Heat Shock Protein

I have said this before but at the risk of boring you with some repetition here goes – the human body is truly a miracle. Its ability to repair and in fact get better when exposed to stress or shock is unlike any product ever created by humanity. So it is with your with your muscles. One key factor that seems to help is something called Heat Shock Protein (HSP). To quote from Wikipedia “Heat shock proteins (HSP) are a family of proteins that are produced by cells in response to exposure to stressful conditions.”

Initially, believed to have been produced under conditions of heat, HSP’s was later discovered as a response to a wide variety of conditions including muscle stress, exercise, cold and UV light. In addition to being created under pressure, they additionally play the role of chaperone while stabilizing other protein cells when first produced.

HSP’s are present in many cells including muscle cells. Imagine that you are exercising. HSP’s will accumulate in the area being used to cope with the demands being placed on them. Research has shown that accumulation of HSP occurs when blood flow is reduced, mechanical stress is increased, and glucose levels fall. Eccentric training, for example, was seen to elevate HSP by over two-hundred percent.

The effect of HSP went much beyond just muscle building. HSP’s were also found to inhibit reactive oxygen, something that causes protein degradation. HSP also increases glutathione, which is known to assist in muscle recovery. Many body builders, in fact, take glutathione as a supplement.

Compare these responses to the body of a aircraft, among the best-engineered products of humanity. A storm can cause the steel structures to weaken. After a few years, the plane may even be decommissioned. On the other hand, barring death, if you take care of your health, you may never need to be decommissioned.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.