How to revive biological age the easy way.
It’s no secret that interest in biological age vs chronological is escalating. Mid-lifers and baby boomers alike want to know how they stack up, scary as that may be for some.
Believe it or not, we have two ages. Our chronological age appears on our drivers’ license. The other one, our biological age, reveals what’s happening inside our body. Scientists have even found that organs and cells may age at different rates.
Is 120 the new 80?
Wouldn’t you like to know how much life or vitality you have in you? You might want to remain fit and healthy because you have more bucket-list projects than your current years. You might want to see your great-grandchildren grow up or experience technology in 50 or 100 years. You may need to plan for this potentially extended lifespan. In fact, 120 is the new 80! Scientists have also stated that the first person to reach 200 years old has been born!
The baby boomer generation swells by 10,000 per year. Technology is available now to take control of longevity; to become a Smart Ager. Imagine what that could mean for you. Imagine the reduced impact on healthcare systems if everyone decided to have a crack at 120 years!
Research currently focuses on biomarkers to predict aging health levels. Debate reigns on whether there is one number that says it all. Also, the search for more personalised genetic biomarkers goes on.
How to stay young…
Recently the BBC UK did a documentary ‘How to Stay Young’. Unhealthy mid-lifers undergo a battery of tests to determine their biological age. The analysis screens for many biomarkers to produce a single ‘body age’. How different to their chronological age could it be? Personal stories draw us into the before, during and after journeys of the volunteers.
Let’s meet some of them. Carmody is 57, and after her initial tests, her biological age flashes up on the screen as 78. It’s a whopping 21 years older than her chronological age. For someone who gets into the car to drive to the shops 1 minute 20 seconds walk away, it still comes as a shock. Her muscle mass is dangerously weak. Yet, the team assures her that low muscle mass is reversible in as little as 12 weeks. The team assign an exercise regime.
biological age vs chronological age
Allison is 50, but her initial tests reveal a biological age of 75 years old, 25 years older than her birth age. She ‘works hard, plays hard and indulges in everything’. She lives ‘the good life’. As the team focuses on her cognitive skills, her score is worrying. Her brain and body are aging way too fast.
The brain needs blood flow, but as we age, blood flow to the brain declines. The doctor tells us that this may lead to memory loss or cognitive impairment. Exercise is the prescription for Allison. This will not only help her fitness, but exercise increases blood flow to the brain.
By far the most troubling of this round of volunteers is 51-year-old Tim. Tim is a chef, and in his words, grabs food on the run. The guests may enjoy fine dining, but his diet is cause for concern. Pork pies, bacon sandwiches or the odd takeaway Thai meal with lattes or a few beers are standard fares.
His BMI, at 33.4, categorises him as obese, the fat making his heart work much harder, pushing up his blood pressure. Together with his elevated cholesterol, his aging is accelerating. The team reveals his biological age to be a staggering 90 years old, the same age as his mother. The bombshell bounces this once jolly, have a laugh sort of a guy into action. An assigned nutritionist will focus on changing his diet.
All three volunteers will re-test in 12 weeks to determine whether lifestyle changes have an impact.
How old are you?
Could there be a way to test for biological age without scientists, equipment and a television documentary budget?
You could actually kick it off right now with some pretty simple tests accessible on the internet.
This simple test takes you through a range of factors. They include age, location, gender, education, body shape, sleep, alcohol, stress levels, activity levels, strength levels, medical and dental check-up frequency, happiness and social interaction factors, dietary factors, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking.
The test is detailed but generic. Yet, it does highlight the factors that contribute to healthy aging. I am happy to report a biological age 12 years younger than my chronological age of 64 according to this test!
A similar test by Dr Thomas Perls, author of ‘Living to 100’ is available on his site. Forty quick health and family history questions take about 10 minutes to reveal all. Once again, take note of the questions, and you will have a good idea about how to improve your biological age.
According to this test, my life expectancy is 102 years – another 38 years. Oh, dear! Will my retirement fund last the distance?
Of course, you could always consult your physician for a general health assessment. They may not come up with the tidy round number that scared the research volunteers. Though they will measure a similar set of biomarkers to those in the documentary. Who knows, your numbers may be on the right side of your chronological age. If not, they will have suggestions on lifestyle changes to improve those biomarkers.
I like to track my own my numbers for all regular tests available. By familiarising myself with my blood numbers, I have been able to make positive changes over time. I also have regular screening tests for skin, bowel, breast cancers.
For me, though, heart rate variability is the favourite way to take my health ‘pulse’. I have monitored my heart rate variability every day for the past two years. I have used it to track improvements in lifestyle factors and been thrilled to see how it responds.
There is also some research to suggest “biological age” formats like heart age have a more emotional impact. They may act as a wake-up call to motivate people to change their lifestyle and reduce their risk factors. That has to be a good thing.
You just can’t beat the person who never gives up ~ Babe Ruth
So fast forward 12 weeks and let’s take a look at what our volunteers were able to achieve.
Carmody was able to increase her grip strength from 18kg to 25 kg as a sign of increased overall body strength. Her chronological age doesn’t move from 57, but she has been able to take 12 years off her original biological age. She now has a body age of 66 compared to the initial 78 years and is excited with the result in this short time.
Our party girl Allison engaged in fitness classes and incidental exercise. ‘Energised’ was how she describes herself now. Her cognitive score improved from the concerning 77 to over 90, a very pleasing result. Her body age reduced from 75 to 68, minus 7 years in the 12 weeks.
Then there is Tim who, by the way, wasn’t the worst-case during the documentary series. He threw himself into running and quite enjoys finishing the 12 weeks with his first park run. Every biomarker shows improvement. Body fat is now around 24%, down from an obese level. Cholesterol is normal. More importantly, his body age has reduced from 90 to 75, an outstanding 15 years off.
What are the takeaways?
There are many ways to square up to and take control of your biological age. Simple online tests or consultation with a physician will get you started.
The BBC series also demonstrated what a difference a few weeks of simple lifestyle changes could make to aging biomarkers.
What’s more exciting is that science is now whispering that aging is THE disease. Could all chronic diseases emanate from this one source? David Sinclair, author of ‘Lifespan’, thinks so. The new science of epigenetics is telling us that our genes do not define us. We can change genetic markers that once doomed us to the same fate as our parents and grandparents.
At Futurepace Tech, we research, test and write about Smart Aging.
Click Here to join our growing band of Smart Agers, looking to use technology to improve longevity and make every damn day count!
biological age vs chronological age