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Bio-hacking with Cryotherapy

 

 

 

Turning the tap to cold and blasting myself for a few minutes at the end of an otherwise warm and enjoyable shower is a habit I have adopted for some time now. And no, I can’t say I really look forwards to it all that much and yes I know it sounds a bit crazy.

So exactly why do I do this? And why on earth would I then also go visit my friends at cryosauna japan and step into a cryosauna chamber delivering an ambient temperature of -170°C ?

Well, that is the purpose of this blog detailing benefits of cold therapy and more specifically cryotherapy.

Let’s get started.


What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is a treatment administered with a Cryosauna. The cryosauna uses gas from nitrogen to rapidly lower the skin’s top layer to 0°C (32°F) while surrounding temperature drops to a range of -140°C (-​220°F) to -170°C (-274°F).  During two / three minutes of extreme cold, the brain triggers numerous organ regulatory functions that are noted to provide benefits from injury recovery, weight loss, mental boost to anti-aging.

Cold therapy treatments have been around for aeons, but Whole Body Cryotherapy originated in Japan in the late 1970’s by Dr. Yamaguchi who discovered that freezing skin surface provided immediate relief to his patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Yamaguchi and his partner’s ongoing studies concluded that faster short term freezing of the skin’s surface while inside a cryosauna had a raised the effects on the human body by comparison to a gradual cooling provided in other methods (such as a cold shower or ice bath) and thus the modern treatment of the cryotherapy was born.

More recently cryotherapy and cold exposure has become a popularized ‘bio-hacking’ method that has been adopted amongst high profile individuals from athletes.

 


The Science of Cryotherapy

So, is it really possible all these claims could be true? Well, there are numerous studies which are demonstrating the evidence and as with much emerging ‘natural’ therapies, some of which is still debated. One particularly problematic component of scientifically proving cold therapy is the inability to run the scientific standard ‘placebo controlled double blind study’. This is a condition which a control group believes they are receiving a treatment (but not) is matched with results against a group that do. With Cryotherapy there is no sugar pill to give, either the user steps into a cryosauna chamber and experiences the cold therapy or they do not. It is for this reason the science behind cold therapy has been slow to become widely accepted in the scientific community.

Regardless of this, it has not stopped early adopters of the bio-hacking community to embrace the therapy and the numerous direct experience and anecdotal evidence shared by users is difficult to ignore which is what lead me into my own personal exploration of the therapy that I share here.

 


The Benefits of Cryotherapy

There are numerous claims to the benefits of cryotherapy from a depression treatment to even life longevity. I haven’t investigated into these areas and encourage you to explore further beyond the list below, which I have limited to the most commonly noted and scientifically sound benefits.

  • Pain reduction

    As mentioned already, there have been many studies that demonstrate the benefit of cold therapy including those on arthritis sufferers where the treatment was originally developed. This is achieved primarily due to the anti-inflammatory effects and the trigger of release of endorphins in the patients. Additionally ‘topical’ cryotherapy on patients with wisdom teeth extraction showed significant benefit. This was tested in a group of people with dual extractions and applying treatments to one side.

  • Workout recovery 

    After high intensity / endurance activity. Studies have shown that speed of muscle recovery from intense workouts is significantly improved by comparison to those of a control group who were not exposed to the therapy. Cryotherapy is a powerful anti-inflammatory, this is due to cold exposure allowing improved blood circulation (vasodilation) through the muscle groups and into otherwise poorly circulated capillary veins.
    The timing of cold therapy post exercise to maximize the benefits is still debated however, generally speaking the advice is in the window of 1 hour after the exercise (allowing time for muscle repair/rebuild to take place via healthy muscle inflammation) but then within the following 48 hours of the exercise.

  • Mental Clarity 

    By the release of Norepinephrine and adrenaline into the bloodstream. These wonderful and natural body chemicals are commonly experience during a ‘fight or flight’ situation and is aimed at improving your ability to cope with the stress demands of the situation. Cryotherapy is able to artificially stimulate this biochemical response without any real threat of harm and allow us to gain a mental alertness and clarity benefits. The synthetic stresses from our desk jobs that seldom trigger such a biochemical reaction. I personally believe it’s good to experience a shock to the system once in a while.

