You may have heard the saying that “60 is the new 40” or “40 is the new 20,” but what does this truly mean? Here is how I see it. When you look at the calendar, it may say that you are 60 years old, which is your chronological age. Your body, however, has the potential to function and feel more like you are 40 years old. This is called biological age, or the age your cells are acting, that could be much younger than your chronological age!
Measuring Your Chronological and Biological Age
Calculating your chronological age is simple. You take today’s date, subtract your birth date and you have your chronological age! Since biological age is a measure of how old your cells are acting, calculating it requires testing. You need to determine the specific age at which the cellular and biological functions of your body are performing. So how do we find out our biological age? The most promising and convenient way to measure it is with an at-home saliva-based test measuring your DNA methylation. Research has shown that DNA methylation patterns indicate aging and are a good measure of the potential onset of chronic diseases related to aging. Longevity scientists agree that attempting a direct influence on DNA methylation could reset our DNAmAge (or biological age) towards a “younger”, healthier cell metabolism. If we are able to delay aging, we will likely help our bodies ward off the onset of chronic disease, maintain functional capacity, and reduce complications from infectious diseases.
Impacts on Biological Age
We have established that our biological age is important for an investment in long-term health. Now we need to consider what we do to affect our biological age. What influences can cause it to increase or decrease? There are three main factors that impact biological age:
- Genetics: Your DNA acts as a roadmap for all cellular operation and function. We must consider what has an effect on your DNA and how your DNA is expressed. This is called epigenetics. DNA can be thought of as the body’s computer hardware and epigenetics as the software program that allows the specific functions to be expressed and performed. Biological and environmental are the two main influencing factors.
- Biological: The body may lack one or more key metabolic components to maintain healthy cell function and balance. Or, you could have an existing acute or chronic disease state. A good example of a biological impact would be a deficiency in AKG (alpha-ketoglutarate), an endogenous metabolite. AKG is essential for every cell in the body to produce energy.
- Environmental: The last main category includes your lifestyle choices, which I consider environmental factors. This involves: activity and stress levels; your diet (the foods you eat); smoking; excess sun or pollution exposure. All of your healthy or unhealthy choices can have an influence on cellular aging. Your cells instinctively divide, multiply and perform basic biological functions. Cells age the more they divide and eventually lose ability to properly function. Cellular damage can also increase as your cells age and are exposed to behavioral and environmental stressors like smoking, sedentary lifestyle, sun damage, poor diet and emotional stress, which all increase inflammation in the body.
Turning Back Your Biological Age
Logic tells us a younger biological age is preferable to one that’s older. Drastic lifestyle alteration is one potential route to decrease biological age. We are able to keep cells young by avoiding environmental stressors that age cells such as excess sun, pollution exposure and smoking in addition to maintaining a healthy diet, intermittent fasting, in addition to regular exercise daily. Studies have proven that fasting and exercise can reduce biological age, but only by about two years, after more than one year of rigorous lifestyle changes. This requires a lot of effort for little return.
Now there are more ways to reduce biological age as discoveries change the way we can potentially influence our biological age. The journal Aging recently published a randomized retrospective study that showed that taking a blend of calcium-AKG (CaAKG) for seven months decreased biological age by an average of eight years. A notable aspect is that the participants in the study made no lifestyle changes!
How could taking a dietary supplement affect biological age so efficiently? One possible explanation is that biological age is tied to methylation of your DNA. Our DNA methylation patterns change with age, which can alter and turn off the way our genes are expressed. Your body produces AKG. As you age the amount of AKG tapers off, especially between the ages of 40 and 80 when AKG levels can decline 10-fold. What heightens this issue is the fact that your body cannot get AKG from food. Maintenance of AKG levels in your body requires supplementation. Not all supplements do the trick, so consider a timed-released form of CaAKG produced at a high potency and purity for increased absorption and effect.
Science is proving that lowering our biological age matters most as we continually learn how to maintain good health and resist disease. Our focus should be less on how long we live, and more on how long we can live well. To do this, give your best to your health and well-being, take in every moment of every day and strive to make positive, meaningful lifestyle changes.
Dr. Francis Palmer is a world-renowned, board-certified facial plastic surgeon, and author of What’s Your Number? with more than three decades of practical experience in medicine. He consults as chief medical officer for Ponce de Leon Health, the makers of Rejuvant, a company dedicated to developing drug-free solutions scientifically proven to extend overall longevity, while simultaneously increasing healthspan and reducing biological age for better health. An honors graduate of San Diego State University, Palmer received his medical degree from the University of California – Irvine. Following his residency at USC-LA County Medical Center, he completed a fellowship with the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and is board certified in that specialty.
Study: Aging: Rejuvant, a potential life-extending compound formulation with alpha-ketoglutarate and vitamins, conferred an average 8 year reduction in biological aging, after an average of 7 months of use, in the TruAge DNA methylation test