More than a decade ago, a UCLA professor named Dr Steve Hovarth devised a method to measure what he called a biological age. This was based on the premise that human beings have two ages. One is the chronological age, and the other is the biological age.
As part of his invention, which he dubbed GrimAge, Hovarth asserted that biological age could hold the answers to long life. Researchers have taken the idea of biological ageing and carried out several studies to understand what it is, how it differs from chronological age, and what it indicates for individuals.
In this article, we’ll discuss biological and chronological ageing and how they affect the body.
What is Chronological Ageing?
Chronological ageing is the normal ageing we know of. It is measured in the years a person has lived since birth. A person’s chronological age isn’t influenced by any outside event, such as their lifestyle or diet. But, chronological age can influence health.
For instance, older people are more likely to develop dementia or other age-related diseases. This statement is premised on the idea that older chronological ages are associated with certain health conditions.
What is Biological Ageing?
Biological age refers to the age of the body’s internal system. The biological age of individuals often varies from their chronological ages. Unlike chronological age, biological age can be influenced by outside factors such as an individual’s lifestyle, geographical zone, and genetics.
Biological ageing is based on the changes that occur in the body as a person ages. These measurable chemical changes ideally occur at certain ages. In an ideal situation, chronological and biological ages should tally or at least be very close.
But situations are not ideal, and the difference between chronological and biological ages is based on the idea that one could be a certain chronological age, but their body systems have aged far more or less than their actual calendar ages.
Earlier, I mentioned how calendar age ranges are used to calculate an individual’s predisposition to certain age-related diseases. That idea was based on the changes that occur within the body system as a person ages. Based on that, a biological age blood test better predicts one’s predisposition to these diseases.
For example, consider an individual who is 65 years of age but has maintained his health and has a biological age of 45. While his calendar age places him at risk for diseases like dementia, his biological age says otherwise.
This shows how biological ageing is more accurate at predicting the health of individuals than chronological ages.
How To Determine Biological Age Testing
Dr Hovarth didn’t just dump a lot of information about biological ageing, he also came up with a biological age testing method. He called it the Grim Age, and it worked based on epigenetics. Many companies like Elysium and GlycanAge have testing kits for people who want to test their ages.
There are two ways to measure biological age.
- Measuring telomere length;
- Measuring DNA methylation in blood.
Telomere length is a strong biomarker for biological ageing. Longer telomere lengths have been associated with slower biological ageing, longer life spans and less predisposition to health diseases. Telomere length is affected by lifestyle choices, habits, diet, and genetics. In fact, one study found that adult women have much longer telomere lengths than men.
The other method uses DNA methylation. As the body ages, parts of the DNA get methylated while other parts become de-methylated. One can determine one’s biological age by measuring these parts using epigenetics.
Ways To Improve Your Biological Age
Since biological age is the major indicator for longevity and disease predisposition, is there anything you can do to reduce the rate at which you age biologically?
Yes. As I mentioned earlier. It comes down to lifestyle. You can make some lifestyle changes today to improve your biological age.
- Eating healthy;
- Getting enough sleep every night;
- Managing stress;
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol;
- Making connections with friends and family;
- Taking care of your mental health.
Your biological age is the actual representation of how old you are, even better than your chronological age. Staying healthy and making better lifestyle choices can set you up for biological youthfulness even when you’re old.