The body ages in two ways. The first is chronological, which we celebrate yearly to commemorate our birthday. The second way is biological. The biological or body age is a less known and difficult-to-calculate age that indicates how much our body has aged. This includes the organs, the cellular processes, and the hormones. Because the human body changes its processes as we age, phasing things out and introducing new things, it is possible to see how far our bodies have aged.
The thing about body age that is different from chronologic age is the timeline. In the latter, we age linearly from year to year, while in the former, the body ages both backwards and forwards depending on the state of the individual’s lifestyle, nutrition, and other factors that affect biological age.
Understanding the Impact of Biological Age
Biological age provides an important insight into the current state of our overall health, as well as potential future medical conditions that could affect our life expectancy. For example, individuals with chronic diseases tend to have a higher biological age than their chronological age. This could indicate that the disease is accelerating their rate of ageing and could lead to serious health issues in the future if not managed properly.
Having known what body age is, the question then is, how can you measure your body age?
There’s obviously the option of using age test kits from companies like GlycanAge, Elysium Health, etc. Outside these age test kits, there are two ways you could measure how much your cells and organs have grown.
Lifestyle affects biological age a lot. This is because the compounded effect of bad lifestyle choices like diet affects the organs and cells in the body. Lifestyle choices either fast-track your body’s ageing or reverse it by a few years, which is why you will be deducting or adding years to your current chronological age to get a range for your body age.
Here are some important lifestyle choices to consider if you decide to test your biological age.
Alcohol and Smoking
Smoking and drinking alcohol regularly is bad news for the body and organs. Heart diseases, cancer, early ageing, etc., are some side effects of regular imbibing.
Here’s how to calculate:
- Subtract 1 from your score if you don’t drink at all and 0.5 if you drink within the daily guidelines;
- Add 2 years if you exceed the daily alcohol drinking limits regularly;
- Subtract 3 from your score if you do not and have never smoked;
- Subtract 2 if you quit smoking a minimum of 5 years ago and 1 if you quit anytime in the last four years;
- Add 3 years if you smoke now.
Unhealthy Diet or Overeating
Diet is essential for slow body ageing. Include more vegetables, protein, and fibre in your diet. Cut down on the amount of unhealthy food you consume, such as processed foods, drinks with high calories, fried food and food rich in saturated fats.
- Add 1 year if you don’t eat healthily on most days.
Your body needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night to repair your body, store memories and rest your organs. Not sleeping well puts you at risk for diseases like stroke, high blood pressure, and stroke. To calculate body age using sleep, use the following guide:
- Subtract 2 years if you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep most nights;
- Add 1 year if you get less than six hours of sleep most nights;
- Add 2 years if you get less than five hours of sleep most nights.
Being overweight puts you at high risk for various age-related health conditions. Some of them include diabetes, Arthritis, High blood pressure, etc. Body weight has a significant impact on body age. Don’t just measure your weight on a scale, calculate your body mass index (BMI). The BMI is a better measure of what your ideal weight should be.
Here’s how you can calculate body age based on it.
- If you’re underweight with a BMI less than 18.5, add 1 year;
- If your BMI falls between 18.5 to 25, subtract 1;
- If your BMI is overweight at 25 -29.9, add 2 years;
- If your BMI is more than 30, add 3.
If you can, also go for a full body fat analysis to know how much fat you’ve got and how to calculate your body age using that information.
Benefits of a Low Biological Age
A lower biological age has many benefits beyond improved longevity. This can result in improved physical strength and health, improved mental acuity, increased energy and vitality, increased likelihood of living without the need for chronic medications or treatments, improved quality of life and overall wellbeing.
Strategies for Lowering Your Biological Age
There are many easy strategies for lowering your biological age. Exercise regularly and incorporate strength training into your routine. This helps build muscle and improve strength and flexibility, supporting more youthful body composition. Make sure to get enough sleep. Adequate sleep is important for reducing inflammation and stress levels and is linked to improved immune functioning and cognitive performance.
Lifestyle Choices That Affect Your Biological Age
In addition to physical activity and sleep, there are various lifestyle choices that can positively affect your biological age. Eating a nutritious diet rich in antioxidants can help decrease inflammation and enhance overall health and wellbeing. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars and limit alcohol consumption; this reduces oxidative stress and lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. Also, find ways to manage stress effectively, such as through yoga or meditation, to reduce hormone levels associated with ageing.
Note that these DIY methods serve to give you a fair idea of what your biological age is. It cannot give you an accurate figure, so the best way to measure your body age is via body age tests that accurately measure biological age using blood or saliva. Regardless, you can use the information from these DIY body tests to restructure your lifestyle and improve your biological age.