Understanding Biological Age:

The Science Behind the Test and Why It Matters

What is biological age? In essence, it refers to how old our body seems relative to our actual chronological age. This concept deserves more attention because it’s closely related not only to overall health but also to risks of age-related diseases.

Let’s delve into the science behind this test first. Usually, experts use various biomarkers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, or lung capacity which are associated with aging processes in your body systems. Another modern method involves examining telomeres – the protective caps at the end of chromosomes that shorten every time a cell divides; a shorter length indicates higher biological age.

The correlation between shortened telomere length and increased disease risk has led scientists to understand its significance on human lifespans significantly better.

A good analogy for biological vs chronological aging would be comparing cars made in the same year – while some might appear aged due to excess wear and tear despite being newer (higher bio-age), others may look brand new if maintained rigorously (lower bio-age). Much like car maintenance affects its performance over the years, so do lifestyle habits influence one’s biological aging process.

Now let us touch upon why knowing your ‘biological’ clock matters.

Chronologically speaking you could be 45 years old according to your birth certificate but have biology similar to an unhealthy senior citizen instead! Therefore this measure takes into consideration both genetic factors along quality-of-life measures inclusive of general physical conditions; hence providing a far accurate assessment of a person’s likely lifespan compared to just numerical figures represented by birthday count alone.

Furthermore, studies reveal people with high ‘bio-ages’ tend to develop chronic illnesses sooner and live longer than those with lower scores thereby emphasizing the importance of carefully managing lifestyles keeping these figures checked through regular medical screenings, routine tests, etc.

A renowned test called “Horvath’s Clock,” devised by Steve Horvath from UCLA’s Fielding School Public Health, measures DNA methylation levels – alteration of genes without changing its sequence – highly correlated with chronological aging(1).

In Malaysia’s context where heart disease remains the leading cause of death among citizens, relevance of assessing their individual Bio-Ages becomes especially poignant since most of them stem from poor lifestyle choices i.e lack of exercise, unhealthy diets smoking or excessive alcohol consumption etc which are all contributory factors leading up increased bio age.

Understanding biological age is important as it gives a realistic perspective on one’s health. It provides a clear picture of how quickly the body may be aging compared to the average and reiterates the significance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being proactive about regular check-ups which play a key role in controlling this ‘hidden’ clock hence adding quality years Malaysian citizens lives saving them devastating effects avoidable illnesses in future process!

Remember “Prevention is always better than cure!” Take control of your life and make decisions that benefit you in the long run beneficial universally agreed upon knowledge applicable regardless of geographical boundaries and cultural distinctions alike – after all we’re talking general human welfare isn’t it?

References:

  1. Horvath S. (2013) DNA methylation age human tissue cells. Genome biology 14(10).
Functional medicine Malaysia doctor

Author:
Dr. Shirley Koeh
Date:
04 September 2023