Longevity Lifestyle #1 - Cold Exposure: Hype or Longevity Boosting?

Longevity Lifestyle #1 - Cold Exposure: Hype or Longevity Boosting?

Longevity Lifestyle Series

Reference Lab

NOV 30, 2021

The Longevity Lifestyle Series will be a series of informative posts featuring simple and affordable science-backed practices that have been proven to extend longevity. You can incorporate each practice into your daily life to feel more energetic, to slow the rate of your aging, and to improve your healthspan (the number of years you live healthy and disease-free).

Each post will include science-based explanations for why each practice improves healthspan and tips on how to best incorporate them, based on personal experience and research from the author.

Original posts can be found at livelongerworld.substack.com, a newsletter dedicated to delivering actionable tips and science-backed protocols to optimize health and extend longevity.

Topics to be featured in the series:

  1. Cold showers / cold exposure
  2. Fasting (intermittent fasting + longer fasts)
  3. Exercise and mitochondrial health
  4. Sleep (the science behind sleep’s impact and sleep tips)
  5. Sauna
  6. Longevity foods and gut health (+ what not to eat)
  7. Supplements for longevity (vitamins and minerals)

Meet the author
: Aastha Jain is a longevity enthusiast who commits herself to performing in-depth research on health optimization techniques, often self-experimenting, to deliver actionable and impactful recommendations to effectively extend your healthspan through her newsletter, livelongerworld.substack.com. She takes the time to do the research and test each health optimization practice so you don’t have to!

Besides her writing, she is also the host of the Live Longer World Podcast through which she interviews researchers, entrepreneurs, and advocates who are transforming the field of longevity science. You can find her podcast, Live Longer World, on all platforms including YouTube, Apple podcasts, and Spotify.

Newsletter | YouTube | Podcast | Twitter: @aasthajz | Instagram: @aasthajz

A trusted resource:

“Aastha is an inspiring longevity enthusiast who does an incredible job in curating, simplifying, and summarizing science-based content, offering a valuable resource to guide us on our journey to a healthier, longer life.”

— Carolina Oliveira Reis, PhD, OneSkin CEO & Co-Founder

Longevity Lifestyle Series Edition #1:
Cold Exposure

01 What Does Cold Exposure Help With?

Cold Exposure - Good for Longevity?

The short of it is that cold exposure has been well-studied in animals to be beneficial for longevity [1] and one of the reasons for that is because it’s a hormetic stress. Hormetic stressors are the good type of mild stresses on your body that essentially contribute to longevity in the future. As a rule of thumb, if something is a good hormetic stress for you, it’s good for your longevity. Other examples of hormetic stressors are exercise, fasting, eating organic vegetables, and eating cruciferous vegetables (yes, they in fact have a hormetic effect on us), all of which I’ll be covering in the next few posts.

Other Benefits of Cold Exposure:

  • Focus + Adrenaline: Who doesn’t want increased focus? Next time, you are looking to boost your focus and motivation, try taking a cold shower beforehand. Cold showers can increase dopamine levels up to 2.5x above baseline and it stays at that elevated level for more than 2 hours! Note that it’s a misconception to think of dopamine as being “bad”. It certainly can be bad in certain cases, but it is essential for motivation[2], and cold showers are one of the best ways to boost focus and motivation. In fact, cold showers prior to exercise have also been shown to boost performance due to increase in adrenaline.
  • Brown Fat Activation + Fat Loss: Studies show how cold exposure can increase brown fat volume in humans. Brown fat has several benefits and can improve glucose and insulin sensitivity, increase fat oxidation, and protect against diet-induced obesity. More commonly, brown fat is known to have a higher resting metabolic rate which means that it burns more calories at rest and helps with fat loss.
  • Reduces Inflammation: Inflammation has been implicated in the aging process, and has come to be known as “Inflammaging”. Cold exposure can decrease inflammation in people and this benefit has been well touted by Wim Hof (aka the Iceman) as well, who is well known for popularizing the benefits of cold therapy.
  • Mitochondrial Biogenesis:[3] This is a process by which new mitochondria are produced. Mitochondria is responsible for energy production. They convert energy from food to ATP, which is the basic fuel molecule used by our cells to generate energy. Hence, they are aptly known as the “powerhouses of the cells.” It is well known that as we age, our mitochondrial health declines, which is likely responsible for our reduced energy levels with age. Cold exposure can generate new mitochondria which helps with more energy, especially as we age. In short, the mitochondria is responsible for energy production. However, mitochondrial health declines with age. Cold exposure can boost production of new mitochondria and help with more energy.
  • Stress Reduction and Enhanced Mood are some of the other benefits.

How to get Started with Cold Showers / Cold Exposure

  • If you are new to cold showers, you can start small. Try turning the shower to cold for a few seconds at first, and then a minute and slowly ramp it up over the days.
  • You don’t necessarily need to take cold showers everyday in order to get its benefits. You can start with only a few days a week.
  • You can also expose yourself to the cold by stepping out in the cold without a jacket. Obviously, don’t overdo it to the point of hypothermia.
  • Another way of exposing yourself to the cold is sleeping in cooler temperatures. Skip the blanket or turn off the heater or turn up the air-conditioning. This is also the reason you see the rise in cooling blankets.
  • My favorite way of exposing myself to the cold is jumping into cold lakes and waterfalls! It’s super fun :)

What Should You Watch Out For?

  • Cold Showers post Exercise: Cold showers can in fact blunt some of the pro-inflammatory benefits of exercise. So, it’s best to wait an hour or so before taking a cold shower post exercise. Unless of course, you are a professional athlete - they commonly do cryotherapy post exercise to help with muscle soreness and reduce some of the high levels of inflammation caused by exercise. But the level of exercise most of us do is far from overdoing it, so don’t blunt its positive effects by taking a cold shower right after. Wait for an hour.
  • Cold Showers before Sleep: You want to take warm showers before sleep (I’ll talk more about this in my posts on sleep). But we discussed how cold showers increase adrenaline levels and it’s not something you want before you go to bed. You don’t want elevated energy levels before you sleep.
  • Hypothermia: This is a case of dangerous drop in body temperature due to prolonged exposure to the cold. Do not overdo cold exposure. But, merely taking cold showers for a few minutes is unlikely to induce hypothermia.
  • Cold Water Adapted: In case you become adapted to the cold, you will not get all of its benefits. In this case, either increase the levels of cold you expose yourself to or wait a few days before going back under cold showers such that your body is not acclimated anymore.

And That’s It: Let’s Summarize!

Cold Showers and Cold exposure are a cheap and simple practice you can incorporate in your daily life to increase healthspan, burn fat, increase levels of focus, reduce stress, improve mood, and even help with immune functioning! So why not get started today? Trust me, cold showers will feel great! Try them for yourself and feel free to comment about your experience!

See you next time,


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