Do you want to know your actual age? Do you wish to learn how your current way of living affects your health and longevity?
Then you shouldn’t just realize your chronological age, as it may not give you an accurate picture of your health. Science has progressed far as our biological age test results can shed light on several aspects of your health and well-being.
What is Biological age?
An individual’s biological age is an approximation of their actual functional age calculated from a number of different biomarkers such as DNA methylation, telomere length, and gene expression, among other things.
A person’s risk for developing age-related disorders can be reduced by learning more about their health through biological age testing. This article discusses many techniques for determining a person’s biological age.
How Can Biological Age Measuring Help?
When assessing a person’s health and disease risk, biological age may be more informative than chronological age since it may account for factors beyond just the number of years they have been alive, such as physiology. It considers things like cellular damage, inflammation, oxidative stress, and metabolic dysfunction, to name a few.
For example, a person’s chronological age may be 40, but their biological age can be 50 if they have a bad diet, don’t get enough exercise, or are under a lot of stress. On the other hand, someone with the same chronological age but better lifestyle-related habits and more supportive conditions may have a biological age of 30.
In other words, it indicates how “old” the body is regarding its functionality and resiliency.
According to research, one’s biological age may be used to determine one’s risk of getting age-related diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. And it can assist in developing lifestyle interventions that can effectively reverse the aging process.
Therefore, knowing one’s biological age might be helpful in tailoring a person’s medical care. Because of this, scientists and biotech firms have been looking for an accurate approach to quantify the aging process.
The Criteria for The Best Biomarker.
The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) established the following criteria for biomarkers of aging:
- It must estimate the aging rate. In other terms, it would indicate precisely where a person is in their lifetime. It must be a more accurate indicator of lifespan than chronological age.
- It must monitor a fundamental process underlying the aging process, not the disease’s effects.
- It must be able to withstand repeated testing without causing damage to the subject. For instance, a blood test or imaging method.
- It must be effective in both humans and laboratory animals, including rodents. This is so that it can be tested on laboratory animals before human validation.
Types of Biological Age Tests
A person’s biological age may be estimated by several different tests that evaluate their health and the effects of time on their body. These examinations aim to measure several biological indicators and elements connected to the aging process. Common types of biological age testing are listed below.
1- Telomere Length
Although they only account for a small portion of our overall DNA, telomeres serve a crucial function in maintaining the health of our chromosomes and bodies. In Greek, “Telo” refers to “end” and “mere” to “part.”
Telomeres are protective caps found at the ends of each of the cell’s 46 chromosomes and prevent the chromosomes from sticking together and reorganizing themselves.
A cell’s telomere shortens with each round of replication, and once it reaches its maximum shortening, the cell dies. Research shows that many natural aging processes are caused by shorter telomeres, measuring telomere length in human cells as a hallmark of aging.
Shorter telomeres have been linked to an increased risk of neurological disease, chronic illness, and premature death. In addition, your shorter telomeres may make you physiologically older than someone of the same chronological age.
Since telomeres prevent DNA damage, including telomere length in genetic testing is intriguing. For example, testing telomere length is the gold standard for determining biological age.
Several treatment options and lifestyle adjustments have been shown to reduce the rate of telomere shortening in human studies. Regular exercise, for example, has been shown to increase telomere length.
However, telomere length investigation is necessary since it varies significantly from person to person.
How Do We Check Telomere Length?
A blood sample is commonly used for telomere testing.
Healthcare providers use a needle and syringe to extract blood from a vein, which is then analyzed in a lab. White blood cells, called lymphocytes, are taken out of the sample due to the telomeres in their DNA.
Then DNA is taken out of white blood cells and studied further. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is a method used to measure the length of telomeres. In qPCR, the telomeric DNA and a reference gene are amplified, and the ratio of the telomere to the reference gene is found. This gives a measure of the length of the telomere.
The accuracy of various methods to calculate telomere length (and hence biological age) varies. TRF (terminal restriction fragment ) is the first method developed and is still considered the “gold standard” for scientific studies. Flow-FISH is a technique used to measure telomere length, while qPCR is a technology used by certain companies to quantify telomeres.
2- Epigenetic Clocks
Epigenetics is the study of how gene activity gets regulated. Epigenetic changes involve modifications to proteins and DNA that change gene activity without modifying the DNA sequence. Our body can create the many different types of cells that populate the human body, all from the same set of DNA, and react to environmental changes through epigenetics.
Scientists have created “epigenetic clocks” that measure the quantities and patterns of epigenetic alterations that correlate with age.
DNA methylation may be the most prevalent form of epigenetic change. Both genetics and the environment have a role in epigenetic alteration. Researchers found that not all tissues had the same age by analyzing the DNA methylation of over 8,000 samples from various organs and tissues. This demonstrates that various parts of the body age at distinct rates.
During embryonic development and cellular differentiation, DNA methylation is very dynamic. Although methylation patterns reach their maximum during early development, they continue to change even into old age. By controlling gene expression and, by extension, protein synthesis, it aids in mammalian development, differentiation, and the preservation of cellular identity and function.
