8 ways to boost longevity and reduce ‘inflamm-ageing’, according to a doctor

A grandfather holding and playing with two of his grandchildren while on a day out at the park together. boost longevity
There are several simple things you can do to boost longevity. (Getty Images)

Living a long, healthy life surrounded by loved ones is the ultimate goal for many of us – and did you know that there are certain things we can do to boost our longevity?

From having good quality sleep, to lowering blood sugar levels, and practicing fasting, there are plenty habits you can pick up to help with healthy ageing.

Dr Harpal Bains, a longevity medical doctor and Medical Director of Harpal Clinic, has revealed her top recommendations for living a longer, healthier life – and exactly how to reduce ‘inflamm-ageing’.

1. Lower blood sugar levels

High blood sugar levels, which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes among other health conditions, is a form of ‘inflamm-ageing’, Dr Bains explains, which is inflammation that causes speeds up ageing.

"The body needs a certain baseline amount of inflammation so that it can fight off infections, but excessive and chronic inflammation can speed up the ageing process," she adds.

"Inflammation can be triggered by many factors including stress, diet and even some medications."

2. Fasting

"Intermittent fasting gives the gut a chance to repair itself," Dr Bains says. "As a result, you may also end up eating less than before (which can lead to weight loss) and save money (which can go towards improving the quality of food you eat)."

One of the most popular intermittent fasting methods is 16:8, which sees people fast for 16 hours and only eat during an eight-hour window, such as 11am to 7pm.

Shot of a vegan meal preparation with lots of vegetables and fruits on a domestic kitchen
Eating a diet of whole foods can help you live longer. (Getty Images)

3. Eat ‘clean’

Dr Bains recommends eating ‘clean’ between 70% to 80% of the time, which means avoiding processed foods, junk foods, and foods high in sugar and filling up your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein sources like meat or tofu.

"I always suggest, when you can afford it, spending more money on getting good quality (organic if possible) meat, eggs and root vegetables," Dr Bains says.

"If the skin of a vegetable is thick, pesticides are less likely to penetrate the skin, but if the skin is thin, it is worth trying to buy organic if you can."

4. Work on your sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a broad term, but it refers to things you can do to increase your chances of a good night’s rest such as sleeping without noise and in a dark room, avoiding looking at your phone an hour before bed, and not drinking any caffeine after 2pm.

"Make good quality sleep a priority," Dr Bains says. "One of the best things you can do is to implement a good sleep hygiene routine. This can include no blue light or screens before bed, eating earlier in the evening, and ensuring the temperature of your bedroom is a comfortable 18°C. Also consider a morning lie-in without the guilt!"

5. Try cold water immersion therapy

"Ice baths or cold showers can help flush toxins out of the body by increasing blood circulation," Dr Bains says. "Evidence also suggests that cold immersion therapy improves the immune response and antioxidant protection."

Portrait of a young woman in bathroom screaming in shower
A cold shower can help to flush toxins from the body. (Getty Images)

6. Speak to your GP about supplements

If you suspect you may be lacking in some essential vitamins or minerals, speak to your GP about which supplements you could be taking.

"A good place to start is taking omega-3 and magnesium a few times a week," Dr Bains says. "Magnesium is a ‘jack of all trades’ vitamin and gets used up in the body really quickly. Add different supplements to your regime on rotation so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Do what you can according to how you feel that week or what you’re trying to achieve in health goals."

7. Reduce stress

Stress is a known factor in longevity – in fact, recent research determined that people with ‘heavy’ stress have their life expectancy shortened by 2.8 years.

"Anything you can do to help reduce and manage stress in your life will have a beneficial impact," Dr Bains says. "Mindfulness is a powerful tool that really does work, this may simply mean going for a walk or reading a book. Remember, ‘good enough’ is usually good enough. And you get to decide that."

8. Find joy in the little things

"Think about what brings you joy and invest in it more often," Dr Bains says. "This could be as simple as a comedy show that you love to watch on repeat, meals with friends and so on. Put aside time to do things that make you laugh out loud."

Longevity: Read more