The Many Benefits Behind Sauna Use & Sweating Out Toxins
Let’s talk about sweating 🥵
I’m so excited to write about this topic because it has been so impactful in my life. When it comes to health & wellness, I tend to lean towards activities & therapies that have an “obvious” component to them. Meaning, does the thing I am doing just make sense from a logical standpoint? Sweating is at the top of that list. Let’s dive in!
There are 3 primary ways the human body has to get rid of harmful toxins and waste. The first you are very familiar with is your poop. Food comes in through the mouth, travels through your digestive tract, is broken down & then excreted through your stool. The 2nd is through your urine (peeing). The 3rd is your skin. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It is soft enough to allow movement but still tough enough to resist breaking or tearing.
Your skin has many functions including; being the first line of defense against dangerous bacteria and other pathogens, a sensory organ providing information about pain, pleasure, and temperature and lastly being a cooling system for your body via sweat.
What exactly is Sweat?
Sweat (also referred to as perspiration) is a watery fluid that is produced by the glands in your skin. It is composed primarily of 99% water with the other 1% being a mixture of lipids (fat), urea, ammonia, and salts (Sodium chloride & potassium). I’m sure you’ve noticed that your sweat has a sort of salty taste to it. This is due to the excreted salts.
Sweating is a natural physiological process that helps you cool down when it becomes too hot. Other reasons we sweat are due to stress & consuming spicy foods. We sweat when we’re stressed due to our bodies releasing adrenaline via our adrenal glands. This increases our heart rates and prepares the body to respond to a threat. We sweat when we eat spicy foods due to the ingredient known as capsaicin. This ingredient tricks the temperature-sensitive areas of your mouth into thinking it’s too hot so the body begins to sweat.
Main Benefits of Sweating
Back in the day before humans upgraded our living standards, we used to sweat A LOT! This sweating is a natural reaction that should be appreciated as it’s our body’s natural way of keeping our inner homes running smoothly. But in modern society, sweating is pretty nasty. No one wants to be dripping sweat from their armpits or their butt parts casually on a Tuesday while at work. This is why we invented things like air conditioning and antiperspirants to negate these natural tendencies.
This is why we need to PURPOSEFULLY make time to sweat to activate our biological nature to regulate the body. Beyond simply detoxing, let’s talk about why sweating is so good for you.
1 – Improved Cardiovascular Health ( Hubrerman Lab). A paper done by Laukkanten et. Al found that through regular sauna use, participants reduced their risk of cardiovascular events & strokes that led to death. This paper found that increasing both the frequency and length of sauna sessions decreased the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease (3).
2 – Reduction in “All Purpose Mortality.” – I was blown away when I first heard about the famous Finnish study that was done looking at the frequency of sauna usage. This study was set up to investigate the association of frequency and duration of sauna bathing with the risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. It was found that sauna bathing 2 to 3 times per week was associated with a 24 percent lower risk and 4 to 7 times per week with a 40 percent reduction in risk compared to only one sauna session per week.
3 – Increased Stress Response & overall Health – My grandpa used to semi-brag to us kids that when he was a child, he sometimes had to sleep on the roof with just a blanket since they didn’t have space anywhere to sleep. He said sometimes he’d wake up with snow on him. He attributes never getting sick to this early adversity his body had to adapt to. This coincides with how In Scandinavia, it is commonplace for parents to purposefully choose to leave their children outside (wrapped up) to nap in the cold. This Finnish study showed the babies took longer and deeper naps outside, had better appetites and were more active after the cold nap.
The reason I mentioned these stories is that the same principle exists with heat exposure as does cold exposure. The more we expose our body to the various elements, the more we activate DNA pathways and increase our resilience to disease and pathogens.
Routine sweating will lead to the following
1 – Healthier & Vibrant Skin – Whether you are exercising or using a sauna, increasing your core temperature (resulting in sweating) will improve your body’s blood flow which allows oxygen and nutrients to circulate and nourish your skin cells. This results in more vibrant, glowing skin.
