None of us like getting old. It’s annoying, uncomfortable, and it just plain hurts. The good news is, regardless of how old you are, you can greatly improve or reverse the aging process. Let’s begin with some definitions.
How Old Are You – Chronological Age
Chronological Age is measured by earth revolutions around the sun. This is the one we’re all most familiar with. Because it’s easy and familiar, everyone has a chronological age. Many tests and programs are based around it. Is this really a good measure of age in a technologically evolving world? There are big problems with measuring age chronologically. All it says is you were born x years, or earth-sun rotations, ago. How old are you, really?
How Old Are You – Biological Age
Biological Age is defined as an individual’s development based on biomarkers. A biomarker is a recordable molecular or cellular event. Here we’re looking at the individuals as they are, not necessarily when they were born.
Humans, in most cases, follow the same biological path. For example, the easiest one that comes to mind is the beginning of puberty. More complicated ones exist, such as increases and decreases in human growth hormone, myelination events in the brain, and the degradation of certain tissues as you get older.
The great news is, we can significantly slow or even reverse biological aging through a combination of specific exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle. But what is the combination that will deliver the optimum results. Can we reverse 10, 20, 30 or more biological years? Again, the answer is yes.
Cutting Edge Aging Study
A groundbreaking study called the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Aging confirms people age at different rates. It turns out your chronological age is just a number! More importantly, your biological age can reveal a great deal about your general health and the rate at which you are aging. This study was different than other aging research. The scientists’ objective was to reveal more about the aging process in younger people, and therefore provide a foundation for devising preventative therapies for age-related diseases.
Nearly 1,000 subjects born in New Zealand in 1972 and 1973 were measured for 18 different biological markers over a period of almost 40 years. Each marker is a piece of the aging puzzle. The ‘health’ of each participant’s pulmonary, periodontal, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, and immune systems were assessed using these biomarkers. With these results, researchers calculated a biological age for each participant and then compared the changes in these measurements over time, yielding a quantified pace of aging.
The majority of the participants had biological ages similar to their chronological age. But here is the important part. Some participants were found to have aged as much as 3 years physiologically over the course of just one calendar year. Scientists also found participants with an accelerated rate of aging performed worse on physical and cognitive ability assessments.
The common saying, “you’re as old (or young) as you feel,” was confirmed by the study’s results. Participants with an older biological age perceived themselves to be in worse health than their biologically younger peers.
A big challenge in assessing aging are the compound results caused by cumulative life experiences. For doctors and scientists, it’s nearly impossible to determine whether lifestyle, stress, medical history, or other circumstances are individually responsible for many age-related diseases.
Ultimately, it’s a combination of all these factors that either ages you prematurely or keeps you healthy and prevents illnesses now and in the future. This is precisely why so many biomarkers were used in the study and why multiple beneficial lifestyle choices typically have a synergistic effect on your overall health.
This study will have significant implications on further research to prevent aging, which will help us not only increase our lifespans, but more importantly, increase our health span, or “the years of life lived without disease and disability.” Living longer doesn’t help us much if we’re too sick to fully enjoy the extra years we have. Making proactive decisions about your health now can have lasting positive effects.
This is all good news, but it’s just the beginning. Most people are either too lazy or not worried enough to change their behavior and routine. In my next article, I’ll be talking about the most common major age-related health issues.
Take the Next Step to Better Health
You deserve it! Your family deserves it! You owe it to yourself!