When you dress, do you choose to be cool or cozy?
People choose cool for reasons such as avoiding perspiration, feeling unrestricted, or looking slim. Cozy clothing makes people look heavier. Sometimes they want to avoid having body odor or they don’t feel so restricted. If you were brought up with an “Energy Shortage” or expensive heating bills, possibly feeling cold might be associated with “doing the right thing”? On the other hand, people often dress cozy, wearing extra layers, because they want to feel cozy and don’t care about all this other complexity.
I recently researched the effect of keeping the sinuses and lungs warm as it relates to the common cold based on research by Dr. Chan in Hong Kong.1 I was surprised to discover that simply keeping the arms and legs closer to the core body temperature of 97-98F has a dramatic effect of enhancing immune response in lungs and sinuses.
The principal conclusion is that, while our grandmothers understood the importance of keeping the body cozy, modern medicine often separates the role of pharmaceuticals to fix the body from the effect of the body’s ability to heal itself. Thus, the system has largely ignored the role of peripheral body temperature in health and well-being. Also, the news we read and the advertising we are exposed to is often driven by selling something. This means there is not financial benefit to providing grandmotherly advice like “if your legs or feet are cold, put on some more clothes or a blanket.” The fact is that corporations make more money if you don’t pursue optimal health on your own because then you are more likely to need what they sell.
What can you do to make yourself cozier while improving your health, driving out illness, and enhancing your overall human experience?
We will some ways pursue cozy:
- Cozy therapy: Wear more clothing and add a blanket: This means getting used to your arms and legs being a little warmer all the time, and maybe perspiring a little at peak exertion times.
- Cozy Vigilance: maintaining cozy body temperature while in doctor’s waiting rooms, airplanes, and hotel rooms. It also means putting on an extra layer when going from the hot humid outdoors into cold air-conditioned shops, restaurants, and buildings. This is especially if you are acting as an advocate for a hospitalized patient. Hospital rooms are often cold and don’t provide enough blankets to maintain cozy, especially for older patients who have a lower metabolic rate.
Cozy Therapy: Simply dressing warmer appears to have major implications toward immune response, particularly relating to the lungs and sinuses. This is especially true during the winter months when cold temperatures and low humidity cause airborne viruses to live much longer and travel much further than during warmer months. For most of us, this takes a little getting used to. Warmer clothing restricts our movement, makes us look heavier, and can be troublesome as we move between outdoors, colder spaces, and warmer spaces. Convenience often leads us to wear the minimum practical amount of clothing, putting on a jacket when we go outside.
The human body is an amazing all-terrain vehicle that can survive most anywhere. There is something exhilarating about being a survivor, being able to take it. As our bodies are exposed to colder and colder temperatures, our circulation is automatically adjusted to keep our core body temperature at a constant temperature. First, our lower legs and arms get colder as capillaries constrict. Then upper legs and arms begin to cool, and hands and feet become noticeably cold. We are likely to start shivering to help generate some extra heat. We may also notice our nose feeling colder as well. Blood flow is also often restricted to the lungs to reduce heat loss including loss of moisture from the lung tissue. Our bodies do this automatically to allow us to be the best all-terrain vehicles that we can be.
This automatic restricting of capillaries comes at a price. It reduces the efficiency of immune functions and metabolic cleansing throughout the body as well as slowing the rate of healing from illness and injuries. This means that, when your capillaries are contracted your recovery from colds, cancer, and metabolic illnesses will be slower, or stop. You can choose to assist this automatic body thermostat for optimal health by engaging in Cozy Therapy. This principally involves choosing to teach ourselves the habit of being warmer. As you may know if you have ever tried to stop eating baked goods, drinking alcohol, or getting angry, the body is often highly resistant to learning new habits. It takes practice and repetition. It also takes being willing to forgo the slim look in favor of the bundled-up look. You might just look in the mirror and see someone who doesn’t look like you.
“Summary: Most human rhinovirus, the common cold virus, replicate more robustly at the cool temperatures found in the nasal cavity (33–35 °C) (91–95 °F) than at core body temperature (37 °C). Mouse airway cells infected with mouse-adapted rhinovirus 1B showed a much stronger antiviral defense response at 37 °C relative to 33 °C.”
