For the longest time our age has been defined by the day we were born and the number of times we are fortunate enough to circle the sun. Recent advances in the field of biotechnology hint that in the future we will all carry two ages:
- Your chronological age - Our traditional measure of age, the one that we celebrate every advancing birthday
- Your biological age - The age that our cells are acting
It turns out that these two ages can be quite different.
We all know of people who look just a little older than the age they are and also a lucky few that look significantly younger than their actual age. New DNA tests can measure something called DNA methylation, which gives you an indication of how old your cells are acting. Researchers have found the not only can people look different to their actual age but the DNA in their cells can reflecting this as well.
In fact, your biological age, if you are not aging well, can be up to 20 or even more years older than your chronological age.
This means that if you are in your fifties that your cells are acting like someone in their seventies and makes it much more likely that you will start to suffer from the conditions associated with older age much earlier than you should.
The good news is that if you do get a result that suggests your biological age is getting ahead of your chronological age all is not lost. Your biological age responds to environmental and lifestyle changes, and can be brought back into line - meaning you can literally wind back time and capture those years back.
And the news gets better, there are people that have not only brought back their biological age to one that closer resembles their chronological age but gone further and literally reversed the aging of their cells so that their biological age is substantially younger than their chronological age. There are cases of people in their fifties and sixties who have a biological age two or three decades younger, that is their cells are acting like someone in their thirties. These are the people that are acing the aging process and will arrive at their 8th, 9th and even 10th decades with amazing health and vitality as they push back the health conditions that arrive with older age much further down the road.
As our understanding of how this process works grows, we will all be able to age better but for now there are some very simple actions you can take today that reverse your biological age and increase your chances that you will arrive into older adulthood with the energy, vitality and health of someone much younger.
We all know the importance of regular exercise and a good diet for our health. These two simple actions have a remarkably significant and positive impact on our biological age.
Consciously building exercise into our daily life is much easier than you think. Of course, if you are getting to the gym regularly or able to find time to go walking, running or swimming then you are on completely the right track. But if these activities just don’t fit into your current lifestyle then have a think about what you can do. Things like taking the stairs instead of the lift, using a stand up desk, walking or cycling to the store for your weekly grocery top up, having stand up meetings all positively contribute to engineering exercise into your life and helping to reverse that all important biological age so that you age better.
We are also learning a few diet hacks that accelerate the improvement of our biological age.
Having a predominantly plant-based diet helps, along with having a habit of not eating until you are full.
Occasionally partaking in fasting also helps as it stimulates key cellular pathways that support autophagy. Autophagy is a process that is essentially like cellular housekeeping. When autophagy is triggered, the body removes older cells and cellular components that are no longer working optimally and stores them so that when we begin to eat again our body recycles them to make newer versions of those cells and components. The result is we freshen up and repair faulty cells which has a significant whole-body benefit.
Your biological age management strategy could also include adding supplements to your daily regime. We are incredibly fortunate to be alive in this time and place, because of the significant increase in research and understanding when it comes to the potential benefits of supplements.
We know now that you can support your DNA with molecules like Hobamine, which reduce the impact of oxidative stress on your DNA in a way that has not been available to us before. Likewise we can support the key molecular mechanisms in our cells for monitoring and repairing DNA damage with molecules like pterostilbene. Then there are compounds like NMN and NR that seem to have an ability to help the cell maintain levels of a key enzyme that decline with age called NAD.
As humans, we are rapidly decoding cellular aging and this means that more and more options are available to us to extend the number of years of healthy life available to us. Next time you look in the mirror ask yourself if another 10 or 20 years of healthy life is something that would be worthwhile to you and if so then set about working on the one age you can control – your biological age. The benefits for you and your loved ones is the one thing we can’t measure!
Greg Macpherson is a biotechnologist, cellular health and healthspan expert with over thirty years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry.