WHAT’S YOUR TRUE AGE?

Biological vs Chronological Showdown

In our everyday lives, we typically measure age in years passed since birth, a concept known as chronological age. However, advancement of medicine offers us a more nuanced perspective – the idea of biological age. Although both these terms refer to age, they encapsulate different facets of life, health, and well-being.

What is Chronological Age?

Chronological age is straightforward: the number of years a person has lived. It’s a universal measure used in everything from legal documents to birthday cake decorations. This form of age is absolute, precise, and linear – every twelve months, you gain another year.

What is Biological Age? The Body’s Clock

On the other hand, biological age is like a personal health score based on various factors affecting your body’s health and wellness. Your biological age might differ from the number of candles on your birthday cake. It represents the current state of your physical and mental health, revealing the true state of your health rather than your chronological age.

Biological age takes into account a variety of health and lifestyle factors that impact the rate at which a person ages. These factors include genetics, diet, physical activity levels, stress, sleep quality, and exposure to environmental elements. As a result, two people with the same chronological age might have vastly different biological ages, depending on these influencing elements.

Biological Age Vs. Chronological Age: Why Does It Matter?

Traditionally, many health risks have been associated with chronological age. For instance, the risk of developing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers increases as we get older. However, these risks can vary significantly depending on your lifestyle, your environment, and even your state of mind. This is where your biological age becomes a vital metric.

Think of it this way: two cars might have been manufactured in the same year, but one has been meticulously maintained and seldom used, while the other has racked up hundreds of thousands of miles and has been poorly serviced. The two vehicles are the same chronological age, but the latter is “older” in a functional sense.

Your biological age provides a more accurate assessment of your overall health because it reflects the condition of your body and mind. For example, someone who exercises regularly, eats a balanced diet, and manages their stress levels may have a lower biological age compared to another person of the same chronological age who leads a sedentary lifestyle, eats poorly, and suffers from chronic stress.

Can You Influence Your Biological Age?

Study shows that aging itself has been identified as a common driver of chronic diseases.[1]  By slowing down or even reversing the biological aging process, it can effectively prevent the occurrence of chronic diseases. The good news is that unlike chronological age, you can influence or even reverse your biological age. This includes:[2]

  • Regular exercise
  • A balanced, nutrient-rich diet
  • Adequate sleep
  • Stress management techniques like meditation or yoga
  • Intermittent fasting

Conclusion

The journey of aging involves more than just the passing of years. It’s an intricate interplay of lifestyle choices, genetics, and environmental exposures. Understanding the difference between your biological and chronological age, and making choices that positively influence your biological age, could lead you towards a path of improved health and longevity. In essence, you have the power to redefine what your age means to you. Embrace it, and live not just longer, but healthier.

References

1. Kennedy BK, Berger SL, Brunet A, Campisi J, Cuervo AM, Epel ES, Franceschi C, Lithgow GJ, Morimoto RI, Pessin JE, Rando TA, Richardson A, Schadt EE, et al. Geroscience: linking aging to chronic disease. Cell. 2014; 159:709–13.

2. Fitzgerald KN, Hodges R, Hanes D, Stack E, Cheishvili D, Szyf M, Henkel J, Twedt MW, Giannopoulou D, Herdell J, Logan S, Bradley R. Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Aging (Albany NY). 2021; 13:9419–32.

Functional medicine Malaysia doctor

Author:
Dr. Shirley Koeh
Date:
22 June 2023

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