Bloating, acid reflux, cramps, GERD–these are all signs that something is off with our digestive tract. In fact, 60% or more of Americans suffer from digestive disorders or disease. Clearly our guts have gone nuts! Fortunately, we have access to healthier food than ever, plus probiotics, prebiotics, and other supplements. Medical development has improved for more serious GI treatments as well. It follows that, since our gut biome is where 70-80% of our immune strength lies, preventing issues before they start is key. And, while there is still research being done about the health benefits of infrared saunas on digestion, we know the following are 4 ways IR can benefit your biome.
It’s really no joke that saunas put us at ease, even after the most stressful of days. In fact, stress relief is probably in the top three of why you’re considering buying a personal home sauna. The powerful heat penetrates deep beneath the skin, raising your core temperature and inducing a state of calmness brought on by the release of endorphins. However, beyond relaxation, saunas offer potential benefits for digestion related to stress reduction.
When stress levels are high, the body enters a state commonly referred to as the “fight-or-flight” response. During this response, blood flow is redirected from non-essential functions, including digestion, to vital organs and muscles. This reduced blood flow to the digestive organs can lead to issues such as poor nutrient absorption and slower digestion.
Additionally, stress triggers muscle tension, including abdominal muscles surrounding the stomach and intestines. Ever have a stomach cramp or lose your appetite when something stressful happens? Ultimately that anxiety or worry can contribute to discomfort, bloating, and even digestive pain.
Furthermore, stress has been linked to alterations in how your gut functions, which can manifest as gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, when the body is in a relaxed state, the muscles in the digestive tract can contract and relax more easily, so food moves more smoothly through your system.
This is why high stress, which produces cortisol release, can do the opposite, which is to cause weight gain, but we digress. Read on…
As you lay back in your infrared sauna and let go of the day’s tension, beneath your skin your blood vessels will begin to expand, a process known as vasodilation. This vasodilation serves as a cooling mechanism to help regulate your body’s temperature and maintain homeostasis. At the same time, your blood circulation ramps up throughout the body, including in the digestive system.
With improved blood flow, the digestive organs receive more oxygen and nutrients. Adequate oxygen supply is crucial for the proper functioning and performance of cells. So, by increasing blood circulation, infrared saunas facilitate the transport of oxygen-rich blood to the digestive organs, ensuring peak metabolism performance.
Additionally, a well-functioning digestive system ensures that any undigested food, fluids, and older cells get eliminated effectively.
When it comes to promoting detoxification, infrared saunas offer a unique and efficient advantage over traditional saunas by inducing sweating at lower temperatures, creating a more comfortable, tolerable experience.
The detox process begins as the heat penetrates deep into the body, raising your core temperature and activating the sweat glands. As sweat cools the body down it also serves as a method to eliminate certain toxins. These toxins can accumulate over time and potentially impact overall health, including digestive health.
However, we recognize that while sweating is one means of eliminating toxins, your body has multiple critical systems and organs involved in detoxification, such as the liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system. That said, drinking plenty of water is essential for proper elimination and to replenish fluids lost during intense sweating.
As many of our athlete and fitness clients have shared, infrared saunas have a remarkable ability to induce muscle relaxation. More recently we are learning, not only does it benefit larger muscle groups like those associated with sports performance, but the intricate muscles of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This relaxation within the digestive system is significant as it can help with issues such as bloating, cramping, spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and impaired digestion.
Muscle tension in the GI tract can arise due to a variety of factors, including stress, dietary triggers, and underlying conditions. When these muscles become tense, they can constrict or spasm, leading to discomfort and disrupting the normal flow of digestion.
Infrared saunas, by virtue of their ability to raise the core body temperature and promote relaxation, can have a direct impact on the muscles throughout the body, alleviating symptoms associated with digestive issues.
As the scientific community continues to explore the benefits of infrared, we will learn more about its connection to digestive health. However, we have many sources that confirm the outcomes from using infrared are positive contributors to so much beyond relaxation and recovery.