A one-to-one relationship exists between epigenetic age and social and behavioural characteristics linked with longevity, such as a diet rich in fish and moderate alcohol consumption. As per studies, it is found that as humans age, certain DNA regions have more methylation than others. 60% of cells with DNA methylation at one location on the genome may be linked to a physical or biological age.
How to Measure DNA methylation?
Your DNA will be extracted from a blood sample (finger prick) you submit to lab, and your methylation patterns at over 900,000 important CpG regions will be mapped out and reported on using a number of different algorithms to provide you a comprehensive picture of how your body is aging.
3. Blood Metabolites.
The amounts of metabolites, which are created during metabolic processes, might be indicative of alterations in cellular and organ function.
In the past, clinicians and researchers relied on blood-based markers and functional tests to determine a patient’s biological age.
In recent studies, specific blood metabolites have been linked to aging and age-related disorders. For example, studies have connected glycine deficiency to the development of age-related illnesses. In addition, like ceramides and branched-chain amino acids, greater levels of these metabolites have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other age-related illnesses.
Glycan age testing analyzes the concentrations of particular glycans in the blood or saliva. Scientists can estimate a person’s biological age by comparing their levels to those of a reference population. This method has demonstrated potential for predicting age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
Blood metabolite monitoring can be used to estimate and track a person’s biological age with minimal risk. Researchers can identify metabolites associated with aging and disease risk and develop targeted therapies to lower the risk of age-related disorders.
You can learn more about the pricing and timeline of delivery of these tests in this article here.
What factors could influence my result on the Biological Age Test?
Numerous variables influence your Biological Age Testing results. Some are unchangeable, while others can be altered, which means that your biological age is subject to modification.
Factors that affect your score on the Biological Age Test include:
- Exposure to environmental pollutants
- Types of foodstuffs consumed
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco use
- Exercise routines
- Quality and quantity of sleep
- Psychological distress
The average life expectancy in the United States is now 79, up 41% from a century earlier due to medical and other technical advances. However, chronic illnesses, which now afflict over half of all Americans, have also increased due to modern-day living. That is to say, living longer isn’t always synonymous with living better.
How to Improve Your Biological Age
After determining your biological age, you may assess the efficacy of your current health routine and determine whether or not you need to make adjustments.
While we still need a time machine to physically turn back the hands of time, an abundance of data and research show that you can wind your biological clock back. A 2019 article in Nature showed that not only is a person’s biological clock flexible, but that it can be turned backwards. All nine male volunteers in a research who followed a drug regimen of commonly used therapeutic pharmaceuticals exhibited a biological rejuvenation of 2.5 biological years.
However, you do not need to wait for the results to begin making major changes. Even if you haven’t received the results yet, you can immediately begin implementing the following recommendations to enhance your biological age.
- Calories Restriction. One of the most established and effective ways of slowing the body’s biological clock is cutting calories and sticking to a balanced diet. All age-related risk factors for cardiovascular disease can be reduced with calorie restriction. The researchers found that calorie restriction improved all age-related risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in a group of non-obese men and women. Calorie restriction has also been shown to increase lifespan in rats and primates.
- Adequate Sleep. Getting enough sleep each night prevents the beginning of physical aging, boosts mental health, and lessens the likelihood of developing chronic diseases as per many studies.
- Consume antioxidants. Antioxidants have been shown to slow down the aging process by neutralizing free radicals and oxidative stress, according to studies examining their function. Antioxidant-rich diets have been shown to protect cells from oxidative stress and damage. Antioxidants, found in abundance in green leafy vegetables and colorful fruit, have been shown to delay biological aging.
- A healthy Gut and Micrbiome. The immune system is strengthened and inflammation is avoided when the microbiome is in good health, resulting in a lower biological age. The National Institute on Aging states that sugar and processed food should be avoided for a healthy microbes. Eat fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha as part of a healthy, varied diet.
- Reduce Stress. Most people are unaware that stress may really accelerate biological aging by damaging cells. By practicing meditation, avoiding stressors, and taking part in relaxing leisure activities, you may learn to handle stressful situations more effectively.
- Exercise. As a whole, exercise increases blood flow, which benefits the cardiovascular system and the supply of nutrients to all parts of the body. In addition, a lack of muscle mass is linked to a variety of negative health outcomes, such as an increased risk of hospitalization, more serious consequences, and diminished athletic ability.
- Stay Positive. Maintaining an optimistic outlook might help you delay the onset of biological aging. A pessimistic outlook causes more anxiety, which is bad for your emotional well-being. A research of men and women published in 2019 found that individuals with a positive attitude were 11-15% more likely to live to a ripe old age.
A person’s risk of acquiring age-related disorders can be better understood, and focused therapies for healthy aging might be established with the help of a biological age test.
Unless otherwise specified, the findings of a biological age test should not be used for screening, diagnosing, treating, curing, or preventing any illness or condition or for assessing the risk of any disease or condition. Furthermore, you shouldn’t use your biological age to make decisions about your health or medical care based on your chronological age unless your doctor tells you to.
In addition, monitoring biological age over time can help with lifestyle adjustments and gauging the success of anti-aging initiatives.
After all, age is just a number !!