2 – Decreases Inflammation – When we sweat, our heart rate speeds up which increases blood flow resulting in the creation of “heat-shock proteins.” These proteins are responsible for repairing old and creating new, healthier proteins which studies have shown can have a direct effect in combating inflammation.
3 – Detoxing Heavy Metals – As we discussed, Sweat is 99% water. Meaning, that the concentration of heavy metals detected in sweat is extremely low. The liver and kidneys remove far more toxins than sweat glands do. Although, due to all the reasons we listed above, there may be an argument that the downstream effect sweating has may help increase the efficiency of the liver and kidneys to be able to more effectively detox heavy metals from the system.
This study mentioned that “Sweating offers potential and deserves consideration, to assist with removal of toxic elements from the body.” It should be noted that people with dangerously high levels of heavy metals in their system will need prescription medicine for effective removal. Overall, more studies will need to be done to further investigate the body’s ability to detox physical heavy metals during routine sauna sweating/sauna protocols.
Best Ways To Sweat
Now I’d love to tell everyone they should all get in a sauna every day to induce sweating but it is simply unrealistic due to high costs, maintenance, and space requirements. That is why to kick off this discussion I want to highlight the most obvious and convenient way to induce sweating, exercise.
Everyone sweats differently, some people can walk for 5 minutes and they are dripping sweat while others can run for an hour and they are clean as a whistle. For the most part, increasing your heart rate for an extended period will cause your body temperature to rise which will trigger your sweating mechanisms to cool down your body.
Everyone should focus on getting at a minimum, 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week for all the reasons we listed above. If you can’t do 30 minutes, start with brief, brisk walks around the park to build up the muscles needed to safely be able to do heavier forms of cardio. NOTE: You may have heard that people can eat whatever they want in Europe and not get fat, but you rarely hear people mention that they tend to walk everywhere they go, hence burning more fat and increasing cardio 😉
The different types of Saunas
3 main types of Saunas exist today. Each one has different properties and things to consider in terms of space requirements and precautions to acknowledge.
1 – Traditional Sauna – This is what is most common in public spaces like gyms, apartment buildings & expensive homes. A traditional dry sauna will achieve temperatures as high as 195 degrees Fahrenheit. This is tough for someone not familiar with heat exposure to walk into for the first time. These saunas create benefits from heating the air through a stove. As the air temperature increases, the body follows suit. This causes your body to try and “cool down” the body by increasing blood flow to the skin and initiating sweating. These saunas are typically the most expensive to heat up and more expensive to own and maintain.
2 – Steam Saunas – These saunas utilize wet heat which has different benefits/sensations as opposed to a dry sauna. Wet heat is known to open up your airways and thin out the mucus membranes in your body which may help alleviate congestion while improving respiratory strength. Other benefits include removing blackheads, toxins, and impurities on the skin, and weight loss (likely due to the sweating component). Steam saunas are also very expensive as stand-alone units. I have known friends who fully seal off their shower and make a DIY steam sauna which is pretty neat. Personally, this is my least favorite form of sauna due to the vapor that gets in my eyes and the overall moisture overload.
3 – Infrared Sauna – Last but not least, the infrared sauna. A far infrared sauna is different from a conventional sauna because the far infrared wavelengths directly penetrate your body and do not heat up the air to the same degree by convection as in a conventional sauna. These rays penetrate the skin up to a few inches which results in a lot of sweating with an increased heart rate
Another benefit I see with my infrared sauna is that the increased heart rate will display as a moderate cardio session via my Whoop device (Pretty cool to get your “run” in without having to run!). Jokes aside, a sauna should never replace your cardio but be a supplement after a long day. A major benefit of Infrared saunas is that they only go up to 149 degrees making them less intense for most people. They also use far less electricity and are much more easy to maintain. This is why I always recommend this route to all my clients and friends as it’s just a more enjoyable experience.
