If you are an elite athlete, regularly active, or are even thinking about ramping up your exercise routine, hydrogen may be one of the simplest supplements you can add to your life. In fact, science has progressed so much that this master molecule now comes in a dissolvable tablet. You can turn any glass of water into a modern form of bio “jet fuel” for taking your health to the next level.
Today there are over a thousand scientific articles tying molecular hydrogen (H2), a tasteless, odorless gas, to vast therapeutic potential. Among the most progressive is research that demonstrates how supplementing with this naturally occurring molecule may play a role in priming the body for a workout, helping both elite and aspiring athletes in recovering from epic training days — or everyday adventures.
First, let’s clear up a confusing thing about hydrogen. Water is H2O, right? So isn’t hydrogen already in one of the primary sources of hydration? Not exactly. We’re talking about hydrogen gas. In water, hydrogen molecules are “attached” to oxygen, like they are in nearly every organic molecule on earth. Hydrogen in gaseous form is just two hydrogen atoms — neutral chemicals bonded together — with no effect on pH when dissolved in water.
So why would we want to “drink” hydrogen gas for better health? Here are five reasons you can’t overlook.
1. It’s the yin to oxygen’s yang.
We hear a lot about oxygen these days. People, especially active folks, can’t seem get enough of it. Oxygen supplementation comes in many forms — breath work techniques, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and inhalants.
But hydrogen is the underdog that may add an overlooked balance where athletes, hard-charging parents, and professionals might need it most. Acting as a “selective” antioxidant, hydrogen promotes all the things that regular exercise does: healthy metabolism, performance, and activation of the body’s natural detoxification system. (1)
Hydrogen and oxygen have a storied relationship. Hydrogen is primordial — the first element in existence. When hydrogen and oxygen react together, they work in natural oppositional balance to form what you might think of as a solvent, life-giving kind of water. Many “curative” types of natural waters from around the world seem to contain copious amounts of hydrogen, which may be a clue to hydrogen’s deeply historic value.
Oxygen, although essential for life, slowly oxidizes; it’s an effect you can see on apple that turns brown once cut. So instead of focusing so much on more oxygen, it might be refreshing to try hydrogen, the yin to oxygen’s yang.
2. It’s a super convenient way to get your “jet fuel.”
Hydrogen is three times more energy-dense than gasoline. Molecular hydrogen powers cars — even the sun. So what would happen if you could put some of that odorless, tasteless, inert “rocket fuel” inside your body? Try to imagine.
We know that hydrogen and exercise activate similar and incredibly powerful metabolic pathways inside the body. You learn more about that below. To get more hydrogen, you can find a hyperbaric chamber to immerse yourself in a low percentage of hydrogen as therapy; inhale it in a few places via cannula; or drink it dissolved in your daily glass of water.
The convenience of dropping an effervescent tablet in a cup of water to get a high concentration of hydrogen in the body pre- or post-workout is one of science’s most brilliant little inventions. In fact, using regent drops it’s possible to measure the amount of molecular hydrogen in each serving. That’s a pretty compelling way to power your next workout.
3. Molecular hydrogen acts “like” exercise itself.
It sounds wild, but you can think about taking hydrogen supplements as as way to “mimic” the profound and proven benefits of exercise. We’re not suggesting you do only that; but picture amplifying all that goodness with something as simple as hydrogen-loaded water?
Whether you’re a weekend warrior who squeezes in exercise in two precious days or you can train six days a week on par with a pro athlete, the basic benefits of movement — despite its intensity level — are felt through the activation of signaling pathways and stress hormones. (2) When these ancient pathways are triggered by exercise, your metabolism revs, alongside all the benefits that come with it.
Amazingly, clinical studies are showing that molecular hydrogen “mimics” the biological effects of exercise by mediating the same beneficial metabolic pathways activated through healthy and consistent exercise. (3) The molecular hydrogen dissolved in therapeutic waters falls in the category of an exercise “mimetic.” How’s that for a glass half full?
4. It might make recovery that much easier.
Not only can hydrogen mimic many of the effects of exercise, it also has been found to help promote recovery. And as we age, those in the second act know that the second half of exercise — the recovery — becomes that much more important than the first — and fun — part.
Exercise causes a temporary spike in stress hormones and something called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Stress might sound bad, but it’s not always. In nature this is known as “hormesis,” a biological reaction in which something that produces negative effects at a high dose for a long period of time will produce beneficial effects at a low dose for a short period of time. When this occurs during exercise, the short-term spike stimulates beneficial effects associated with physical exertion. Interestingly, molecular hydrogen has been found to show similar biological effects.
Molecular hydrogen also behaves like an adaptogen, helping to temper inflammation and activate the body’s natural detoxification process. (4) Other protective benefits come when H2 works to support of the body’s natural antioxidant pathways through the activation of something called Nrf2 expression. (5)
5. Better yet? Your brain gets a workout, too.
Many of the same things we use exercise to address, such as lowering stress and blowing off the inevitable steam of modern life, are hardwired in our brains. So what if we could trigger similar cognitive benefits in a dissolvable hydrogen supplements? That’s what studies are looking at right now.
Two have highlighted hydrogen’s adaptogenic properties in supporting homeostasis (a balance of physiological processes) in the body and the therapeutic effects of hydrogen therapy on the influential HPA axis. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study participants felt a decrease in feelings of nervousness and an increase in mood. (6) Likewise, an animal study showed molecular hydrogen’s long-lasting effects as resilience to stress increased beyond the time of administration. (7)
Hydrogen may also offer neuroprotective effects. Research has shown that’s molecular hydrogen can activate autophagy, the body’s automated cleaning process for proper cell and tissue health, as well as protect the functionality of mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells. (8),(9),(10). It seems these protective effects come from molecular hydrogen’s ability to diffuse directly into cells and organelles.
Interested in seeing if you notice the effects of hydrogen on your performance, stamina, recovery, and resilience to the mental strain of a modern life? Add some H2 Elite tabs to your hydration routine. We’d love to hear what you think.