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Hormesis: The What Doesn't Kill Us Tip

There are 1,000,000 types of animals that walk, fly, and roam this earth. How many of them do you think struggle with obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes?

The answer, though obvious, may seem shocking. It’s just us humans and the pets we feed.

What’s with that?

Despite natural selection making the gene pool stronger, we as humans seem to be getting weaker.

It is as if we’ve lost touch with the delicate balance within our own bodies.

It hasn't always been this way though. Chronic diseases have exploded over the last few decades.

Today, it's estimated that 133 million Americans - nearly half of us - have one or more chronic conditions. What is even more alarming is that this number is nearly 15 million higher than a decade ago.

In fact, 4 in 10 of us now succumb to death or disability from a combination of two or more chronic conditions.

So what can we learn from our ancestor's diet and behavior that might help us today?

This will be our theme over the next month as we analyze four well-researched and lesser-known tips that will spell out the word H.O.M.E.

So without further delay, let’s talk HORMESIS in this week’s tip!

Hormesis is defined as a dose-response phenomenon characterized by stress stimulation and high-dose inhibition. Simply put, there is a benefit to introducing small doses of mild stressors to the body. Hormesis as a term may be new to you, but it has been studied and validated by its practitioners for years.

Think of HORMESIS as the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” tip.

Examples would include ice baths, saunas, exercise, hypoxia, and intermittent fasting.

All things we are hearing a lot about these days right?

The reason behind this is that in much the same way some vaccines work, our bodies can become stronger through the introduction of small doses of mild stress.

To provide an example, scientists have studied the effects of cold exposure on the body. Thanks to Wim Hof, aka the iceman, millions of people around the world now regularly practice a combination of cold showers, breathwork, and mindfulness exercises.

Several studies have shown that cold exposure changes the chemical and physical makeup of the body through regulation of the autonomic nervous system and the increase and storage of brown fat(adipose tissue).

Through regular practice, intentional cold exposure helps keep the body’s responses to external stimuli sharp and increases the fuel our bodies need to run a healthy immune response.

Practitioners of cold showers and ice baths also tout its ability for weight loss, stress reduction, inflammation, and improved mental health.

With regard to this week’s tip, think of hormesis as a helpful tool to hack just about any health goal.

Trying to lose weight? Then think in terms of boosting your body's response through the introduction of small doses of stressful changes to your diet and exercise routine. Intermittent fasting, carb restriction, or a month of a whole food-only diet are often very good ways to change your body fast.

Stuck trying to gain muscle? If you’ve been struggling at the same weight and want to add muscle maybe add a pullup, pushup, or squat challenge every day outside of your normal workout for a month. Start on day one maxing out as many reps as you can in one set and then add small amounts of weight or reps every day for 30 days.

Think in terms of exercise. In the same way mild doses of stress from your workouts make you stronger, begin to think of other ways to challenge your 5 senses.

Try out hormesis this week and see if you get any immediate results that make health exciting again. A week of hot classes? A week of forcing a cold shower every day for 2 mins? A week of no sugar, or drinking water only, or maybe eating all your meals in a 8-hour window.

Who’s first to join me on the cold showers? Haha( this sounds way worse than the intent behind the question.) Now get out there and try some hormesis this week and impress your friends with a new word!

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