Our bodies can look and function like that of an older or younger person depending on your lifestyle. You’ll be surprised to learn that you might have two ages: The one recorded on your driver’s license (chronological age) and the other one that is determined by tracking the changes in cells since you’ve been alive (biological age). Your chronological age can’t be reversed and it doesn’t depend on your lifestyle such as sleep, diet, exercise, attitude, etc. On the other hand, considering your life habits and genetics, your biological age will be higher or lower than chronological age. If your biological age is lower compared to chronological age, chances are, you’ll not suffer age-related diseases and you’ll have a higher lifespan. However, that shouldn’t worry you because the biological age can be improved by changing your lifestyle. So, how do you know your biological age?
How to Know Your Biological Age?
To know exactly your biological age, you can send a sample of your blood to a lab for testing. Also, you can do it manually at home. For lab testing, they determine your biological age depending on your telomere length. Telomeres are nucleotides found at the ends of chromosomes, which prevent the chromosomes from deteriorating. Basically, telomere dictates how fast cells age and die.
The shorter your telomeres the higher your biological age. A study found that having shorter telomeres can lead to early death or development of a neurodegenerative disorder. To reverse your biological age and lengthen your telomeres, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Another way of determining biological age is through the use of DNA methylation. Our body cells use DNA methylation to control gene expression, meaning DNA methylation turns genes off. Researchers aren’t yet sure of the exact purpose of DNA methylation, but they say it’s important in embryonic development, chromosome stability, genome imprinting, among others.
The Cellular Damage and Aging Test
The free radical aging theory explains how aging is caused by oxidative damage. Normal metabolism produces oxygen byproducts which may lead to oxidative damage to the biomolecules in cells like the DNA and RNA. As we age, the level of oxidative markers continues to rise leading to increased oxidative damage.
The commonly known marker is the 8-oxoGsn, which is as a result of RNA oxidation. Animal research found that 8-oxoGsn increases as we age and can be detected with a simple urine test. Another study was performed on 1,228 Chinese participants aged between two and 90 years to see if the same effects are found in humans using a rapid technique called ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography. The results showed an age-dependent increase in urinary 8-oxoGsn in subjects aged 21 and above. That was an indication that urinary 8-oxoGsn is another marker of aging. Moreover, levels of 8-oxoGsn were similar in men and women. But postmenopausal women showed greater levels of the marker, which was associated with the drop in estrogen experienced during menopause. Basically, this test was to show how bodies cope with aging, and consequently, the length of the telomeres decreases as a result.
Controlling Biological Age
Surprisingly, you can play a part in your aging process through your lifestyle. Biological age is affected by other factors apart from genetics. The major determining factors include exercise, diet, stress, and sleep.
Exercising is very vital to our health. Studies support the importance of moderate exercising (45 minutes, three times a week) to avoid telomeres shortening especially, in adults. Also, aerobic exercise is the best option when reducing aging effects. However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend an hour running or doing repeated gym routines every day. There are many moderate activities or sports you can engage in on your own or in a group.
Ever heard of the Mediterranean diet? Aside from being delicious, this diet is said to lower the probability of having vascular conditions by 30 percent. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet lowers oxidative stress and inflammation since it’s high in antioxidants like omega -3 which impact telomeres length greatly.
Although it’s unclear how stress causes telomere shortening, it’s proven that stress affects telomere length in a rather adverse way. For cell longevity, you need to avoid acute and chronic stress as well as perceived stress. What’s more, there is evidence that psychological disorder induced by deregulated emotional responses, especially in depression, lowers telomere length, which isn’t the case in people without this condition.
Most people sleep less than seven hours a day. This is very unhealthy and studies have linked a lack of quality sleep with accelerated telomere shortening, mostly in children. Also, for adults over 70 years who are suffering from insomnia, they indicate a major reduction in telomeres length.
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