How old are you?
It seems like a simple question. We determine our age based on when we are born. But is it the correct way? It looks like biological age is more accurate and telling.
Let’s go through the “clocks” that can help us to evaluate our real age.
Chronological age is the total time that has passed from birth to a specific date. Chronological age is the most common way of defining age.
Yet we all know people who are the same age but look different. Some look much younger their age, while others seem to age too fast. Sometimes it is referred to as an Appearance age.
Psychological age is how old you feel, act, and behave and is thus not necessarily equal to your chronological age.
Different age groups have different behaviors and thought processes. Some people might “act young” or “act old” regardless of age. This is where the concept of psychological age comes in. Do you enjoy life? Are you emotionally mature? Do you fill optimistic about your future? Various factors affect our psychological age. It is believed that most people feel about eight years younger than their age.
Spectacular Salsa – Paddy & Nicko | Britain’s Got Talent 2014
(At the moment, Paddy was one week before her 80th birthday!)
There are many free online tests using various scoring algorithms that can help you to evaluate your psychological age. We are listing just a few of them:
Social age is similar to the psychological age. However, psychological age is based on emotional development and logical abilities, but social age is based on behaviors based on social interactions.
The social age is a reflection of the place occupied by an individual at a particular point in time within the society to which he/she belongs. It is defined by change: changes in how we work, how we learn, how we lead, and how we connect and communicate.
Individuals whose social lifestyles are the same as those of their age peers would have a social age the same as their chronological age. If their lifestyles are more characteristic of those found in older individuals, their social age would be higher than their chronological age, and vice versa.
A simple-variable measure of social age was developed by regressing chronological age on a number of social correlates of age. The correlates tapped lifestyles relating to family, work, and retirement. The estimated age, in units of years, was taken as the social age. This concept is utilized during studies and society evaluations. We did not find any accessible tests online to determine our social age.
Often, social age is associated with mental age, a concept related to intelligence. You can find many tests for mental age by a simple engine search. An individual’s mental age is then divided by his chronological age and multiplied by 100, yielding an intelligence quotient (IQ).
Psychological aging, depression, and well-being
Social and Emotional Aging
Age is much more than the number of birthdays you have counted. Stress, sleep, diet, and many other factors influence how our organs cope with the wear and tear of everyday life. Factors like these might make you age faster or slower than people born on the same day. People of the same chronological age are not all at the same risk for developing cardiovascular disease or cancer or even dying.
Biological age refers to the accumulation of damage at the biological level. It is what determines our health and, ultimately, our lifespan, and it has been observed to predict age-related diseases and overall mortality better than chronological age.
Biological age is a measurement of your age based on biomarkers which are the function of the body’s vital organs. The aging process results in multiple traceable footprints on the molecular, cellular, organ, and functional level. These footprints can be tracked and quantified to estimate our biological age. Sensitive and quantifiable methodologies are required to precisely measure the rate of biological aging, especially since age-related changes primarily take place on the molecular and cellular level, gradually over the span of months and years.
In general, a person’s phenotypic age signifies the age within the general population that corresponds with that person’s mortality risk. For example, two individuals could be 50 years old chronologically, but one may have a phenotypic age of 55 years, indicating that he/she has the average mortality risk of someone who is 55 years old chronologically, whereas the other may have a phenotypic age of 45 years, indicating that he/she has the average mortality risk of someone who is 45 years old chronologically.
There are several different aging calculators that have been developed using the results from a basic blood test. Phenotypic age evaluation is the most well-researched. It is developed by Dr. Steven Horvath and his team based on the epigenetic clock theory of aging.
Arguably, epigenetic clocks that measure DNA methylation in the blood are currently the most accurate and promising estimates of determining biological age.
Epigenetic alterations, which are one of the nine hallmarks of aging, have been widely studied over the past ten years. Their in-depth study has led to an understanding of age-related changes affecting different epigenetic mechanisms, namely DNA methylation, histone modifications, and chromatin remodeling.
DNA methylation is a process in which methyl groups (CH3) graft onto specific DNA sites, thus condensing chromatin and preventing gene expression (switching the gene off). The specific sites targeted by methylation are cytosines (one of the four DNA bases). Increased amounts of methylation disrupt the normal function of the cell so that it can’t efficiently do the job it’s designed for. This decline in efficiency is the underlying cause of what we think of as the signs of aging: changes in hair color, the appearance of wrinkles, joint pain, and so on.
These changes in the methylation state of a gene can be measured, thus constituting biological markers of aging. The variation of these epigenetic phenomena during aging is called the epigenetic clock and allows us to evaluate our biological age.
Phenotypic age is calculated using chronological age and 9 biomarkers (see below) from your typical blood test.
Few websites provide a calculator that you can use to determine your phenotypic age (it is free). I used the one from AgelessRX and found out that my phenotypic age is below my chronological one by more than 7 years. Good news for me. What about you?
A similar calculator is provided by Longevity Advantage.
