Category Archives for "Detox"

Nov 27

14 Health Benefits of Saunas

By Ryan Kennedy, CCN, CFMP | Detox , Lifestyle , Weight Loss

Health Benefits of Saunas

Odds are you have heard at one point or another that using saunas can be beneficial for your health.

The sauna industry has greatly expanded in recent years due to increased consumer demand, as a result of the research demonstrating the positive health effects. 

The problem is that it can be difficult for someone to know what type of saunas are best and why, the best temperature, ideal duration, and frequency of usage to maximize the health benefits.

This article will outline 14 proven health benefits of sauna usage and explain what you need to know to maximize your sauna usage.  

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The Four Main Types of Saunas

1. Finnish Sauna

  • Wood paneled, typically cedar.
  • Humidity 50-60 gm H2O vapor
  • Temperature: 158 - 212 degree fahrenheit
  • Typical protocol : 2-3 sessions of 5-20 minutes
  • Do cold immersion, then recover at room temperature, then repeat 2-3 times 

2. Dry Sauna

  • Same as Finnish Sauna without steam 

3. Infrared Sauna

  • Contains incandescent infrared lamps (primarily near & mid infrared) 
  • Typically 120-140 degrees fahrenheit  
  • No Steam 

4. Far Infrared Sauna

  • Far Infrared heaters (primarily far infrared) 
  • Typically 120-140 degrees fahrenheit
  • No steam 

Despite common misconceptions, far infrared actually has the lowest level of tissue penetration and near infrared has the deepest tissue penetration.

Near infrared (IR-A) Saunas are the only infrared saunas that have been shown to penetrate down to the subcutaneous fat layer. 

Sauna Contraindications 

Before getting into all the amazing health benefits of sauna usage, it is important to know the contraindications of those at risk for sauna use.

  1. Pregnant women who have a high-risk pregnancy (potentially safe for uncomplicated pregnancy in women accustomed to sauna usage)
  2. People with severe aortic stenosis
  3. Individuals with major cardiovascular complications  

As with any new therapy, it is important to consult your physician before beginning. 

Start slowly and work your way up. You can do more harm than good, and even experience life threatening situations when saunas are used incorrectly and irresponsibly.

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14 Health Benefits of Sauna Therapy 

1) Induce Detoxification Through Sweat

The skin is one of the three major organs of detoxification

Research has clearly demonstrated the importance of regular sweating for elimination of toxic compounds from the body. (1)

Most toxic compounds were found to be preferentially excreted through sweat over other elimination pathways. (2)

A profound finding in a 2012 study published in the journal of environmental public health demonstrated that high mercury levels normalized with daily sweat therapy (3)

Saunas Detox

Flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) are commonly detected in the environment, humans, and animals. They are typically put into household furniture, mattresses, and various other places which are constantly outgassing and exposing our bodies to these harmful chemicals. These pollutants are increasingly recognized as being very harmful to our health and pose many risks.

A study published in 2017 demonstrated that regular induced perspiration proved to be an effective method for therapeutic elimination of these harmful flame retardant chemicals. (4)

It is no secret that the chemical contaminant Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly associated with adverse effects on human health. It is a problematic toxin which found in our environment and detectable levels are found in humans. This study demonstrates sweating to be a method for elimination of BPA (5)

Another research study has shown that, “Induced perspiration may be useful to facilitate elimination of some potentially toxic phthalate compounds including DEHP and MEHP” (6)

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are organic compounds used in plastics, lubricants, and dielectric fluids. These are commonly detected in our home's, environment, and in humans. Studies have shown that by inducing perspiration we are able to eliminate some of these problematic PCBs from our bodies. (7)

Although I could go on and on showing you study after study demonstrating the detoxification benefits of inducing sweating, I think you get the picture.  

2) Increase your body’s fat burning ability

The evidence is clear have shown sauna therapy can increase the rate of lipolysis (the breakdown of fat cells)

The xenobiotics (foreign substances in the body) in subcutaneous fat pads can be released through the skin (8)

In obese individuals, a short 2 weeks of repeated sauna therapy was shown to significantly decrease body fat and overall body weight. (9)

3) Increases production of heat shock proteins

The heat exposure experienced in sauna therapy increases the production of heat shock proteins which has been shown to have many benefits.   

