and stimulates the production of ATP in the mitochondria. Near-infrared light has wavelengths between 700 – 1400 nm. It generates the most heat and while it is able to penetrate and heal the skin.

The 760 – 895 nm range of infrared light can stimulate the mitochondria function, which can increase metabolism, improve tissue repair, and reduce inflammation.

A Study on the Effect of Infrared Radiation On Skin Photo-Aging

and Pigmentation showed that near infrared light can help enhance collagen synthesis, cell proliferation, and keratinocyte motility.

Combining near infrared light therapy with red light therapy in the form of regular treatments has been shown to have powerful effects on healing skin conditions, enhancing mitochondrial health and increasing time to failure in exercise, reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and increase muscle performance.

I talk about the powerful effects of red light therapy in my podcasts with James Strong, founder of www.redlightrising.com and Dr Mike Bekwolski, founder of www.biolight.shop. If you are interested in purchasing one of these devices you can get a 5% discount off the range of red light devices and blue light blocking glasses at www.redlightrising.com with coupon code ANGELA. You can also get a 10% discount off the red light devices at biolight.shop with coupon code ANGELA10.

Mid Infrared Light

Mid infrared light has wavelengths of between 1,400nm and 3,000nm. It penetrates more deeply than red light, into the body’s soft tissue where inflammation occurs. Exposure to mid infra red light helps to expand blood vessels and increase circulation, speeding up the healing process of any injuries through better oxygen and nutrient delivery.

Far Infrared Light

This is the energy of heat that you feel from the sun. It has wavelengths of between 3000 nm and 1 mm.

Far infrared light therapy is able to penetrate deepest into the tissues. Far infrared has the longest wavelength and so is able to reach deepest into the body, where toxins are stored.

THE BENEFITS OF INFRARED SAUNA THERAPY

Aware of the numerous benefits of infrared therapy, I had long been looking to invest in an infrared sauna for our home. When our holiday to Mexico got cancelled, it seemed like the perfect alternative investment which would give us many of the benefits from equatorial sun, but for a much longer term than just one week.

 

As I researched infrared therapy in more detail, looking for the right sauna to buy, I deepened my knowledge of the incredible healing and longevity benefits of infrared sauna therapy.

Most people are aware of the benefits of sauna for detoxification and some people are also aware that it can enhance weight loss but the benefits of sauna go way beyond that.

ENERGY PRODUCTION

Sauna use has been shown to improve health in so many ways including increasing the number of mitochondria in your cells.

Mitochondria are the little energy powerhouses of your body.

Each of the 27 trillion plus cells in our body contain mitochondria.

Mitochondria are the power plants or “energy powerhouses” within your cells. Mitochondria produce energy as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that your body uses to fuel your day-to-day activities. Mitochondria are responsible for how energised you feel from day to day.

Your energy levels and vitality depend directly on the quality, the size, the number, the power and the function of your mitochondria. Think of these mitochondria as the batteries that your mind and body are running on.

Heat Stress & Heat Shock Proteins

Heat stress has been shown to improve mitochondrial health.

In response to heat our bodies release heat shock proteins which are a special type of protein that become raised with high heat exposure. These heat shock proteins have been shown to play a big part in improving the health and function of our mitochondria.

In addition to the improvements in mitochondria, sauna and heat stress have been shown to enhance autophagy which is the recycling and repair of damaged cells including damaged mitochondria – a process known as mitophagy.

The simplest way to understand this is to think of autophagy and mitophagy as the equivalent of cellular housekeeping.

DETOXIFICATION

Sauna use is also an incredible way to detoxify your body from environmental chemicals, toxins and heavy metals. A powerful sauna with high emissivity is able to help detoxify heavy metals and even Lyme.

CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

Sauna has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health. In fact, in a Finnish study of over 2000 men over the course of 20 years, it was found that the risk of fatal cardiovascular events was 23% lower in those men that had sauna sessions two to three times per week and 48% lower for those men who engaged in sauna 4-7 times per week.

The Japanese have been using sauna therapy and studying it for its effects on heart disease for over 20-years. A practice known as Waon therapy involves placing patients in a 60 degrees C sauna for 15 minutes and then following this up with 30 minutes under a warm blanket. The patients engage in this therapy for 5 days a week for a number of weeks or months. The results of Waon therapy are impressive and include improved blood flow, improved vascular function, improved sympathetic nervous system function and improved cardiac function.

Sauna has also been shown to improve vascular flow and endothelial function and so may be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes and obesity who also have impaired endothelial function.

ENHANCED PERFORMANCE

If like me, you’re someone who is really into exercise, then sauna can actually help to enhance your physical performance. The hyperthermic conditioning that comes from heat stress has been shown to increase blood plasma volume and blood flow to the heart and also increase red blood cells.

More red blood cells means a greater capacity to deliver oxygen to your cells which means better energy and better performance not just physically but also for brain performance. As I also mentioned earlier, sauna use improves thermoregulatory mechanisms which helps your body to stay cooler and perform better at higher temperatures.

