Reduce your Cholesterol with Cryotherapy
Cholesterol often gets a bad rap, however we all need a certain amount of cholesterol for our bodies to stay healthy. Cholesterol is essential for making cell membranes, structures and is also required for the synthesis of hormones, Vitamin D and substances that assist in the digestion of foods. There are three different types of cholesterol, high density lipoproteins, low density lipoproteins and very low-density lipoproteins. Cholesterol is transported around the body whilst contained in these lipoproteins which are comprised of fat and proteins (NHS., 2019).
- HDL- high density lipoprotein, is often referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to the liver, where it is then removed from the body.
- LDL- low density lipoprotein. When we have too much of this type we can develop plaque inside our arteries which can increase the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks.
- VLDL- very low density lipoprotein also contributes to the build up of plaque inside the arteries. However, VLDL differ from LDL in that they carry triglycerides whereas LDL mainly carries cholesterol.
High cholesterol can occur through poor lifestyle habits. These include unhealthy eating, including lots of processes meats, foods high in saturated fats and fried foods. Eating these foods can increase the level of LDL cholesterol. Additionally, a lack of physical activity combined with a sedentary lifestyle lowers your HDL increasing the risk of high cholesterol. Smoking, obesity and high stress levels are other risk factors increasing LDL and lowering HDL. It is also important to acknowledge some individuals are genetically predisposed to having a high cholesterol. Other conditions which was increase cholesterol include diabetes, pregnancy, underactive thyroid or polycystic ovarian syndrome, but it is equally important for these population groups to follow healthy lifetsyle practices, which can help to manage their cholesterol levels (NHS., 2019).
Where does Cryotherapy fit in?
A recent study has found that 10 treatments of whole-body cryotherapy along with following healthy lifetsyle habits successfully lowered LDL whilst increasing HDL. Subjects who received less than 10 treatments did not show any improvement in their cholesterol levels. This early research is showing that whole body cryotherapy treatment can have beneficial influences on lipid profiles (Lubkowska et al., 2010).
As the body is exposed to the cold temperature, the body attempts to produce heat to maintain the balance between heat and loss. This cold induced thermoregulation is associated with an increase in lipid metabolism (Vallerand & Jacobs., 1989). The energy expenditure associated with the additional heat production, affects cholesterol metabolism in the body.
The preliminary study demonstrated that the use of 5 treatments did not affect the lipid profile of the examined individuals, while 10 stimulations induced a significant reduction in triglycerides. The extension to 20 cryotherapy sessions significantly altered the lipid profile in healthy subjects, reducing LDL and triglycerides, and increased HDL.
In addition, during cryotherapy the endocrine releases endorphins and nor adrenaline, this gives an individual a release of ‘feel good’ hormones into the blood stream, which can lead to reductions in stress and cortisol levels. These physiological changes from a whole-body cryotherapy session have been shown to help in reducing chronic inflammation (Bettoni et al., 2013). Over time this reduction in stress and cortisol could indirectly to assist with reducing cholesterol.
The preliminary findings suggest that cryotherapy may be a useful adjunct treatment along with other healthy lifetsyle habits to help assist in the reduction of high cholesterol. The current research shows promise in that 10 sessions is the minimum to support beneficial changes, with 20 sessions being optimal.