Increases in heat shock proteins have been shown to be potentially therapeutic in obesity induced insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) (10)

The increased production in heat shock proteins from heat exposure is shown to reduce oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals, which helps to improve muscle recovering post exercise and increase muscle mass. Additionally, the heat shock proteins aid in maintaining healthy glutathione levels (master antioxidant in the body). (11)

4) Balances hormones and increases testosterone

Heat exposure in a Finnish sauna bath was shown to improve hormone balance in a study done on eight healthy young men. Growth hormone and testosterone levels increase, while cortisol levels decreased during 3 periods of heat exposure. (12)

5) Improves cardiovascular health and lowers high blood pressure

Cardiovascular responses from sauna exposure include increased heart rate, 70% increase in cardiac output, increase nitric oxide, 40% decrease in peripheral resistance (lowers high blood pressure), increases blood flow to periphery and decreases flow to the viscera. The study also concluded that the cardiovascular risk related to correctly performed sauna use is very small. (PMID: 3218896) (13)

Sauna users have reduced rates of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, and fatal cardiovascular disease. The frequency of regular saunas inversely related to risk of cardiovascular-related mortality. (14)

Sauna therapy also improved endothelial function in subjects with lifestyle related conditions, suggestive a preventive role in atherosclerosis. (15)

Regular sauna usage was associated with reduced risks of hypertension which is very possibly related to the cardiovascular benefits associated with sauna use. (16)

Although exercise is incredibly important, sauna alone has been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. (17)

"In obese individuals, a short 2 weeks of repeated sauna therapy was shown to significantly decrease body fat and overall body weight."

6) Improved recovery post-exercise and increases stress resilience  

Sauna therapy can help with a reduction in oxidative stress following exercise. Forty three 20 year old men did 30 mins of aerobics followed by either room temperature recovery or recovery in a heated sauna. The subjects who followed exercise with sauna had TBARs (byproduct of oxidative stress) 17.5% lower than those with room temperature rest. Catalase (CAT), an important enzyme in protecting the cell from oxidative damage, had significantly higher activity in sauna group subjects. (18)

Due to the effects on reducing cortisol and helping to balance hormones, sauna usage is associated with balancing the HPA axis. (19)

This study demonstrated a 142% increase in serum growth hormone following a sauna session compared to the control group. This is a very critical hormone for building muscle and burning fat! (20)

Far infrared sauna usage has been shown to aid the neuromuscular system in recovery from maximal endurance performance. (21)

7) Improves athletic performance

In a study done on distance runners, sauna use increased time to exhaustion (running) by 32%, increased plasma volume 7.1%, and increased red blood cell volume 3.5%! (22)

Sauna usage can also increase blood flow to the muscle tissue which would improve nutrient delivery resulting in less glycogen depletion during workouts. This results in an enhanced ability to perform high intensity exercise. (23)

Regular sauna usage has been shown to acclimate the body to heat stress during athletic events and improve the bodies cooling mechanisms. This is an excellent strategy for any athletes who have to complete in warm climates. (24)

Heat exposure can also increase your heart's efficiency to pump blood (increasing stroke volume) which is shown to improve physical performance due to the increase in cardiovascular output. (25)

8)  Improving skin health

Although you may not think exposing yourself to heat will benefit your skin, the research is clear that regular sauna use to have a positive effect on skin physiology, especially skin PH. It also reduces oil on the forehead making sauna use a potential therapy for resolving acne caused from oily skin. (26)

9) Reduces LDL cholesterol levels

The positive effects of sauna therapy can mimic those of moderate intensity exercise including lowering LDL cholesterol and slightly increasing HDL cholesterol. (27)

10) Anti-aging and longevity benefits

Increased usage of sauna therapy has been shown to decrease risks of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all cause mortality!

Frequency of 4-7x weekly demonstrated the most profound risk reduction. (28)

Mild heat exposure has been found to induce anti aging hormetic effects by reducing protein damage and inducing antioxidant and repair mechanisms in the body. (29)

11) Improve symptoms of depression

28 patients with mild depression, general fatigue, and appetite loss underwent 20 far infrared sauna sessions, 5 days per week over 4 weeks. Subjects had significant improvements compared to controls including improved mood, increased hunger, and enhanced ability to relax. (30)

Sauna therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing depression in subjects with cancer and improving overall mood. (31)

12) Reduces Chronic Pain 

Sauna use, when combined with other therapies, can help in managing rheumatoid arthritis.(32)

Regular sauna bathing can also be helpful in managing chronic headaches. This study showed efficacy in reducing headache pain intensity.(33)

