Biological age is a healthy number that differs from your chronological age and reflects how you have aged since birth. It considers the effects of lifestyle, diet and nutrition, illnesses, and damage to your body.
Lowering your biological age is possible, starting by changing your daily routine.
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Your chronological age is set by the day you were born, but your biological age can be lower if you’re healthy and active. It can also be higher if you’re unhealthy or stressed.
Research suggests that a person’s biological age predicts their health and mortality better than chronological age alone. Some different blood tests and biomarkers can help determine a person’s biological age, including the length of their telomeres, DNA methylation level, and skin texture.
These biomarkers can be used to create a composite measure of biological age called PhenoAge, developed using data from a New Zealand study. In the BASE-II cohort, this measure was associated with physician-observed morbidity and subjective health but not lung capacity, over and above the well-known effects of chronological age, sex, and education.
When several of these aging markers were tested head to head, they all performed poorly as mortality predictors, but the frailty index and one of the methylation clocks were the best at predicting death. Moreover, the authors found that people with lower PhenoAge experienced decelerated biological aging and had fewer diseases.
How to calculate your biological age? Biological age tests can be performed using various methods, but one of the most reliable is testing the epigenetics of specific tissues. A saliva or cheek swab sample can be used to determine the biological age of your breast tissue, for example.
Similarly, a blood sample can test the telomere length of your white blood cells, a marker for biological age. The telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of your chromosomes that help keep your genes intact, and every time a cell divides, the telomeres get a little bit shorter. Eventually, the telomeres get so short that they trigger cellular stress responses and chronic low-grade inflammation.
Another marker of biological age is the build-up of dysfunctional “zombie” cells, which are unable to divide and are released into the bloodstream, where they can damage healthy tissue and contribute to disease. While it is not yet possible to take a comprehensive test that measures all the factors that influence biological age, there are many things that you can do to reduce inflammation and slow the aging process.
You can’t change your chronological age; you were born on a specific day and have spent several years alive. But you can change your biological age, which reflects the condition of your body’s cells, tissue, and organs.
Scientists have found that your DNA can be “marked” by various lifestyle factors, such as diet, stress levels, and smoking, influencing how quickly your body ages. This is called epigenetics.
Researchers have also found that a healthier diet and exercise, and a reduction in alcohol consumption, can slow down your biological age. Ideally, you want your biological age to be less than your chronological age because it reflects that you’re healthy and your genes are working well.
Add dynamic flexibility exercises like yoga, animal flow, and dynamic stretching to your workouts. Studies suggest that these exercises can prevent bad posture from aging faster. And it would help if you aimed to get plenty of sleep, too — a study showed that fewer than seven hours per night pushed people’s biological age up by eight years.
Your biological age reveals a lot about your health. It can tell you if you have the heart of a marathon runner or the body of a bed-bound 65-year-old. It can also reveal whether your genetics are working for or against you and predict how fast life-threatening diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s will develop.
Your diet and lifestyle are hugely important regarding your biological age. For example, a recent study found that five out of six women in an eight-week diet and lifestyle program decreased their biological age by up to 11 years. The program included dietary guidance high in “epi nutrients,” which support DNA methylation and can optimize gene expression, stress management techniques, nutritional coaching, and intermittent fasting.
While no single test can determine your biological age, a simple urine test based on ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography can measure key biomarkers linked to aging and inflammation. Researchers are also developing more sophisticated methylation-based biological age tests. These could analyze the metabolites of certain amino acids, such as 8-oxoGsn, which correlates with increased oxidative damage in the body.
Researchers are working to create molecular aging fingerprints that can better determine your biological age. These fingerprints would consider your current disease status and factors like resilience and ability to adapt and recover.
Everything from your genetic code to your diet can affect your body’s internal aging process. It can also be influenced by epigenetic changes, such as DNA methylation, which can turn certain genes off or on. How you manage stress and how often you exercise can also be impacted.
Scientists say your biological age is much more important than the number on your birthday card. That’s because your biological age predicts your risk of age-related diseases and mortality better than your chronological age. The good news is that you can change your biological age by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. The goal is to have your biological age equal to or less than your chronological age. This will help you ward off health conditions and add healthy years to your life.