From youth-obsessed celebrities to athletes looking to prolong their careers and everyone else in between, there’s always been a strong societal interest in slowing the aging process.
While the different reasons behind this desire change from person to person, there’s no denying that the ‘fountain of youth’ provides a whole lot of benefits - including to our health.
But how would you feel if we told you your biological age can be lowered…
Research suggests that biological age is the most important when it comes to predicting how soon you’ll die and whether you’ll develop certain conditions or diseases like diabetes and dementia.
By making changes, you have the power to lower your biological age, which can lead to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Chronological vs Biological Age
Your chronological age refers to what we already know - it’s the date and year you were born. This cannot change.
Biological age, however, refers to how old your cells are. For some people, these two ages will coincide, whereas others - especially those who are fit and healthy - can have a lower biological age than the chronological age.
Some factors that can influence this are your diet, exercise regime, stress levels, smoking tendencies, sleeping habits, and even the physical environment in which you live, work, and sleep.
Indicators of your Biological Age
When calculating your biological age, researchers look at the changes in your genetic material. This can mainly be done through telomeres and DNA methylation, but other elements can provide some giveaway clues too.
Similar to the plastic tips on shoelaces, telomeres act as protective caps at the ends of your DNA. The aim is to keep your genetic information intact when your cells divide. With each division, these caps (telomeres) get a bit shorter.
As you age, your cells keep dividing for the purpose of repair and regeneration. As a result, the telomeres get shorter too. When they’re too short, this signals to your cell to stop dividing or self-destruct to prevent any problems.
Research suggests that shorter telomeres can increase the likelihood of age-related diseases, such as dementia.
In another study that compared telomere length in white blood cells with results from brain MRI scans and electronic health records from 31,661 UK Biobank participants, the following was found:
People with longer telomeres tended to have larger volumes of grey matter in their brains and a larger hippocampus. This plays a vital role in learning and memory and gets progressively smaller in people with dementia.
Longer telomeres were associated with a thicker cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of grey matter that becomes thinner with cognitive decline.
There are an estimated 30,000 genes in the human body that carry instructions for making proteins that make up your body and help it to function properly.
These genes are akin to light switches, as they can be turned on or off. When the cells start repairing, a process called DNA methylation occurs. This doesn’t directly alter the genes but changes how you express your genes.
When looking at this, gaining a precise predictor of your biological age can be possible.
When the cells are older, you become more susceptible to a number of diseases. It’s not always a great indicator, but the prevalence of any of the following could mean a lower biological age:
- Lung disease
- Chronic bronchitis
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
When our cells age, they begin a phase called ‘senescence,’ where the ability to regenerate and repair is lost.
Aging as we know it - with visible signs like gray hair, wrinkles, limited mobility, and more - really begins at a cellular level.
Factors that Influence Biological Age
There is a clear link between chronic stress and accelerated age, as it contributes to the shortening of the telomeres.
When your mind or body is exposed to stress, this can bring on inflammation and damage to the DNA in cells - along with a cascade of biological responses in the body.
Long-term stress can lead to oxidative stress, which creates an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species and the body’s ability to repair damage.
It’s not all doom and gloom though as the body can begin to recover from the damage of stress when a conscious effort is taken to overcome this.
Pain can impact your life in more ways than one. In a study of 116 male participants, some with chronic pain and others without, the telomere length of those with pain was significantly shorter than that of the pain-free individuals.
Again, when these become shorter, this can bring on the aging process and age-related diseases.
Trying to get to the bottom of any pain as soon as possible will help you in both the short term and the long run.
If you’re looking to heal internal damages quicker, consider a red light therapy device like Kineon’s MOVE+ Pro. The advanced technology helps relieve your pain, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the healing of damaged tissues.
Nutritionists have suggested that if a person’s diet is low in nutrient-rich and antioxidant-producing foods, uncontrolled oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process.
To change this, make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and are getting enough vitamins.
Nutrient-rich and antioxidant food include apricots, asparagus, pumpkin, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, bell peppers, kale, mangos, peaches, pink grapefruit, winter squash, spinach, sweet potato, tomatoes, watermelon, collard greens, turnip, and kale.
Exercise is incredible for your mental and physical health, with those who work out often linked to having less visceral fat, which can bring on age-related problems like heart disease and diabetes.
If you’re a firm gym-hater, there are still lots of other fun ways to get moving:
Take your dog for a walk once or twice a day (or volunteer at a local shelter!)
Plan a hike with friends
Rock climbing can work wonders as an arm/back/forearm workout
Put a music video on and get dancing!
Join a local sports club, like basketball, martial arts, or tennis
Having poor sleeping habits can be hugely detrimental to your mood, health, and even pain.
The sleeping period gives our body time to repair cells, restore energy, and release molecules like hormones and proteins. When sleep is affected, this diminishes the natural abilities and processes that heal any damaged areas.
If areas are unable to be helped, you may deal with prolonged injuries, chronic pain, and the onset of conditions.
To counteract this, establish a sleep routine to signal to your brain that it's time to wind down for the evening. This could include having herbal tea, turning off all electronics, putting on some calming music or ambient white noise, and doing some light stretching before it’s time to sleep.
It’s no fun trying to reduce your biological age if you’re not reaping the benefits of feeling young.
Sleep like a teenager (maybe not as excessively…), explore new areas around your local town, and play sports with friends or family.
By doing all of these things naturally (living a more active life) and incorporating them into your day-to-day, you're more likely to see (and feel) a decrease in your biological age.
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