Saunas Reduce Pain

Sauna therapy in conjunction with underwater exercise was shown to help improve the pain and symptoms of fibromyalgia patients. (34)

A study done with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis patients showed that all subjects experienced reduced fatigue, decrease in pain, and decrease in stiffness.(35)

13) Improve cognitive performance and brain health

 Moderate to high frequency of sauna bathing is associated with decreased risk of dementia and alzheimer's disease. In a study with 2,315 health men age 42-60 that has follow ups for 20+ years found a significant decrease in the changes of alzheimer's. Sauna use 4-7x weekly was correlated to a 66% decrease in dementia risk and 65% decrease in alzheimer's risk!  (36)

Studies have demonstrated that sauna use can increase norepinephrine levels, which is a hormone that increases focus. (37)

Saunas Improve Brain Health

14) Fight infection and prevention of pneumonia

Raising body temperature has been shown to help kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

The increase in thermal temperature can stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses. (38)

This study demonstrated the effects of heat therapy in regulating the immune system and stimulating epidermal langerhan cells (immune cells of the skin and musca) (39)

Pneumonia is a huge killer in older individuals. A large study looked at 2210 men aged 42-61 over the course of 25.6 years. Those subjects doing sauna usage 2-3 times weekly has a 33% reduced risk of developing pneumonia and subjects doing 4+ sauna session per week has a 44% reduced risk. (40)

Summary 

If you read this far, I bet your ready to go jump in a sauna and start sweating! So the question remains, what type of sauna is best to use.

Studies have shown that the key to achieving these benefits is simply sweating!

Hot boxes work regardless of the heating unit. Weather the sweat is induced by any type of sauna, hot yoga, or simply cranking the heat up in your car, the main takeaway is to expose your body to hot environments that cause it to sweat.

Higher temperature, lower duration sauna exposure is great for cardiovascular issues and stimulating heat shock proteins

Lower temperatures with longer duration is necessary for mobilization of toxicants

No significant difference found in toxicant clearance between sauna heating units

Two advantages of infrared:

  1. It does penetrate to the subcutaneous fat layer
  2. It induces sweating while maintaining a lower temperature in the sauna, so for those who find it difficult to sit in a hot sauna, this heating mechanism may be a better option.

Important points to keep in mind when purchasing a sauna:

  1. A good exhaust fan is very important for proper ventilation
  2. Saunas constructed with non-toxic materials/wood/adhesives so you don’t have chemicals outgassing in your sauna poisoning you as you are trying to detox (what a counter intuitive practice that would be)
  3. Many saunas output a high amount of non-native electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs), so be sure to find a sauna with low levels of EMFs. 

Helpful things to do in conjunction with sauna therapy:

  1. Drink plenty of high-quality water (stay hydrated!)
  2. Exercise prior to sauna use
  3. Stretching/flexibility training during sauna use
  4. Cold shower immediately after leaving the sauna

Many of the toxins that are excreted through sweat can be reabsorbed through the skin if you do not shower after sauna bathing. Cold showers also have additional benefits. 

Sauna usage can be very time efficient as well due to the ability to multitask. While sauna bathing one can read a book, listen to a podcast/audiobook/mp3, meditate, study, stretch, have a conversation, etc.

Read Next: THE 8 BEST HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT) WORKOUTS FOR QUICK & EASY WEIGHT LOSS

Oct 29

10 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic System for Detoxification and Better Health

By Ryan Kennedy, CCN, CFMP | Detox , Lifestyle , Movement & Exercise

Lymphatic system health

What is The Lymphatic System? 

The lymphatic system is a network of blood vessels and lymph nodes that transport lymph fluid throughout the body.

It’s a critical aspect to our immune system and has many functions that aid in our bodies ability to fight infections and disease-causing inflammation.

When your lymphatic system is functioning poorly, you have an increased risk for infections, cancer, and other chronic diseases.  

Lymph vessels, which are smaller than blood vessels, transport lymph fluid throughout the body which contains white blood cells, protein, glucose, and other substances.  

Scientists have demonstrated the importance of the lymphatic system and how it plays a role in chronic inflammation, cancer metastases, and can be a system to utilize as a therapeutic modality to help fight disease. (1) 

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How does the Lymphatic System Work? 

The lymphatic system plays multiple important roles in your body to keep your healthy and maintain homeostasis.

1. Aids in Detoxification

Unless you have been living in a pristine rainforest your entire life, you very likely have been exposed to numerous synthetic chemical in our environment. It’s near impossible to avoid it all, which is why detoxification is such an essential aspect to attaining optimal health.  