Sepsis is a major cause of mortality in hospitals. Here is another example of the benefit of dressing warmly: Patients with severe sepsis) who had hypothermia (core body temperature below 35.5°C 95 96°F on admission to the hospital had significantly higher 28-day and hospital mortality rates (38.1%) than those without hypothermia (17.9%)2 2
The Mayo Clinic reports: “Cold environment makes cancer grow and spread faster” … “A cold environment, which is known to induce suppression of the anti-tumor immune response, was found to encourage cancer growth in an animal study. 1 In most animal experiments the mice tend to be housed in colder-than-normal temperatures. The team compared cancer progression and metastasis in mice housed at 22°C (72°F) and 30°C (86°F). They found that several types of cancers, including those of the pancreas, colon, skin and breast developed more rapidly and started spreading earlier and more aggressively in the colder environment. The tumors grew more rapidly even in the mice that were used to cold temperatures – ones that had lived in the cold from the day they were born.” 3
What can you do to make yourself cozier while improving your health, driving out illness, and enhancing your overall human experience? It’s simple. Whenever your hands or feet are the least bit cold, put on more clothing or add a blanket. You might wear clothing that can be zipped or adjusted for temperature. Largely, it is a choice to sometimes be a little warmer than cozy over choosing to be a little cooler than cozy.
The rewards are both a gradual accumulation of health as your body functions more efficiently and builds a storehouse of metabolic well-being, and a rather rapid improvement in health during cold and flu season. In the long term, you are likely to see a gradual improvement in health if you are facing a chronic illness.
Medical research shows us that the value of Cozy therapy extends to many forms of chronic illness. First, here’s how Cozy Therapy affects immune response, and cancer in particular:
“To address the basic question of whether tumor growth is influenced by ambient temperature, we compared tumor formation and growth rate in several widely used research mice housed at either standard temperature (ST; ∼22–23 °C) (72-73 °F) shown as the blue (cold) line in the graphs below or at thermoneutral temperature (TT; 30– 31°C) ) (86-88 °F) (.shown as the red (warm) line. 4 (as shown below)
This shows that T cells (immune cells) are more effective when the body is warmer (red line). The blue line shows that tumor growth was much more rapid at lower body temperature. The scientists, from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, explained that although both sets of mice had the same number of T cells before they developed cancer, the T cells in the animals housed in a warm environment were much faster and better able to burrow into the tumor to destroy it. The T cells in the warm mice also secreted higher quantities of anti-cancer substances compared to those in the cold mice. Bodies of the mice in the cold environment were much more likely to accept the tumor than to fight it.5
Cozy Vigilance: How can we apply the principles of Cozy Therapy to help others? This includes those who are exposed to cold temperatures in hotels, during travel, in cold doctors’ offices and hospitals. As the name implies, it requires that we pay attention when we or others wind up in an environment which is cold or drafty for extended periods. Many, including health workers, do not know about the importance of keeping lungs and sinuses warm by keeping arms and legs warm. This means we often find ourselves needing to provide education, which is why so many studies have been provided above and below. You might keep the link to this report for future reference or email it to yourself or others who need it. Perhaps you might cut and paste relevant studies to send to those who need greater education before they will allow more blankets, adjustment of thermostats, closing of windows or whatever is required to keep the person warm and cozy.
Here are some of the most medically documented examples of why Cozy Vigilance is important:
In a retrospective study, researchers analyzed data from 1,525 hip replacement patients it was found that 13.6% suffered unintentional hypothermia during surgery. The odds of deep surgical site infections were 3.3 times higher in these patients who developed hypothermia during surgery than those who did not.6
A major cause of hypothermia during surgery appears to be because doctors and nurses get hot under stress and hot lights, and with all the rush during surgeries. For their comfort, the surgical room is kept quite cold. Usually the patient’s peripheral temperature is depressed. However, in the rush, sometimes the patient’s core body temperature drops unnoticed.7
This can be a big problem if they don’t pay close attention to the temperature of the patient. Hospital room personnel need to learn that maintaining normal peripheral body temperature in addition to core body temperature is very important for hospital outcomes.8
While the above problem of low core body temperature has been studied extensively, as shown in the above studies, the problem of peripheral low body temperature has apparently not been studied by the University researchers. This is probably because modern medicine holds that the core temperature is the body temperature, and the peripheral temperature of skin, sinuses, and lungs is generally considered to be an inaccurate measure of core body temperature. It is not generally considered relevant to quality health care.
What happens when a patient is left with a sleeping pill and with insufficient blankets? As the person falls to sleep the heat production and body temperature decrease. While core metabolic temperature may stay within or close to the “normal” range, the arms, legs, and surface fascia can get cold along with the sinuses and lungs. This allows a variety of opportunistic infections like the flu to multiply more rapidly all night long. This can prolong illness and cause pneumonia and other infections to get worse and worse. This is particularly troublesome for the elderly who already have a very low metabolism and get cold very easily. Could it be that a lack of blankets is a major cause of mortality in hospitals?
It is clear the role of peripheral body temperature needs immediate investigation. Until then, it will be up to patient advocates to be sure patients remain warm during their hospital stays.
Engage your Tribe, share your questions, thoughts and ideas in the comment section below!