Hormesis is a fascinating biological effect that has revolutionized our understanding of positive stress and how we can harness it. It describes the body's positive response to low doses of stressors that might normally be considered harmful, but in the right dose stimulate powerful regenerative processes, such as autophagy. In this article, you will learn more about Hormesis and how you can use this biological effect to your advantage to improve your health and enhance your performance. At the same time, it is usually not more effective to take too much of a substance, rather the opposite. This is because any hormetic will have its best and safest effect if it is not overdosed.
What is Hormesis? Are hormetic effects healthy?
Hormesis is an evolutionary mechanism that our body has developed to adapt to various stressful situations and become stronger. It works on the principle of "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger". When we expose our body to harmful stimuli on a small and controlled scale, it responds with regeneration and adaptation processes. Thus, controlled stressors can strengthen cells and improve resilience. This promotes longevity, physical performance and cognitive function.
Hormesis can also strengthen the immune system and reduce susceptibility to disease. A balanced hormetic workout can significantly improve health and well-being. So we can talk about healthy stress here, which we feed ourselves with hormetic stimuli. These stressors can come from a variety of sources, including heat, cold, exercise, and even radiation and plant toxins.
Hormetic stress vs. chronic stress
Hormetic stress is not the same as chronic stress. Chronic stress is caused by various factors such as job stress, financial worries, interpersonal conflicts, or health problems, and can have negative effects on health, such as a weakened immune system, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Whereas hormetic stress can be considered a health-promoting tool that builds our resilience, or stress resistance, and can even help us manage chronic stress. Below you will learn about some popular hormetic effects and how to activate them yourself.
Top 4 ways to activate Hormesis
Hormesis is a process in the body that we can use to our advantage. Here you will learn what you can easily try in your everyday life to increase your own stress resistance, but also performance. We'll look at the following ways to activate Hormesis below:
- Activate Hormesis through certain diets
- Activate autophagy & hormesis with fasting - whether it's abstaining from sugar or interval fasting.
- Sports and exercise - from HIIT to yoga
- Thermal Hormesis through sauna, ice bathing and other temperature changes.
Of course, there are other ways to activate Hormesis. But with these four methods you have a good overview of how to activate and use hormetic effects.
1. activate Hormesis through certain foods
Attention: Not everything that is healthy in moderate amounts will also have a healthy effect in large amounts!
In almost everything healthy there is also something unhealthy. In plants, at least in the edible ones, we suspect many health benefits. And that is absolutely right. But there is also "too much of a good thing." Pungent and bitter substances, as well as plant pigments, are the natural wonder weapons of plants against predators, heat, cold, but also UV radiation. These substances fall under the category of secondary plant substances, the consumption of which is actually toxic in excessive quantities. In fact, however, few of us have to worry about suffering from vegetable overdose. Nevertheless, here we have a quite exciting example of how quantity can be crucial.
With each serving of curry, we absorb some of the dye and hormetic curcumin from the turmeric root. This substance has potentially negative effects, such as nausea and bloating, dry mouth and heartburn, rather than positive ones, at higher amounts, i.e., over 4.3 teaspoons a day. But in smaller amounts, this substance works wonders. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects and promotes wound healing. Curcumin can be classified as a hormetic (hormetin), as it has a stimulating effect in low doses and an inhibiting effect in high doses.
2. activate autophagy & hormesis with fasting
Beware of stomach problems or susceptibility to eating disorders in the past!
Fasting has not only a long tradition, but also according to the latest scientific findings, a huge benefit for the body. Of course, it is not healthy not to eat at all, but once you go a long period without eating, you activate autophagy with the help of Hormesis. So, during fasting, we trick our body into thinking that it should switch to survival mode so that it is especially active in renewing our cells. Although interval fasting is a method that fits into everyday life for many, for others it can also mean unnecessary stress in an already hectic daily routine. Fun Fact: the active ingredient spermidine, like fasting, also stimulates autophagy and is a possible alternative for people with sensitive stomach lining and all those who cannot implement healthy fasting in everyday life. You can find a dietary supplement containing spermidine here.
In addition to interval fasting methods, there are also types of fasting that involve abstaining from certain foods such as sugar, saturated fats and trans fats or processed foods. This is because by doing without sugar, trans fats and co, the body experiences a certain amount of stress, as it has to adapt to the lack of a familiar source of energy. This can lead to the body triggering hormetic reactions to better adapt to the changed conditions. This can improve cellular health, stimulate autophagy and strengthen the body's resilience.
3. sports and exercise - from HIIT to yoga
Intense exercise increases nutrient requirements and care should be taken to avoid deficiency symptoms as a result!
Regular exercise provides a form of hormetic stress that makes your body fitter and more resilient. Integrate both endurance and strength training into your fitness program, as this can achieve particularly good results. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts are especially popular among hormesis fans, as they stimulate hormesis effectively and save time. Fun fact: Fasting before training increases hormesis and thus autophagy. However, in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies, a balanced diet should definitely be followed after training as well.
4. thermal hormesis by sauna, ice bathing and other temperature changes
Caution is advised in the case of cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure!
Alternating baths, cold therapy and sauna sessions are ideal ways to create hormetic stress and stimulate your cell regeneration. These methods can improve circulation, reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
Kneipp's cold-warm treatments have been using hormesis to stimulate autophagy in the body since the 19th century. Alternating between cold and warm water strengthens cells, promotes resistance and activates self-cleansing processes. This improves cellular health, is said to make us less susceptible to infections, and contributes to overall well-being. The easiest way to start is with daily cold showers.
So what results can I hope for now?
Those who make frequent use of Hormesis and the healthy stressors mentioned above can not only strengthen their physical resistance to stress symptoms and inflammation, but also become less psychologically vulnerable to stress, in other words, promote resilience. This applies to all types of hormesis activation, whether interval fasting or HIIT training. Targeting moderate stressors can strengthen resilience and promote longevity. This is thanks to autophagy, which is activated by Hormesis and boosts our cell renewal. Also our nutritional supplement Cell Boost also leads to the activation of autophagy. This is due to the spermidine contained in it, the "anti-aging vitamin"to which also Harvard professor Dr. David Sinclair relies on to keep himself young longer.