Our lymphatic system plays an important role in detox by removing and destroying waste, pathogens, toxins, dead blood cells, and cellular debris that can cause harm to our health if not eliminated.

Phit Tip: Sauna therapy is another great way to aid the body's detoxification ability.

2. Balances Fluid Levels

Lymphatic vessels transport fluid into and out of surrounding tissues in order to avoid excess water retention and swelling.

It also pushes unnecessary or excess fluids out of the body, which can be a way to eliminate waste byproducts that can lead to cellular dysfunction.

3. Transports Fats and Fat-Soluble Nutrients

The Lymphatic system helps our bodies transport fat and fat-soluble nutrients, such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K, from our digestive system to other parts of our bodies where they can then be used by our cells. 

These essentially fatty acids and fat-soluble nutrients are incredibly important for numerous functions within our bodies and we rely on our lymphatic system to aid in delivering these nutrients where they need to go so they can be used.

4. Critical Aspect to Our Immune System and Fighting off Invaders

When bacteria, toxins, or microbes enter our body, they are moved into the lymphatic fluid which is then transported to the lymph nodes.

The lymph nodes is where the the immune system fights particles that are seen as a threatening to the body by bringing in more white blood cells and filtering out harmful bacteria.

This is why you may have experience swollen lymph nodes near the throat or sinuses when you are sick. This is you lymphatic system doing its job and fighting the foreign invader.

There are about 500-600 lymph nodes within the body, and they are critical for filtering the lymphatic fluid of harmful waste and bacterial pathogens. 

"Our lymphatic system plays an important role in detox by removing and destroying waste, pathogens, toxins, dead blood cells, and cellular debris that can cause harm to our health if not eliminated

10 Strategies to Naturally Improve your Lymphatic System Drainage

When your lymphatic system is not working optimally, you can experience many adverse health implications such as inflammation, IBS, cancer, obesity and metabolic syndrome, among many others.(2) 

Here are 10 strategies to improve your lymphatic system:

  1. Jump Around!

Unlike our circulatory system, which has the heart to pump blood, our lymphatic system has no pump. Movement of the body’s musculoskeletal system acts like a pump for our lymphatic system and helps with drainage.

Jumping up and down appears to be one of the most effective forms of movement you can do to benefit your lymphatic function.

Jump roping is a great option for some, but it can be too much impact on the joints for many folks. If that is the case for you, then I recommend jumping on a rebounder (mini trampoline)

Rebounders provide you with the same lymphatic stimulating benefits of jump roping, without all the stress on your joints.(3) 

Since lymph fluid runs mainly vertically, experts believe that jumping up and down can be a more effective exercise for the lymph system than horizontal activities like walking, jogging, or swimming.

Regularly using rebounders is an integral part of healing programs in many natural cancer clinics, since this practice is so helpful for enhancing the immune system and detoxification pathways in order to treat cancer.

Go jump around today! Jumping outdoors in the sun provides even more health benefits.

2. Movement

While jumping may be one of the most ideal exercises for lymph flow, movement in general is absolutely essential for optimizing this system.

People often focus too much on intense exercise, and not enough on movement. Moving your body constantly may be one of the most important things you can do for weight loss, avoiding chronic disease, and living a long, healthy life.(4) 

Any form of movement will stimulate the musculoskeletal system, which will help the lymphatic system. I always recommend finding forms of exercise you enjoy  as this will greatly increase the chances you do it consistently.

Some of our favorites here at Living Phit include: 

  • Surfing
  • Mountain Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Playing Sports
  • Free driving/snorkeling
  • Hiking
  • Stand up paddle boarding
  • Yoga

Find fun activities you can implement into your weekly schedule to ensure you get out moving on a regular basis!

Lymphatic system movement

3. Massage Therapy and Foam Rolling

Getting body work from a massage therapist can really help stimulate lymphatic drainage, which will aid in detoxification.(5) 

Lymphatic drainage massage is a term used to describe a specific type of body work that helps break up lymph congestion.

These types of massages will also aid in flushing excess fluid from within tissues.

It can be helpful to seek out a massage therapist who is trained in manual lymphatic drainage, although any type of deep tissue work can be beneficial.(6)

Using a foam-roller is an excellent form of myofascial release ​(7)  which can greatly help to break up tight tissues that can cause soreness, tightness, and various aches and pains. 