  • Weight Loss

    Via non-shivering thermogenesis. To vastly oversimplify, this is a process whereby the body’s response to cold exposure speeds up the metabolism in order to regain body temperature and in doing so burns energy from brown adipose tissue (‘brown fat’ stored on the body that is readily consumed for fuel).

  • Skin Revitalisation 

    Achieved through the speed up of metabolism, improved blood circulation and stimulation of an increase in collagen production in the skin.


If you would like to try cryotherapy for yourself and based in Tokyo, please visit my friends at Cryosauna Japan (booking is essential!) to arrange a session.  

They are located at:

Cryomed Japan
La Muse Juban BLDG.
4F, 1-6-5 Azabu Juban
Minato-Ku, Tokyo

If you have the space for it, they can even arrange to install a cryosauna in your own home!

 

 

 

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SPORTS YO-KAN+

This post is about Sports Yo-Kan+ which is a product in Japan manufactured for use with sports as an energy supplement.

Yokan is a traditional Japanese sweet and is thick, jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar. It is usually sold in a block form, and eaten in slices.

Sports Yo-Kan+ is manufactured and packaged for usage with endurance sports and what is great about Sports Yo-Kan+ is it’s flavour and texture by comparison to many other energy gel and fuel supplements designed to be carried during endurance exercise.

The traditionally overly sweet and sticky gel is often hard to get down, isn’t gentle on the stomach and can make a bit of a mess when consuming on the move. Sports Yokan+ provides a solution with the moderately sweet flavourful taste and the nifty packaging that enables you to quickly break the seal and consume without mess or fuss.

Features

  • Includes sustained energy carbohydrates (Maltodextrin palatinose) to support performance with sports
  • The package can be opened by one hand pressing the yokan
  • Azuki (red beans) from Hokkaido and salt from Awajishima is used
  • Traditional Japanese sweets, “Neri-yokan” taste. Sweetness reduced
  • Best when consumed immediately after opening
  • Recommend drinking water together

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 1 bar (30g)

  • Energy 113kcal
  • Protein 1.4g
  • Fat 0.1g
  • Carbohydrate  26.5g
  • Sodium  54mg
  • Kalium  9mg
  • Magnesium 6mg
  • Calcium 13mg

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Asics Meta Run

While attending the Tokyo Marathon expo this year I was browsing the always impressive and giant Asics store, I could not resist myself the urge to try on a pair of the brand spanking new Asics Meta Run ‘concept’ shoe. Like the idiot that I am, I didn’t first look at the price tag that would have otherwise turned me away before trying them out, but once you I had a pair on my feet I was compelled to make a purchase.

Not only did these shoes look understated and stylish, it felt as though they had been somehow magnetically fitted to my feet.

At a price of approximately $250 USD, this latest road running shoe from Asics sports a whole bunch of technology and product features, which I won’t go into here (you can read about that over at the Asics website). But I will say the density of the memory foam in the heel is one obvious feature that brings the comfort level up more than a few notches.

At the time of writing this post I have put around 100km of bitumen running into them and they are holding up like new and I have little doubt that these will be amongst the more highly durable shoes I have owned, at least hopefully I will get enough mileage from them to not feel scorched by the purchase price.

The bottom line is that despite the cost, I am so impressed with them that since I have had them it has been hard for me to cycle through the rest of my runners collection daily routine.

If you have the budget, I cannot imagine you would regret owning a pair.

 

 

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Kentai Pump Up Pre workout formula.

Kentai Pump Up ingredients listSide of box dialogue Kentai Pump Up Front of box and individual packets display.Pump Up Front of box nitric oxide booster. Whatever that is.

 

As I have just landed back in Tokyo, my regular pre-workout formula is still packed in boxes back in Singapore waiting for shipment pending my visa coming through!

I had decided a break from taking any pre-workout before the gym figuring it would do me good and not having it available meant it should be easy for me to avoid the urge to take it. That cute idea lasted exactly zero days when I found this pre-workout formula product on the shelf at my new local Golds Gym . With all the rational thinking of the supplement junkie/geek  I am, I instantly decided I must try this product. I didn’t look at the price until I was paying for it and I noted it wasn’t overly cheap, coming in at 3700 Yen for only 15 individual sachets.