One of the other amazing benefits is the enhanced blood flow improves nutrient delivery to your skeletal muscles and this can help to reduce glycogen depletion during exercise by as much as 50%. Essentially, sauna helps to make your body a lot more efficient and optimised. Studies have also shown increases in muscle growth as heat-shock proteins seem to help repair damaged cells and also prevent future damage.

THE EFFECTS ON YOUR BRAIN

Amazingly, sauna can also help your brain. Just as exercise helps to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor – BDNF – so can regular sauna use especially if you combine the two practices together. BDNF is like “Miracle-Gro for your brain”. It helps to enhance the growth of new brain cells and also importantly improves the survival of your existing brain cells. BDNF also enhances neuroplasticity which is key for long-term memory and for learning.

Sauna has been shown to cause a bigger release of beta endorphins in the brain which leads to improved mood and lower stress. It has also been shown that acclimation to heat over a long-term helps you to become more sensitive to endorphins and so you’re more likely to experience the high that you get from endorphin release. You may be familiar with this in the form of a “runners high”.

Not only does regular sauna use help to produce more endorphins, but it also increases the sensitivity of endorphin receptors and helps the body to produce more endorphin receptors. It does this in response to a substance called dynorphin which is released when the body is under heat stress. Dynorphin plays a role in regulation of heat, but it also produces discomfort and so the body cleverly produces endorphins to counter the effects of dynorphin. More endorphin receptors and greater sensitivity to endorphins means that you can more easily get pleasure from everyday activities.

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

The upregulation of heat shock proteins and another family of proteins known as the FOX family of proteins (including FOX03) may also help to repair misfolded proteins and restore their proper structure. You may be aware of the accumulation over time of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain which has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Beta amyloid plaque can result from the accumulation of misfolded proteins. In stimulating heat stress, this may activate the repair of those misfolded proteins. In a Finnish study of a group of over 2000 men over 20 years, it was found that those who used sauna between 4 and 7 times a week had a 66% reduced risk of dementia and a 65% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to the men who used the sauna once per week.

INFLAMMATION

Sauna also has a powerful effect on reducing inflammation. Inflammation has been correlated with almost every single chronic modern disease that we are facing today. Chronic inflammation seems to be the body’s attempt to heal itself, just as in the case of acute inflammation.

EFFECTS ON IMMUNITY

Heat shock proteins are not just important for lowering inflammation but also for boosting your immune system, both for the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.

LONGEVITY

And, if you are someone who is interested in enhancing your longevity, then I would definitely suggest regular sauna use. As we age, we accumulate damage to our cells and a lessening in our cellular defense mechanism. I’ve talked about the activation of heat shock proteins through sauna use and this can help with longevity as heat shock proteins can help to repair damaged cells and promote autophagy (the recycling and repair of damaged parts of cells). Heat shock proteins have also been shown to be helpful in glutathione production (which is your body’s master antioxidant) and also in scavenging free radicals. In studies in flies and worms, exposure to heat stress resulted in an up to 15% increase in lifespan. While these are not human studies, they indicate the potential. As you heard earlier, heat stress activates the FOX03 gene which has been called the “longevity gene”.

WHAT TYPE OF SAUNA IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

When thinking about sauna use, there are two main different types of saunas that you can consider.

Traditional hot rock saunas usually operate at extremely high temperatures of over 200 degrees F. These types of saunas heat the air around you and can feel uncomfortable for many people.

More recently, infrared saunas have become more popular and for all of the reasons talked about in this blog article.

As you have learnt in this article, far infrared light is experienced as heat. It is the invisible part of the sun’s spectrum and is necessary for all living things.

There are different types of infrared saunas. Most are far infrared saunas, but the most powerful are full spectrum saunas which emit three different infrared wavelengths:

Near-infrared,
mid-infrared and
far-infrared.
When these are emitted at optimal frequencies the different wavelengths of light can target specific benefits.

As the air in infrared saunas is not as hot, they also tend to be better tolerated and can be more relaxing. As a result people will often stay inside them longer and sweat and detoxify more. And when you come out of an infrared sauna you generally feel amazing rather than drained.

Not all saunas are created equal and if you are thinking of buying one I would suggest that you do your research and make sure that you are buying a quality sauna that has low levels of EMF radiation and one that is constructed from a good quality wood.

You should also consider the heat emissivity, which is a measurement of how efficiently infrared heat is conducted. The higher the emissivity the better as it results in a higher quality and quantity of infrared light.

Part of the reason I chose a Sunlighten 3-in-1 MPulse sauna is that its heaters are up to 99% emissive and deliver the most effective far, mid and near infrared heat available.

Sunlighten also manufactures the only 3 in 1 system with three separate heating zones that deliver near, mid and far infrared at optimal wavelengths. These wavelengths are calculated based on more than 50 clinical studies.

ARE YOU READY TO SWEAT?

If you are thinking about making an investment in an infrared sauna, I highly recommend you check out my recent podcast with Joie Risk, the MD of Sunlighten UK and an infrared expert. If you would like to find out more about the 3-in-1 sauna by Sunlighten, you can also head over to www.sunlighten.co.uk and if you are in the UK, request to speak to Joie Risk who will look after you if you mention my name.

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