Everyone ages differently. According to studies, there is a link between healthy living factors such as exercise, diet, and alcohol consumption and stressors such as lack of sleep and biological age.
Biologic age describes how your body behaves and feels, while chronological age is measured by the number of years that have passed since you were born. Aging is the number one risk factor for most diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Seeing not just someone’s chronological age but also their biological age holds insight into their future risk of developing diseases overall or organ-specific diseases.
Your cells, which make up your tissues and organs, experience aging as a reduced ability to function over time. Factors such as genetics and lifestyle habits can influence the rate of reduction and ultimately determine your biological age. Each of your organs or tissues has its own biological age, the sum of which determines your overall biological age.
What Is Biologic Age Testing?
Biological age tests determine how old your physical body is, contrasting with your calendar age. They are necessary to set your health baseline to measure treatments that reverse aging. Biological age is a more accurate indicator and predictor of health. It considers how old your cells really are and tests their ability to function. Since biological aging can be reversed or slowed by adopting a healthy lifestyle and preventing age-related diseases, learning about your biological age is important.
How Is the Biological Age Measured?
The most reliable way to measure biological age is through a biological marker using diagnostic tools. Your age can be determined by testing numerous spots on the DNA genome. Biologic tests include:
Epigenetics studies how cells control gene activity without changing the DNA sequence. Epigenetic changes are modifications to DNA that regulate whether genes are turned on or off. It involves how our behavior and environment can affect the way our genes work. Changes to epigenetic information accompany aging in our cells and hugely influence the aging process.
DNA methylation is one of the primary epigenetic modifications that occur as humans age, a process by which functional groups (methyl groups) are added to DNA over time. The more methyl groups present in your DNA, the older your cells will behave. DNA methylation clocks can be used to determine early disease risk, expectancy, and mortality.
A saliva sample is taken to discover your biological age, and your DNA is extracted and read across your genome where methylation has occurred. Over 100,00 DNA methylation sites are used to calculate your biological age.
How Can You Reverse Your Biological Age?
Healthspan has advanced with healthcare, and you can control your biological age through your daily habits. You can do several things to improve overall health and reverse or slow aging. Lifestyle factors impact your biological age more than even your age. You can decrease your biological age by doing the following:
- Restrict your calories: Restricting calories and adhering to a healthy diet is a proven way to reduce biological age. Calorie restriction improves all age-related risk factors, such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and inflammation.
- Consume a plant-based diet: A plant-based diet improves heart health and boosts the immune system. It positively affects the degradation of telomeres located at the ends of our DNA strands, making them a significant marker for biological age.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleep deprivation greatly speeds up biological aging. Getting adequate sleep of 7-8 hours slows the onset of physical aging, improves mental health, and reduces the risk for chronic disease.
- Exercise regularly: Physical exercise, especially High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), can prevent telomere degradation and increase the ability of cell mitochondria to produce energy; exercise also boosts blood flow and improve the cardiovascular system and nutrient delivery throughout the body.
- Consume antioxidants: Antioxidants can help counter the external factors that encourage aging, like free radicals. Consuming foods high in antioxidants reduces oxidative stress on cells and prevents cellular destruction.
- Maintain a healthy microbiome: A healthy microbiome boosts the immune system and prevents inflammation, leading to a younger biological age. For a healthy microbiome, consume a well-balanced diet that includes fermented yogurt and kombucha. Avoid sugars and processed foods.
- Manage your stress levels: Stress can damage your body at the cellular level and accelerate your biological age. Use stress management techniques by meditating, avoiding triggers, and engaging in healthy leisure activities.
- Engage in your community: Loneliness in both men and women can decrease telomere length and increase the signs of aging. Foster a supportive social environment for yourself and participate in community engagement to help you reduce biological age.
- Have a positive mindset: A negative mindset adds unnecessary stress and can harm your mental health. Keep your biological age in check by maintaining a positive mindset.
Here at Susan A. Baker M.D., we are passionate about helping you add vitality and healthier years to your lifespan by providing an overview of how well you are aging and your overall health. Our team of experienced staff will develop an individualized longevity plan based on your needs to help you live a healthy and improved quality of life. Contact us today for more information or request an appointment online.