It’s a great habit to incorporate to your life since it doesn’t take very long and is relatively inexpensive. Foam rolling can help improving your lymphatic system the same way a massage would.

One caveat: it can be painful during your foam-rolling session. The idea is simulating a deep tissue massage, which isn’t exactly relaxing. If you can manage through the “good pain” , the end result is well worth it.

4. Deep Breath Work

The power of your breath is often overlooked and underestimated. It’s a bodily function most people take for granted, and few understand the benefits of conscious breathing techniques. 

Deep diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to help move lymph through the body and aid in detoxification of many toxins and waste products.(8)

Making your exhales twice as long as your inhales brings oxygen to the blood which helps activate the lymphatic system.

You can ease into this and work your way up. Here is an example.

Breath in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and breath out for 10 seconds.

Then, increase the time to whatever you can manage and feel comfortable with.

Breath in for 10 seconds, hold for 10 seconds, breath out for 20 seconds.

You can do this breath work seated or lying down. Perform at least 2-3 minutes (more is even better) of deep diaphragmatic breathing once or twice per day.

Phit Tip: Incorporate this breathing technique into a 10 minute morning meditation practice.

5. Stay Hydrated

Your lymph fluid is made up of about 95% water, making water an essential component for its fluidity.

Dehydration is one common cause of lymph congestion, among many other common issues of dehydration.

Drinking enough water is one of the most simple, easy, and important things you can do to improve your overall health and lymphatic system function.

We recommend getting at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day.

Phit TIp: Adding trace mineral drops will alkalize the water and provide even more hydrating and health promoting benefits.

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6. Ditch The Wired Bra 

Ladies this one's for you. Ever take off your bra at the end of the day and see an indented line in your skin where the wire-part rested and wondered if that was harmful?

Well, it certainly is.

One of the largest clusters of lymph nodes are located in the armpit and upper chest area, and those nodes are essential for drainage and detoxification of those tissues.

When your wire bra is too tight, it will restrict lymph drainage and after a long period of time can lead to lymphatic dysfunction and possibly even increase your risk for breast cancer.

Phit Tip: Read “Dressed to Kill” to learn more about this topic. (9)

7. Nutritional supplements

In today's world, certain​ nutritional supplements are essential for optimal health.

Some of these supplements have been shown to benefit the lymphatic system such as:

  • Proteolytic enzymes: These special enzymes can help break up debris and thereby improve lymph flow, among numerous other benefits.
  • Red Clover: This is a commonly used herb to increase lymph flow
  • Milk Thistle: This ayurvedic herb can detoxify tissues and improve lymphatic flow
  • Omega-3 FIsh oils: Omega-3s can help normalize blood viscosity and reduce inflammation which in turn will benefit the lymphatic system.
  • Tumeric: Has also been shown to help by way of its anti-inflammatory properties
  • Burdock Root: This herb can aid in detoxification

Phit Tip: Check out our article on the "5 Essential Nutritional supplements for optimal health”

8. Eat a Healthy Diet

While supplements can certainly be helpful, the foundation and main focus should always be your diet.

Consume ample amounts of non-starchy vegetable, healthy fats, and high-quality proteins.

Avoid or minimize processed foods, refined vegetable oils, fast food, non-fermented soy, factory-farmed and over cooked animal protein, sugar, alcohol, and high-glycemic carbs (starch)

Phit Tip: Check out our list of 105 Alkalizing Foods.

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9. Sauna Therapy 

Sauna usage has been shown to have many health benefits including detoxification and improved circulation.

Increasing blood flow and aiding the body in detox will both help to improve the function of the lymphatic system.

Sauna for lymphatic system health

10. Dry Skin Brushing

This is a technique that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries for boosting circulation and aiding lymph flow.

You simply take a dry skin brush and brush towards the heart, starting with your feet and working your way up.

This practice is best done in the morning right before you should since your body releases and builds up toxins while you sleep.

It will get rid of dead skin cells, stimulate sweat glands, open pores, and help lymph flow. .

As an added benefit, dry skin brushing can help in improving skin health and reducing cellulite.

Make an Effort to Improve your Lymphatic System

As outlined in this article, your lymphatic system is necessary to maintain health throughout your entire body.

Make an effort to implement the 10 tips shared above and you will greatly enhance the function of this important system and as a result, improve your overall health.

Always remember, your health is your greatest asset and dedicating time and resources to optimize it, is time well spent.

Read Next: The 8 Best High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts for Quick & Easy Weight Loss

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