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What is your Biological Age? What Influences It and How to Improve It


Happy 70yo African American male celebrating his birthday

You will never hear me call someone old - I always use the phrase "for your level of wisdom". Reason is - what does "old" really mean anyway?! Who or what determines how old you are? Are you old because you're starting to get AARP flyers at your house (clearing my throat and quietly raising my hand :)? I can tell you from personal experience, I've taken care of 70 year olds that are younger in mind, activity level and health than some 30 year olds.


Your chronologic age keeps increasing with every trip around the sun but what about your biological age? As your level of wisdom increases your cells change and go through some damage and hopefully some repair. This ultimately effects your function and how well or easily you move through your day. The beauty is that you have some control over your biologic age, essentially how much or how quickly your cells age.


What is Biological Age?

Biological age is an assessment of how well or poorly your body is functioning compared to your actual age. It's determined by looking at various biomarkers and cellular function in your body that give some clues about the state of your health.

  • Cellular health: Telomere length, which protects the ends of chromosomes, can indicate cellular aging. Think of the caps/plastic tips at the end of a shoestring - these are your telomeres. Over time those tips get shorter based on genetics, presence of disease and your lifestyle. It's amazing how much our nutrition and lifestyle can effect, and slow down, the shortening of your telomeres!

  • Inflammation levels: Chronic inflammation is linked to a multitude of age-related and chronic diseases. By controlling and reversing the chronic inflammatory state in your body you can drastically improve your biologic age. Check out my other post on AGE's.

  • Metabolic health: Essentially this represents how effectively you body can use the food you eat. Things like insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can give insight into your metabolic function and health. Additionally, there is cutting edge metabolic testing that is available and in fact I will be hosting an in-person lecture on July 10, 2024 - you don't want to miss it! Register here.

  • Cognitive function: Brain health and cognitive ability can also be an indicator of your biological aging.



Factors Influencing Biological Age

Several lifestyle and environmental factors can improve (lower or slow down) or worsen (increase or accelerate) biological aging:

  1. Nutritional Pattern

  • Healthy Eating: Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can slow biological aging. These foods, which are naturally high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

  • Unhealthy Eating: A high intake of processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats, on the other hand, can accelerate aging by promoting inflammation and metabolic dysfunction. These foods are like putting gasoline on a slow burning fire! This eventually leads to the 4 most deadly reversible diseases - heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.

  1. Physical Activity

  • Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity helps maintain muscle mass, improves your cardiovascular health and metabolic function. All of these will lead to a lower biological age.

  • Sedentary Lifestyle: On the flip side, a lack of exercise can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions that will accelerate aging.

  1. Sleep

  • Quality Sleep: Adequate and quality sleep is crucial for cellular repair, brain function, memory and overall health. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you've been following me, you know I'm a huge advocate for getting quality restorative sleep!

  • Poor Sleep: Chronic sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can lead to increased weight, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, mood disorder, high blood pressure and accelerated aging. This is why it is critical to identify and treat sleep apnea! Side note - in women sleep apnea may cause different symptoms, so just because you're not snoring that doesn't mean you shouldn't be screened for sleep apnea.

  1. Stress Management

  • Effective Stress Management: Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help manage stress and reduce its impact on the body.

  • Chronic Stress: Prolonged stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress, all of which can accelerate aging.

  1. Environmental Factors

  • Healthy Environment: Living in a clean environment with a minimal amount of exposure to pollutants and toxins will supports better overall health.

  • Exposure to Toxins: Pollution, smoking, and alcohol consumption will increase oxidative stress and inflammation which will speed up biological aging.

  1. Social Connections

  • Strong Relationships: Having a supportive social network can improve mental health and reduce stress, contributing to a lower biological age.

  • Isolation: Loneliness and social isolation are linked to higher stress levels and poorer health outcomes, potentially accelerating aging.


How to Improve Biological Age

I say this often, we may not have control over our quantity of time, ie your chronological age, but we can definitely take some simple steps to improve your quality of time on this planet which will also improve your biological age:

  • Adopt a Nutritious Diet: Focus on whole foods rich in nutrients and that are mostly plant based.

  • Exercise Regularly: Aim for a mix of aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises. For a more personalized exercise plan, come see me for a active metabolic test!

  • Prioritize Sleep: Maintain a regular sleep schedule and create a restful environment.

  • Manage Stress: Incorporate stress-reducing practices into your daily routine.

  • Avoid Toxins: Limit exposure to pollutants, quit smoking, and eliminate alcohol intake.

  • Foster Relationships: Cultivate meaningful connections with friends and family.


Conclusion

Biological age offers a more comprehensive view of our overall health and how well we are aging. By understanding and addressing the factors that influence biological age, we can take proactive steps to improve our health and enhance our quality of life. Embracing a healthy lifestyle can help us feel younger and more vibrant, no matter our chronological age.


When we think about age, we often focus on the number of years we've lived—I'd like to challenge you to think about the amount of life in your years!!



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