In addition to breathing, temperature regulation is one of the most pressing issues for many animals. Thermoregulation is the ability of a person to maintain body temperature. The hypothalamus is part of the brain and plays a vital role in regulating body temperature by acting as an internal thermostat.
The body is an open system, and the internal environment must be protected from the surrounding environment. Simultaneously, it depends on the exchange of oxygen, nutrients, waste, and heat in the surrounding environment. The hypothalamus integrates incoming sensory information. The human body produces heat because of cell metabolism. The heat is absorbed by the blood and carried to the skin, where heat energy is exchanged. This exchange or heat flow is also called thermodynamics.
How Thermoregulation is Achieved?
The mechanism to warm up the body
When the blood vessels under the skin receive the signal, they narrow to reduce blood flow, retain heat, and warm the body. Second, the organs of the body generate heat in many ways to keep the body warm. Finally, the thyroid regulates hormones’ release to increase the body’s metabolism, which produces more heat and maintains a stable temperature in the body.
The mechanism to Cool Down the Body
The sweat glands release sweat that cools the skin as it evaporates. It allows you to lower the internal temperature. Later, in the vasodilation process, the blood vessels under the skin dilate to increase blood flow and release human body heat to cool the blood.
Purpose of Thermoregulation
The human body requires to sustain a constant core temperature of about 37°C to make sure that enzymes are not denatured, and metabolic reactions occur appropriately. Changes in internal temperature can change cell membranes’ permeability by affecting the diffusion of substances in and out of cells.
If the body temperature drops from 37°C to below 35°C, a medical emergency of hypothermia may occur. This condition can lead to brain damage, cardiac arrest.
Ice Bath and Thermoregulation
When exposed to cold environments (such as ice baths), the body works hard to maintain homeostasis and regulate core temperature. It produces more energy to keep it warm and burns calories to generate heat. This, in turn, stimulates the metabolism. Hormones involved in temperature regulation also stimulate the breakdown of heat-related fats such as thyroid hormones, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.
Benefits of an Ice bath
Ice bath triggers cold thermogenesis which is the process of heat production in organisms has countless benefits to the human body. Here is how cold thermogenesis helps the body and mind in the long term.
Ice bath has also been shown to improve the ability to fall asleep, depth and sleep quality. A study found that three-minute whole-body cold exposure can improve the objective and subjective sleep quality of healthy and active people. It may be because of pain relief and parasympathetic activity increase during slow-wave sleep (SWS).
- Brain Health
The degeneration of brain synapses is a common side effect of ageing. It can cause cognitive decline, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. However, cold exposure can promote cold shock proteins, thereby reducing destruction of the brain.
Regular exposure to cold environments (such as ice baths) can also enhance immunity. The cold increases the number of white blood cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes that help fight cancer cells. The production of cold and heat can also enhance immune function by reducing inflammation and allowing the body to recover faster.
Having necessary information and knowledge about thermoregulation and benefits of ice bath will help you make changes in your lifestyle. Contraindications of ice bath includes heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, epilepsy and pregnancy if any of the above relate to you then please consult your doctor before commencing cold exposure.