Are You Older Than You Think You Are?

Are you 50 going on 60? Or 50 going on 40?

When it comes to aging, your biological age holds more weight than your chronological age. The latter is the number of candles on your last birthday cake. Chronological age is a set number that increases predictably year after year.

Your biological age, however, shows the condition of your body based on physiological evidence. Biological age is not a linear line and is more accurate than your chronological age for predicting the onset of disease and death. If you’re 50 and in peak physical condition, your biological age may be far younger than your chronological age. But if you’re 50 and your cells and tissues are damaged due to a lifetime of poor habits, your biological age may be much older than your chronological age.

What Determines Biological Age?

Since your biological age is a comprehensive quantitative measure of your inner aging process, namely the amount of damage that has been accumulated in various cells and tissues in your body, it can vary greatly. Studies have proven about 25 per cent of aging is determined by genetics, while the rest is influenced by your environment and lifestyle. This includes factors like diet, exercise, stress, trauma, smoking, sleeping habits and the even zip code of where you live and work. Life expectancy can vary by up to 30 years in communities that are just a few blocks away. This is due to exposure to air pollution and toxins, access to healthy food, green space and medical care, as well as socio-economic factors. This is especially pronounced in America’s largest cities. Topping the list of life expectancy gap by zip code are Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Your Changing DNA

While you are born with a specific DNA genetic code, that doesn’t mean that it’s static. There are 900,000 methylation markers along your DNA. These markers can be turned on and off — and even repaired — throughout life dependant largely on the lifestyle choices you make.

Changes in DNA methylation occur with aging and researchers have found these changes can be used as a reliable predictor of biological age. In particular, in monitoring your health span, how you will live, over simply your lifespan, how long you will live.

Healthy Gut, Long Life

What does a healthy intestinal tract have to do with aging well? More than you might think. According to several recent studies, including this one published in the journal Nature Metabolism, which found that analyzing the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi in what’s known as the gut microbiome can predict the chances of someone living to a ripe — and healthy — old age.

The research has found that the more change and diversity that occurs in the microbiome over the years, the more these gut microbes are able to fight chronic disease and promote longer life spans. On the other hand, the microbiomes of people who are less fit and healthy are less diverse.

There’s plenty you can do to maintain good gut health, including staying physically active and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fibre and fewer processed foods.

Fountain Life’s gut microbiome analysis can determine your gut’s current status so that you can take steps to find the optimal balance between good and bad bacteria to enhance your overall health.

Yes, you can Lower your Biological Age

Unlike chronological age, your biological age can be lowered by making healthy lifestyle changes. These include eating a high-nutrient mostly plant-based diet, staying physically active, regulating emotions, improving sleep, not smoking and reducing exposure to environmental toxins.

Calculating your Biological age

A medical test conducted by a healthcare provider can help you learn your true biological age. Fountain Life’s epigenetic test examines methylation markers on your DNA to predict your biological age in comparison to your chronological age and determines how these changes will affect your body and overall health. The test looks at the 900,000-plus methylation markers along your DNA and uses a machine-learning algorithm to find correlations linked to health outcomes.

So while you can’t change the number you celebrate each year on your birthday, you can decrease the age that matters most. Learning your biological age sets an important benchmark for where you are so that you can drive positive change in the future and live a longer – and healthier life.