Nobody likes getting hot.
Being drenched in sweat from head to toe, feeling dehydrated, tired, and miserable is not exactly a pleasant feeling.
The air-conditioning systems in our cars and at our homes speak to this fact.
However, heat therapy can be extremely beneficial for our health.
Regular exposure to controlled heat can help you improve blood circulation, lower stress and pain, strengthen the immune system, and alleviate heart-related issues.
And the advent of saunas, steam rooms, and hot showers speak to this fact.
So, yes getting hot is indeed uncomfortable but if done right, heat therapy can offer you a myriad of real health benefits.
And in this article we are going to discuss one such benefit that has largely been understated in the realm of saunas and steam rooms.
We are talking about proteins, specifically heat-shock proteins.
What are heat-shock proteins?
Simply put, heat-shock proteins are a group of proteins that are regulated when your body is exposed to temperature above the normal growth temperature.
What are these proteins good for?
Well…for starters, heat-shock proteins act as chaperones. They help monitor and assist in folding of proteins.
Having too many unfolded or misfolded proteins can lead to clumping and potential diseases such as Huntington’s Disease.
Heat-shock proteins can also help prevent cell death and strengthen your immune system.
But before we get into all that, let’s first understand what heat-shock proteins are and how sauna therapy can help us regulate them.
What are Heat-Shock Proteins?
Heat-shock proteins come from a family of macromolecular structures.
Discovered in 1960, these proteins have opened new doors in the field of genetics and have helped scientists gain a new perspective on genetics mapping.
The synthesis of heat-shock proteins is a natural phenomenon, which means all plants, animals, and human beings have these proteins in their system.
When you put your body through stress or expose yourself to heat, the heat-shock proteins become active.
They help in maintaining homeostasis, forming new proteins, reactivating misfolded proteins, and work as chaperones to stabilize unfolded proteins and deformed cells.
Think of them as the maintenance officials of your body. They perform maintenance checks on other proteins and make sure everything is running smoothly.
They also help reinstate dead cells and promote healthy protein folding to prevent disorders like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis.
How do you activate shock-proteins in your body?
By exposing your body to stress. This stress can come from heat exposure, exercise, calorie restriction, old age, and even cancer.
When you expose your body to heat in a sauna or a steam room, you cause damage to the cells in your body. This is when heat-shock proteins come in.
They immediately repair those damaged cells by producing large amounts of proteins in your body. The large amount of protein in your body then helps you build tolerance for future stressful scenarios.
Heat-Shock Proteins Benefits
Alright, we have learned about heat-shock proteins and how they work.
Now, it is time to understand how they can be beneficial for you.
Biologically speaking, you get to see a lot of positive effects on your health with the production of heat-shock proteins.
As we have already learned, these groups of proteins help prevent disease-causing mutations, repair damaged cells, and rehabilitate misfolded proteins.
They also help release more growth hormones.
Some other benefits of heat-shock proteins include:
Heat-shock proteins play an important role in cellular protection against various stresses such as ischemia, which is a heat stress that causes irregular flow of blood in your body.
These proteins are also involved in antigen processing and presentation where they act as chaperones for antigenic proteins and peptides.
Essentially, they act as a supervisor for antigenic proteins and peptides and guide them to work efficiently.
According to studies, Hsp70 and Hsp90 (classifications of heat-shock proteins) are associated with antigen development in the body.
Innate Immunity Response
Innate immunity is the defense system with which you were born. It deploys barriers to keep harmful elements from entering the body.
These barriers serve as your body’s first line of defense against any ailment.
Pattern recognition molecules play a crucial role in your innate immune responses. Another group of proteins known as Toll-like receptors help activate dendritic cells (the messengers between innate and adaptive immune system) and induce the release of cytokines (a small protein that plays a vital role in controlling the growth and activity of immune system cells).
That’s a bit too science-y.
Let’s break it down.
It was recently discovered that heat-shock proteins can stimulate dendritic cells and help strengthen your innate immune response.