9 Required Biomarkers (From Blood Test)
- Albumin – Liver function
- Alkaline Phosphatase – Liver function
- Creatinine – Kidney function
- Glucose – Metabolism
- C-reactive Protein – Inflammation
- Lymphocyte – Immune System
- Mean Cell Volume – Immune System
- Red Cell Distribution Width – Immune System
- White Blood Cells – Immune System
DNA methylation-based biomarkers and the epigenetic clock theory of ageing
Determination of Biological Age: Geriatric Assessment vs Biological Biomarkers
So, it counts the calories you burn without so much as lifting a finger. Though even when you are being a total couch potato, you are burning calories through things like breathing, digestion, and blood circulation.
BMR is not a factor in physical activity. This is important because about 60 to 75 percent of the calories you burn each day happen while you’re seemingly doing nothing. BMR is sometimes called resting metabolic rate (RMR).
In general, your metabolic age is your age according to your health status. What does that mean?
Basically, while you may be 45 years old, if you are in good health and take great care of your body, you may look and feel years younger—and your metabolic age could be 30 to 35.
But if you are 45 years old and in poor health with chronic conditions or you live a sedentary lifestyle and eat lots of processed and fast foods, your body may more closely resemble that of someone in their mid-50s or even older.
To estimate your BMR, you have to factor in your sex, height (in centimeters), weight (in kilograms), and age.
To get an idea, the most common formula is:
- For Men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
- For Women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
Or you can use an online calculator.
Telomere length measurement
Telomeres are the protective end caps of chromosomes and play a very important role in the aging process. As cells divide, telomeres shorten, and we age. So, telomere length can be used as a biomarker of aging or related diseases in the body.
The presence of very short telomeres may lead to the onset of age-related diseases.
There are various methods to measure average telomere length that may vary in different organs, tissues, and cells; shortest telomere, which is an important influencing factor for aging and many related diseases; telomere length distribution to explore the telomere changes; and telomere length dynamic analysis to assess the effects of different self and external factors on telomeres on aging and mortality.
Many methods have been developed to measure telomere length, such as TRF, qPCR, Q-FISH, etc.
Determination of telomere lengths by TRF (terminal restriction fragments) is based on Southern hybridization of genomic DNA cleaved with one or multiple frequently cutting restriction enzymes which do not have target sites in telomere DNA using telomere specific probes. The technique has been established since 1995. TRF analysis is also proposed as an accurate technique; however, due to its limitations for scalability, TRF remains mostly for lab research projects as opposed to commercial telomere testing.
The Q-PCR method determines the average telomere length by measuring the ratio of the telomere signal to the reference single copy gene signal. It is an over-the-counter telomere length test that uses a tool called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The principle of this method is that the abundance of telomere signal per genome measured by qPCR represents the average telomere length in a given DNA sample.
Quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization (Q-FISH) is a comprehensive method that allows the measuring of individual chromosome telomere length in a single cell with a resolution of 200 base pairs. The method is based on the use of a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) telomere oligonucleotide probe and appropriate digital image software for the capture and quantification of fluorescence signals. The length of the telomere is directly related to its integrated fluorescence intensity.
There are also some new methods under development, such as the Telomere length Combing Assay (TCA).
Comparison of telomere length measurement methods
Telomere Length: A Review of Methods for Measurement
One of the newest, and possibly lesser known, methods is looking at your glycans.
Every person in the world has a particular glycosylation pattern – a bit like DNA. But unlike DNA, we have the power to affect our glycans by improving our health and lifestyle.
Glycans are crucial for the functioning of our immune system. They surround and modify proteins in your body. More than half of all our proteins are glycosylated. In response to your lifestyle choices, glycans indicate the inflammatory state of your immune system, which in turn determines your biological age.
Glycans attached to the antibodies in our blood modulate their activity and determine if they will have a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory function.
As we age, the balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory glycans in our body changes. Various inflammatory effectors like excessive or unsuitable diet or fitness regimen, hormone changes, surrounding environment, ethnic background, etc., can cause an imbalance between pro and anti-inflammatory glycans. This leads to low-grade systemic inflammation, which can speed up the process of aging and increase the risk for many diseases.
The GlycanAge test looks at the glycosylation pattern of the immunoglobulin G (IgG) molecule. IgG is the most prevalent antibody type in our blood and is especially important in controlling inflammation and pathogens.
GlycanAge is the only test that responds to lifestyle changes that will allow you to, actually, follow up and evaluate your health status.
Telomere Length: A Review of Methods for Measurement
Glycans Are a Novel Biomarker of Chronological and Biological Ages
Evaluating your biological age gives you a powerful snapshot of your current health.
PS: How did you rate along these dimensions of age? How much do they agree, and how do they relate to your chronological age?
Now you can take one more test of your age—a test that may be the best of all. Ask yourself this very simple question: How old do you feel? Forget what the calendar says, and even forget what your test results are.
The age you feel is the most important factor determining your health and longevity.
What is next?
Aging and longevity are fast-developing areas of healthcare. New research studies and achievements are published every day. We will keep updating the information related to new tests and methods for aging evaluation. Be sure to check back.
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