Category: Longevity

Cold Therapy Benefits

I’ve been around for long enough to see health trends come and go, but cold therapy is one that has staying power. Humans have probably been using cold water to treat injury and illness, wake up their senses, and challenge their physical fortitude for all of human history. The modern obsession with cold plunges, cryotherapy chambers, and sitting underclothed in the snow doing controlled hyperventilation (a la “The Iceman” Wim Hof and his eponymous method of breathwork paired with extreme cold endurance feats) is just the newest iteration. There is something fundamental about the relationship between humans and the cold. 

Of course, Grok wasn’t taking cold showers to stimulate his immune system or revive senses dulled by hours and years of participating in corporate drudgery. He was washing in cold rivers and wading into the ocean to trap sea creatures out of necessity. But the effect was the same as when we modern humans do a polar bear plunge in the icy sea—a stronger, more robust body.  

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How to Improve Balance, and Why It’s Important

Everything in the world is conspiring to make you fall over. The ground is slippery, slick, and studded with protrusions. The earth moves under your feet. Discarded banana peels are an ever-present threat. Gravity itself exerts a constant downward pull.

You probably only think about balance when you decide to test it—or when you lose it. But you’re relying on it every second that you’re not lying prone. Whenever you work at your standing desk, step out of the shower, hustle across a busy intersection, or ride your kids to school on your bikes, you can thank your balance for allowing you to successfully move through your day without injury.

Stop for a second and think about how much goes into maintaining balance:

Musculoskeletal strength and coordination: Balance requires not just adequately strong bones, muscles, and joints but also proper alignment. Muscles that are too tight or too weak can cause imbalances.
Vision: Visual input provides an overview of the physical surroundings, and external focus (looking at a point in the environment) helps keep us from losing our balance as easily.
Vestibular system: The fluid in our inner ears acts as a kind of level, telling us where our bodies are in space.
Somatosensory system: The nerves in our muscles and connective tissues relay information about our position in the surroundings.
Cognition: The brain has to integrate all the information coming in from the body and make adjustments on the fly to fight gravity.

That we (usually) manage to stay upright at all is impressive!

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All About the Liver, and How to Support Your Favorite Detoxification Organ

The liver is incredible. Most people think of it as a filter, but filters are physical barriers that accumulate junk and have to be cleaned. The liver isn’t a filter. It’s a chemical processing plant. Rather than sit there, passively receiving, filtering out, and storing undesirable compounds, the liver encounters toxic chemicals and attempts to metabolize them into less-toxic metabolites that we can handle.

It oxidizes the toxins, preparing them for further modification
It converts the toxins to a less-toxic, water-soluble version that’s easier to excrete
It excretes the toxins through feces or urine

Bam. It’s an elegant process, provided everything is working well back there. And it’s not the only process it controls.

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6 Mind-Body Approaches for Menopause

Perimenopause and menopause comes with a complex web of physical, psychological, and social symptoms.

The treatment usually prescribed by doctors, hormone therapy (HT), is controversial and not appropriate for some women. I won’t get into the HT debate here—Mark did a great job covering the pros and cons recently. Suffice it to say that HT isn’t the answer for everyone, and it’s not a panacea by any means.

Whether or not they choose to go the HT route, many women desire additional support during perimenopause and beyond. For the sake of keeping this post from becoming a novella, I’m going to focus on mind-body therapies today.

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Friends, Health, and Longevity: Live Longer with a Little Help from Your Friends?

Humans are inherently social creatures. We know this. Looking at our species through an evolutionary lens, we tend to talk about our need for social connection as it relates to survival. Our ancestors needed to work in teams to hunt, collect water and firewood, build shelters, rear young, keep watch for predators, and all the other business of staying alive. While that’s undoubtedly true, our need for affiliation runs much deeper than those practical concerns. Our health and well-being quite literally depend on having strong social bonds with others. 

Even when our survival is assured thanks to safe housing, easy access to clean water and plentiful food, medical care, and financial security, lonely or socially isolated individuals are likely to die sooner. On the flip side, a robust social support network is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes and longer lives. 

Friends, it turns out, have a profound impact on health and longevity. Of course, it’s not just about the number of years we have but how we spend them, and good friends also make our lives more enjoyable in countless ways.

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7 Herbal Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT

For many women, menopause can introduce new health challenges. In addition to the symptoms that perturb basic quality of life like hot flashes, headaches, night sweats, and irritability, menopause is also associated with higher risks for serious health concerns like osteoporosis, cognitive decline, and metabolic syndrome. This has made the standard treatment for menopause—hormone replacement therapy, or HRT—a multi-billion dollar business.

A few weeks ago, I explored the benefits and risks of HRT. It has its merits certainly, but it’s not for everyone. Today’s post is for those people who want to try something else. Say you’ve waded through the morass of HRT research and would prefer a different route. Or maybe you’ve actually tried conventional or bioidentical HRT and found it just didn’t work for you. Whatever the reason, you’re probably interested in using “natural” products if you can swing it and if it’ll actually help.

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