It’s well-established that periodic cold exposure can have positive effects on human health. Whether you’re exercising in cold weather or taking a plunge in an ice bath, the chill can help boost your mood, improve your sleep, or reduce inflammation. These benefits are due, in part, to cold shock proteins. Read on to learn what they are and what they do.
What Are Cold Shock Proteins?
Cold shock proteins are stress proteins that are activated by cold exposure. They’ve been reported in a wide range of organisms, from bacteria to amphibians to humans. A major function of these proteins is to help organisms cope with cold stress and adapt to changing environments.
In humans, scientists have identified a long list of cold shock proteins. Let’s take a look at some of the main cold shock proteins in your body, including what they do and their potential benefits.
Y-box binding protein (YB-1)is one cold shock protein that’s best described in the scientific literature. It’s also known as DNA binding protein B (DbpB).
This cold shock protein plays important roles in the body. It promotes wound healing and helps the body form scar tissue. It also plays a role in the immune response by helping draw immune cells to sites of inflammation.
Lin28A and Lin28B are two related cold shock proteins with similar functions. These proteins may help regulate glucose metabolism—the process of breaking down the sugars found in foods to produce energy.
Like YB-1, these proteins could help support wound healing and recovery: In models of tissue injury, activating Lin28A has been shown to encourage the regrowth of cartilage and bone.
RNA-binding motif protein 3 (RBM3) is a cold shock protein that may have neuroprotective effects, meaning it might help prevent damage to the brain. In a recent study, researchers discovered higher levels of RBM3 were associated with good outcomes in stroke patients.
This protein may also offer benefits to the muscles. According to researchers, RBM3 appears to help the body maintain muscle mass at times when the muscles aren’t being used. This means it might be helpful for athletes who are taking some time away from workouts and competitions.
Cold-inducible RNA-binding protein (CIRP) is an important cold shock protein that may play a variety of roles in the body. It can decrease inflammation and help promote wound healing, and like RBM3, it may help protect muscle mass during periods of disuse.
This cold shock protein may also play a role in regulating the circadian rhythm. Better known as the biological clock, the circadian rhythm is the internal 24-hour cycle that influences everything from eating habits to sleep patterns. People who use cold water immersion to improve their sleep may benefit from this protein.
Other Cold Shock Proteins
Other cold shock proteins have also been identified, but since this is an emerging area of research, scientists don’t know as much about them. Some of these lesser-understood cold shock proteins are described below.
Limited information about this protein is available, but scientists know PIPPin is a brain-specific cold shock protein that interacts with other cold shock proteins.
Cold shock domain-containing E1 (CSDE1) is another protein that needs further study. A recent study suggests that CSDE1 helps regulate a receptor that plays a critical role in controlling the amount of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
Also known as YB-2, this protein is a relative of the more well-understood YB-1. Scientists know that it’s expressed in a few tissues, including the heart, blood vessels, and muscles, but more research is needed to determine what it does.
Calcium-regulated heat-stable protein 1 (CARHSP1) is another member of the cold shock protein family. One of its roles is to stabilize tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a protein that causes inflammation.
How to Activate Your Cold Shock Proteins
Move Your Workout Outdoors
Exercising outdoors in cold weather can leave you feeling chilly, but it could also activate your cold shock proteins. Try replacing some of your regular indoor workouts with outdoor sessions.
Take a Cold Shower
Cold showers aren’t just a great way to wake yourself up in the morning: They could also help you activate your cold shock proteins. To reap the potential benefits of cold showers, make sure the water temperature is below 70°F (21°C).
Soak in Cold Water
Cold water immersion can be even more effective than cold showers. This option makes it possible to submerge your whole body in cold water rather than just the parts of your body that are in the path of the cold water jets. Plus, adding ice helps you achieve colder water temperatures than are possible from the tap.
Activate Cold Shock Proteins With Ice Barrel
There are many potential benefits associated with cold shock proteins, and Ice Barrel makes it easy to make cold exposure part of your routine. This cold therapy training tool allows you to sit in a comfortable, upright position, and since it’s portable and compact, you can use it in many areas of your home. Take the plunge today!
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