Heat-shock proteins, released from the damaged cells, can activate dendritic cells at the site of injury and induce the release of cytokines.
Since the innate immune system responds according to the amount of extracellular heat-shock proteins, more damaged cells and more severe stress can result in a more robust immune system.
All of this translates to better health and invulnerability to a number of diseases and conditions.
Adaptive immunity is a subsystem of your immune system. It is composed of specialized systematic cells and processes that work together to eliminate pathogens and prevent their growth.
Recent studies have shown the role of heat-shock proteins in developing the adaptive immune system.
The cellular immune sentinels in your body recognize heat-shock proteins. Such recognition allows heat-shock proteins to mediate immune responses.
What this means is that when you expose yourself to sauna heat regularly, heat-shock proteins are developed in your body, which eventually helps you develop a stronger immune system.
More Benefits of Heat-Shock Proteins
In a study, a few participants were made to sit in a heated chamber.
They were put under high heat (73°C) and then under low temperature (26°C) for 30 minutes each.
The scientists took the blood test of all the participants before and after the exposure and noted an increase in heart rate by 60 percent and a stimulation in blood circulation and nervous system.
Participants who were suffering from diseases like congestive heart issues saw reduced levels of hydroperoxide and BNP levels and an increase in nitric oxide metabolites (which is known to reduce the risk of heart diseases in middle-age people by 66 percent).
The experiment also found that heat exposure increases the level of norepinephrine, which is a protein that helps in rheumatological diseases, muscular dystrophy and other conditions where skeletal muscles are weakened.
Finally, heat-shock proteins also help in relieving chronic pain and depression.
People suffering from depression reported improved appetite and relaxed mood.
Saunas and the Release of Heat-Shock Proteins
Saunas and steam rooms are one of the best ways to produce heat-shock proteins in your body.
Sauna, steam rooms, and other kinds of heat therapy have been used over 100s of years to improve health, keep diseases at bay and strengthen one’s immune system.
Regular sauna or steam room therapy can help you produce heat-shock proteins, which help you in
When you enter a sauna, you are exposing yourself to sudden heat. In order to compensate for the damaged cells, your body starts producing heat-shock proteins.
These little guys then go and repair all the damaged cells and produce a large number of proteins to help you take care of such heat stresses in the future.
Depending on the type of sauna you use, the results might differ.
Traditional Finnish saunas, for instance, provide exposure to temperature between 80-100°C. Infrared saunas, the most modern addition to the sauna world, use infrared heat to directly heat your body instead of heating the air around you.
Infrared saunas cause more stress to your body, which means more shock-proteins and a more robust immune system.
Infrared saunas don’t have any humidity, which means you can enjoy the session for longer periods of time without being uncomfortable.
We hope this article helped you better understand heat-shock proteins and how sauna and steam rooms can help you regulate them.
Heat-shock proteins are a family of proteins that offer numerous benefits for your health.
While you can regulate heat-shock proteins doing other physical activities, some people are unable to make use of these proteins in their body.
People who are suffering from injuries, old age, or other chronic diseases might not be able to work out or lift weights to release heat-shock proteins.
However, they can always sit in a sauna everyday and attain the same benefits.
Moreover, healthy, athletic individuals can also reap the benefits of sauna therapy by exposing themselves to controlled heat regularly.
However, you must be wise about exposing yourself to heat stress or any kind of strain to regulate heat-shock proteins.
Don’t go overboard and know your limits.
Here are a few points to help you make the most out of your sauna experience without going overboard:
In the meantime, if you are looking to install or repair sauna or steam rooms in your residence or commercial space, reach out to us.
We have more than 17 years of experience in installing, repairing, and maintaining world-class saunas and steam rooms for domestic and commercial uses.
Over our extensive experience in the sauna industry, we have worked with designers, homeowners, and developers to design, modify, and develop unique saunas and steam rooms suited for individual requirements.
So, if you are thinking of installing sauna or steam rooms or need help with sauna and steam room repair and maintenance, think Steam and Sauna Experts.