SFH #192: Hormesis
What doesn't kill makes you stronger 💪
You know the saying, 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger?' Well, there's a word that sums it all up, Hormesis.
The term comes from the Greek word meaning "to excite," and it's known as a phenomenon in which a small dose of a harmful substance gives stimulating and beneficial effects to living organisms. In other words, Hormesis is helpful stress. Sounds weird, right? Here are some examples below that will make sense of it.
The most widely recognized example is exercise. Your body needs stress to stimulate muscle growth and tissue repair. So whether you lift weights, run, jump, or do a yoga pose, your cells are taking on a strain that breaks them down so they may rebuild into the 'more resilient and stronger' version that can prepare you for the next dose.
Fasting has surged in popularity more recently in the world of health, most notably the intermittent kind. Hormesis is in action here. Quite simply, fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last consumption of food and begins burning fat. More precisely, this inhibits a cellular process called mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin), thus triggering a cellular cleanup process known as autophagy. Studies demonstrate that this contributes to better cellular health and longevity.1
And my current favorite example is heat and cold exposure. I love my sauna and cold plunge. The effects of thermogenesis are powerful, from boosting 'heat shock' proteins to increasing T-cell (immune cells) count. This daily dose has been my go-to for quite some time now.
The good news is that these hormetic 'good' stressors and more are readily available for you to raise your health game at any moment. Keep in mind that we should be operating with our stress dose in mind. If your cup is filling up with other stressors in your life, start easy or forgo until you are in a relaxed state.
I love all of these practices for helping me become more resilient to life's physical and mental challenges.
Here's Dr. Berg breaking it down with his multimedia presentation 😉