With my Japanese skills practically non-existent, the only way I could tell it was pre-workout is because the only english text on the box was ‘Pump Up pre-workout formula’. I figured this mystery product might have something to do with pre-workout and getting a pump.

The following is a journal of my experience on the product for 5 days.

Day 1.

Now, I’m not allergic to anything I know about yet, so not being able to read the ingredients or having a clue what I was consuming wasn’t going to stop me. However, that confidence expired rapidly as I attempted to swallow down the contents of this sachet of grapefruit flavoured powder demonic bitter gremlin dandruff.

At first attempt I managed to get a solid dose up my nose and on second attempt it went right to the back of my throat and was so dry I thought I might actually choke. A quick gulp of water and I finally managed to get it all down. It had a texture much like how I imagine flavoured cement mix would, so let’s just say it was a bit of an experience. Following that moment of  mortality I might have decided it was actually the adrenaline of a near death experience that got my pump going through that workout and the sense of focus was my gratitude for not being passed out and died in the gym lobby.

Day 2. 

This time I have figured out how to tear the packet to get the actual contents into my mouth without behaving like an uncoordinated idiot (despite the compelling evidence this is actually what I am) and this time expecting the experience of the foul dry powder I was much better prepared and got it down without issue except perhaps a minor grimace at the unpleasant taste.

Day 3. 

I had taken a couple of days off the gym and caught up with my friend who has been translating the contents, I showed her the whole product box this time (rather than the photo of ingredients I had shared earlier) and we were amused as she read some text stating ‘they have taken great efforts’ to improve the flavor of the product. I’m thanking the gods I didn’t have to endure whatever the original gear tasted like.  So anyway, I was back at the gym and today I decided I would try mix the contents into a small bottle of water as an alternative method of consumption. I will never do this again. It looks as bad as it tasted and having to consume it with water only extended the experience. But despite this, I must say I today I was convinced of this product’s merits. I still enjoyed a sense of clarity and a ‘slow burning’ boost for most of all my 1.5hr workout.

Day 4.

Missing the extra kick I am used to with my regular pre-workout mix I took a double espresso shortly before consuming the packet. By now I’m fluent with getting the contents down with a reasonable level of dignity. I think I almost enjoyed consuming it today. The double espresso before hand helped with the kick I was looking for.

Day 5 + Summary.

Following the same pattern as Day 4 with the double espresso to for an added kick and I’m now convinced of the products focusing ability and stamina boost it gives to your work out.  Oh, and by now I’m almost enjoying the bitter grapefruit flavour.

Now, I will continue to consume this box of product but I will say the retail price point of this product at 3700 Yen is a little on the steep side but buying from Gold’s might not be the cheapest. Despite the price point and product flavour taking some getting used too, I did experience first hand the products impact to my workout. I may cycle this with my regular pre-workout mix if and when I manage to find it here in Tokyo!

What pre-workout do you use? Have you tried this product yourself and what were your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!  Also if you have any questions please ask in the comments below!

 

Package Translation

Pre-work out  pump up supplement

  • Composed with 4,500mg of special peptide (per 1 product)
  • Composed with mineral (Zinc) 4mg (per 1 product)
  • Individual packages
  • Grapefruit flavor

Ingredients Summary

Nutrition facts (per 6.3g product) 
Energy 22kcal Carbohydrate 1.6g
Protein 3.8g Sodium 120mg
Fat 0.03g Zinc 4.2g (60)

*( ) Percentage of Nutrition Labelling Standards (%)

Whey peptide 4,000mg   Egg peptide 500mg

Ingredient Details

Amino acid analysis value (per 6.3g product)   in-company research
Arginine 100mg Alanine 300mg
Lysine 340mg Glycine 80mg
Histidine 80mg Proline 140mg
Phenylalanine 160mg Glutamine acid 490mg
Tyrosine 110mg Serine 200mg
Leucine 590mg Threonine 330mg
Isoleucine 260mg Asparagine acid 360mg
Methionine 180mg Tryptophan 50mg
Valine 310mg Cystine 30mg

 

Kentai are a Japanese sports and health manufacturer who manufacture and supplements exclusively to Japanese domestic market. You can browse this and other products at the Kentai Online Store