HEALTHY BITE | Hormesis: Intentional Stress to Boost Immune Function

Every week I am going to record a healthy bite, a small snack-sized episode to explore some health advice or what's happening in the media. This week it is about hormesis... is all stress bad? What stress is good and how can you expose yourself to it?

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:06] Hello and welcome to Healthy Bites. My name’s Dr Ron Ehrlich. This is a new segment for this year where we are going to have a short episode which highlights either the podcast of the week past podcast or a story that has come up that I felt I wanted to share with you. I wanted it to be positive. I wanted to be uplifting. I think this is a really important part of our weekly routine to try to do just that. So I hope you enjoy healthy bites.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:41] This week, our episode is about hormesis and hormesis, it’s often I’m often asked, is all stress bad? And the answer is no. There are some intentional stresses which actually boost our immune system and are actually good for us. And examples of that is exercise. Exercise is intentional stress that you undertake that actually puts the body under some stress, but at the same time builds resilience and boosts immune function. And that’s a good thing. Obviously, other forms of hormesis or intentional stress hormetic stress, they’re all the same thing include ice baths, infrared saunas, fasting.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:29] One could even argue that perhaps meditation is intentional stress as well. But this week’s episode, we’re going to be talking to that legend. I think he’s a legend, Deano Gladstone. Now, Deano, I first met Deano at another legend and a lot of legends here, but Aaron McKenzie’s, gym Origin of Energy. I first started working out with Aaron in around, I guess, around 10 years ago. And there were some great people that I got to know in that gym and Deano Gladstone was one of them. And you probably know Dino Gladstone, too, if you’ve been looking at the watching the last 16 episode, 16 years of Bondi Rescue.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:02:15] Now, I grew up in Bondi and to have a show that revolves around the beach where I spend an awful lot of time, Bondi Beach, and not only that but to showcase what I believe is probably the best ambassadors Australia could ever have.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:02:33] I mean, I am just constantly amazed at how good-natured, capable, you know, they all seem to be with people doing some really silly things, and they’re always really respectful and good-natured about it and they save people’s lives. Now, Dino is one of the senior lifeguards in that Bondi rescue show. And we talked a lot about breathing. And it’s ironic in many ways because as a lifeguard, Deano saves his save people’s lives literally through the breath. And breathing is something we give very little thought to. It’s there’s a big but there is a big difference between breathing, just breathing and breathing well, breathing is critical to optimal immune function to helping balance out our body chemistry. And interestingly, breathing can also be used as a form of intentional stress. And this references the work of Wim Hof a Dutchman who has made a huge reputation for himself by literally rewriting the physiological textbooks about what is actually a human he’s capable of. He’s I think he’s scaled Mount Everest in his shorts. He’s been in the ice for an hour or more at a time. I mean, he’s done things which apparently aren’t possible, but he’s done them by controlling his body’s physiology. And he’s done that through breath and through meditation. And so Deano’s episode explores that. And Deanos is training people and runs courses on this very topic. And I started this with my partner in the dental surgery, my nephew, Dr Lewis Erhlich. And we visited Deano in December of 2020 and went in for my first ever ice bath. Now I hate cold water, so this was very confronting for me. But Deano ran us through some breathing exercises and then also we hopped into an ice bath or we individually hopped in. We took out turns hopping into an ice bath that was two degrees and we stayed in there. My first effort there was around two and a half to three minutes. And since then, Lewis and I, with some others, have regularly met on a Saturday morning at Lewis’s place and also gone through those breathing techniques and the ice baths. And it’s been a really empowering and very interesting thing. And it’s going to be a theme that I’m going to be exploring more this year, and that is using intentional stress in various forms to build resilience and immune function. So is all stress bad? No, it’s not. Here is an example of using breathing in a stressful way, intentionally stressing our system by. Using a particular breathing technique and then also getting into an ice bath to again challenge our body and build resilience, and I’ve really enjoyed doing that.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:05:52] So this week’s theme is about that. And to realize that not all stress is bad for some intentional stress. So I hope this finds you well. I hope you enjoy your week.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:06:05] I hope you enjoy this week’s episodes. And until then, this is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be Well,.


 This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences and conclusions.