How old are you REALLY?
Biological age is how old your cells are. It is different from your chronological age which is how many birthdays you’ve had. Biological age can be the same as your chronological, but it can also be different as each of us ages at different rates. Ideally, of course, the goal is to have your biological age be lower than your chronological age.
Our healthspan is the time of life when we do not have any aging-related disease like lung disease, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or dementia. In other words, healthspan is the length of time that a person is healthy, not just alive. Researchers have determined that average Americans’ healthspans are in the high 60s. This is determined using the average ages of disease onset plus frequency. While the average American’s lifespan has decreased from 79 years old pre-COVID to 76 years old. Healthspans, however have continued to increase steadily.
Scientists have studied aging since time began and have made significant progress in the last several decades. Researchers are confident that they are beginning to accurately measure people’s biological age and that they are close to the next step which is to slow down the biological aging to allow people to live longer by fiddling with our DNA.
At this point, researchers can provide tools to help close the gap between chronological and biological age if the latter is a higher number. The health care specialists who test your biological age will recommend course adjustments by looking at how much and how good your sleep is, how you eat, how much you exercise, how much alcohol you consume, if you smoke, where you live and your stress level – all the usual suspects.
The at-home tests that are recommended are the ones that test an individual’s epigenetic age clock by using DNA collected from saliva, blood, or other tissue. myDNAge test is one, and they offer a test that collects a couple drops of your blood ($299) or a test that uses your urine ($299). They also offer a test for your dog using an inner cheek swab ($250).
Tally Health is another at-home test that uses epigenetic testing. It requires a cheek swab. You can purchase a one-time test for $229, or sign up for a 3, 6 or 12-month subscription that includes a personalized action plan, a daily longevity supplement and follow up tests to chart your progress.
Other tests are offered by Elysium Index and Novos Age. Before you choose and take a test, please do your own research, and have a chat with your doctor to see what they recommend.
While some diseases are traced to genetics, genetics play a smaller role than one would think in determining our health and longevity. My mother lived to be 101 years old, and I was dismayed to learn that her genes will only account for 10% of my healthspan. The remaining 90% is in my control based on where I live and how I live.
While we know how to improve our health, it bears repeating here. Age researchers’ advice all contains some variation of the following recommendations:
- Follow a diet with a variety of colorful and cruciferous vegetables, low glycemic fruits, some animal protein, foods dense in polyphenols like cumin, turmeric, green tea, mushrooms.
- Get adequate hydration.
- Exercise a minimum of 20-30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Practice regular meditation, breathing regimens, or other relaxation techniques.
- Sleep at least seven hours a night.
- Talk to a medical professional about supplements and a probiotic.
Aging is our biggest risk factor for chronic and acute diseases. Ideally, we should have begun a healthy lifestyle and diet in our 30s and really drilled down in our 40s. It’s never too late to start!