Every person has two ages: a chronological and biological age. We talk more about the latter below.
In this article:
- Chronological Age Vs Biological Age
- How to Determine Biological Age
- Importance of Knowing What My Biological Age, i.e., Real Age Is
- How to Turn Back the Biological Clock
Biological Age Definition, Importance, and Reversal: All You Need to Know
Chronological Age Vs Biological Age
Chronological age refers to one’s calendar or actual age, i.e., number of years alive since birth. On the other hand, biological age refers to how old a person’s cells are, i.e., one’s body age.
Another key difference between these two is permanence. While chronological age is neither reversible nor stoppable, biological aging is reversible.
Environmental factors also affect the latter. Time is the only factor that determines chronological age, while several factors influence biological aging, like:
- Daily activity level
Chronological age can be the same or different, i.e., one is older or younger than the other. On the other hand, biological age is older than chronological age.
How to Determine Biological Age
Telomeres hold the key to how young or old one’s cells are.
Telomeres Definition: The ends of a DNA strand, i.e., caps, that protect it. The longer the length of the telomeres, the younger the biological age, and the healthier a person is.
Many factors affect telomere length. One of them is DNA methylation, which refers to a type of epigenetic change that happens in the body.
Epigenetic Change Definition: Changes in the physical or external structure of DNA, i.e., how the body’s cells understand one’s genes
One thing to consider is that different parts and organs of the body have varying levels of DNA methylation, which is one of the most important biomarkers for aging. This means that in some organs and parts, telomeres are longer than others and, thus, have different biological ages.
When a person’s biological age is given, it’s presented as a mosaic or an “average” of all the cell ages. This is akin to a university student’s GPA, which is the average of all his or her grades from different subjects.
There are several ways of determining biological age, including using top-of-the-line digital weighing scales. Although these may not be accurate considering they don’t measure telomere length.
The best way to determine one’s biological age is to have blood samples-based tests done. Through blood samples, laboratories can measure methylation levels and/or telomere length throughout the body to determine one’s real age.
Importance of Knowing What My Biological Age or Real Age Is
People who know their real age can determine their cumulative rate of aging. This refers to how much people age every year, i.e., how fast a person’s aging process is.
The faster the cumulative rate of aging, the faster the aging process and the higher one’s mortality is.
For example, consider a person who’s only 50 years old with a real body age of 70 years old. This person’s cumulative rate of aging is 70 ÷ 50 = 1.40 years per chronological year of life.
Compare this to someone who is also 50 years old but whose physiological age is only 55. That person’s aging rate is only 1.10 per year, which means he or she is aging much slower.
People with older biological ages than chronological ones are at higher risk for developing age-related diseases lower life expectancy. The younger the biological age, the healthier a person is, and he or she is likely to live longer.
Biological age is important because it reflects essential health factors like:
- Cumulative health and lifestyle habits
- Stress management
Remember, lower biological age means longevity, while higher biological age means mortality.
How to Turn Back the Biological Clock
One key to reversing one’s biological age is managing controllable factors that affect it. These include diet, exercise, stress, and sleep.
One of the best things anyone can do to minimize telomere shortening is to eat an omega-3 fatty acids-rich diet.
Oxidative stress and inflammation are directly linked to telomere length. Controlling oxidative stress can help preserve telomere length and improve life expectancy.
Omega-3 fatty acids are very helpful in managing oxidative stress. Hence, increasing one’s daily consumption of omega-3s may help preserve or even reverse biological age.
Regular exercise can also help maintain or reverse one’s real or physiological age. In a published study in Preventive Medicine, researchers from Brigham Young University concluded that people who regularly get high levels of physical activity have significantly longer telomeres than sedentary people.
To keep the cells young, not all exercises are created equal. Studies have shown that moderate-intensity aerobic exercises tend to be the best fountain of youth among all exercise types.
How often and how long should one perform moderate-intensity aerobic exercises? Many studies recommend thrice a week for 45 minutes each.
Sleep is another important factor in keeping cells young and healthy. In one published study, chronic sleep deprivation negatively impacts biomarkers for cellular aging.
Biomarker Definition: Measurable indicator of biological processes
Getting enough sleep every night can be beneficial in maintaining or even turning back the cells’ clock.
Chronic high emotional and mental stress can lead to premature aging, too, according to studies. One published study, for example, established a significant association between shorter telomeres and anxiety disorders.
Considering how emotional and mental stress is linked to shorter telomeres, it’s important to learn how to manage stress well. Some ways to manage stress levels well include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Regular exercise
While chronological age is our “official” age, we should focus more on our biological age. By doing so, we can enjoy optimal health and longevity.
Do you know what your biological age is and if so, is it older or younger than your chronological one? Let us know in the comments section below.