Things To Consider When Purchasing an Infrared Sauna
An Infrared Sauna is a wonderful, sweaty escape but with great detoxing comes great responsibility. When I first started looking for saunas, I had a lot of concerns about the idea of putting myself into a human-sized microwave every day. Therefore, I got to the bottom of how to avoid this scenario and enjoy a sauna in the safest way possible. The 2 things I learned that are most important to look out for are EMFs (ElectroMagnetic Fields) & VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Later, I’ll share my personal sauna recommendations should anyone be in the market for one.
EMFs are everywhere in today’s world. The most common concentrated forms of EMFs exist in things like X-rays while the less concentrated forms come with cell phones, microwaves, and WiFi. To be clear, there have been no significant studies published that low-concentrated forms of EMF have any long-term effects on humans though I predict that will change in the future.
When you begin shopping for saunas, you will find a wide range of price points typically between $2,000 on the low end to $10,000 on the high end. As tempting as it is to go with one of the saunas on the lower end, many times they aren’t reporting the truth of their EMF output accurately. EMFs are measured using “Gauss” or “milligauss” from specific EMF devices. The problem with EMF reporting is that it changes by every inch you move close or away from the source. Meaning if you were standing right next to a microwave, it may measure 25 mG (Milligauss) but if you moved a foot away from it, the measurements may change to 0. Therefore, the proximity of the testing device is vital when conducting these tests. M
Lower quality sauna companies will claim zero or low EMF but in reality, they measure between 10-100 mG range because they aren’t testing at the “point of body contact”. The Swedish gold standards for safe EMF outputs are at 2 mG (milligauss) or less at the ”point of body contact.” The point of contact relates to literally where skin touches the heaters.
A sauna manufacturer should be able to provide you with a complete, multi-page, documented testing report from a government-certified independent lab, stating very clearly that the entire sauna was tested for EMF. If only heaters are tested, then the testing does not include electrical connections, control panels, and wiring which can all emit high levels of EMF.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) refer to all organic chemical compounds that can volatilize (easily evaporate) under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure. This correlates with a low boiling point which has to do with the number of sample molecules that can be found in the surrounding air. Given that Saunas are conducting high amounts of heat, this boiling point plays a huge role in the safety of a sauna.
Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants (8). Several infrared sauna companies use plywood, particle board, or an engineered wood composite as a less expensive option for framing materials in their saunas. These materials can off-gas formaldehyde and other VOCs that can be detrimental to your health. For example, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers formaldehyde a Group B1 probable human carcinogen.
All this is to say that you want to find a sauna brand that can provide you with independent lab testing where the inside of each & every new sauna is tested for VOCs to ensure peace of mind.
My Infrared Sauna Recommendation
Taking all this into consideration, I recommend Radiant Health Sauna which was founded by Randy Gomm. After purchasing my sauna from Randy, I invited him onto my podcast (Check out the episode) and we went deep into all things sweating, detoxing, and of course, saunas. I wholly support Randy’s products but also him as an individual because his journey into this space is so pure. Randy first became passionate about using infrared saunas after finding it was so beneficial for his fibromyalgia which was caused by a toxin exposure from his work as a firefighter. He couldn’t find a good sauna on the market that met his health requirements of 0 VCOs and low EMFs so he set out on a mission to create it himself.
I have now owned my EC-3H 3-Person Corner Elite Model for over 30 months and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll find me sweating my face off on my story with nothing but great things to say about it. I also have taken the sauna apart 4 times and reassembled it with no problems! Because I love and support his products so much, I reached out to Randy and asked him to become one of the few affiliates of his products. I’m happy to say that you can now use the code, “DamnGoodDay” to get $500 off your next purchase! 🙂
About the Author: My name is Ian Lenhart. I am a holistic lifestyle coach, animal lover, passionate podcaster & above all else; a promoter of health & happiness. Learn more about my story into wellness. Follow me on Instagram @ianlenhart.