Why hack your biology?
Millions of people are hacking their biology to experience suffering. Pain is on the forefront of the experience, that the obstacle courses and boot camps out there are catering for now.
How did pain become a luxury good? Can it be that there is a specific sort of pain that can serve as a hidden evolutionary function? This movement is not a fad. There have always been people who have straddled the line between biology and technology. Ancient Spartan Warriors soldiers wore simple cloaks and no shoes, regardless of the weather. They believed exposure made them stronger. Mystic and Monks endured months or years in Himalayan peaks just in robes and daily to meditation as their only protection. Native Americans wore loincloths during Icey winters.
The people who decide to abandon that comfort for some of the rawness of nature represent an indigenous ethos that has almost been wiped out by a societal desire for comfort. If they embrace the way their bodies respond to the natural world, they can unlock a hidden wellspring of animal strength.
Today tens of thousands of people are discovering that the environment contains hidden tools for hacking the nervous system. People are not super-human, but they start to become more in control of their own system – they become more human.
For over half a century, conventional wisdom about maintaining good health was resting on the twin pillars of diet and exercise.
But focusing on just those two things may not be enough, according to a theory investigated (and experienced) by journalist and anthropologist Scott Carney in his recent book “What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength.”
While these two pillars are vital, there is an equal and completely ignored third pillar. By incorporating environmental training into your routine, you will achieve big results in very little time. It only takes a matter of weeks for the human body to acclimatise to a dazzling array of conditions. E.g. increased production of red blood cells at altitude, sweating fewer salts after acclimatising to a hotter environment and produce lower amounts of urine.
In his book, Carney investigates the idea that incorporating some environmental challenges back into our lives could lead to health benefits. He embarks on a journey to see if “environmental conditioning” — guided by the Dutchman Wim Hof, who goes by the nickname “Iceman” — can help him unlock new levels of fitness.
The idea behind environmental conditioning is the same, as Carney describes it:
“Anatomically modern humans have lived on the planet for almost 200,000 years. That means your office-mate who sits on a rolling chair behind fluorescent lights all day has pretty much the same basic body as the prehistoric caveman who made spear points out of flint to hunt antelope. To get from there to here humans faced countless challenges as we fled predators, froze in snowstorms, sought shelter from the rain, hunted and gathered our food, and continued breathing despite suffocating heat. Until very recently there was never time a when comfort could be taken for granted — there was always a balance between the effort we expended and the downtime we earned. For the bulk of that time, we managed these feats without even a shred of what anyone today would consider modern technology. Instead, we had to be strong to survive.”
Supercharge Your Brown Fat to Battle Obesity
For most people, “fat,” particularly the kind that bulges under the skin, is a four-letter word. It makes our tummy shake, thighs jiggle, arms wobble, chin flap and our desire for it sexual contact less appealing; it lingers despite our torturous attempts to eliminate it. Too much fat increases our risk for heart disease and type-2 diabetes it’s one major reason why well over half of our nation's adult population are overweight or obese? (1)
By 2025, it is estimated that 70 percent of Australia's population will be obese or overweight.
The cost to our country is near the Trillion mark each year and the indirect or “hidden” costs of obesity are not just the early onset of illness and death, but also the huge loss in productivity and performance.
In 2011/12, Australians spent an estimated $368 million on weight loss intervention, including bariatric procedures.
For decades’ researchers have looked for ways to reduce our collective stores of fat because they seemed to do more harm than good.
In the late 2000s, several research groups independently discovered something that shattered the consensus about the absolute dangers of body fat. Scientists discovered that humans produce at least two types of fat tissue—white and brown. Each white fat cell stores energy in the form of a single large, oily droplet but is otherwise relatively inert. In contrast, brown fat cells contain many smaller droplets, as well as chestnut-colored molecular machines known as mitochondria. These organelles, in turn, burn up the droplets to generate heat.
Why Is Brown Fat Important?
Deposits of brown fat are in the neck and around the shoulders in babies to control their temperature but, it diminished as we age. Findings concluded that brown fat is hard to find and maintain in humans to have any impact on the obese but and the easiest way to get brown fat warmed up and going is to expose people to low temperatures, which as you can image diminishes brown fat's appeal as a weight-loss tool. Scientists have found a way that fat may become an important ally in the fight against obesity.
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