Dr. Dilraj Kalsi (Dr Dil) is a "lifestyle doctor" who runs Hippocrates Lounge, a customized lifestyle clinic that aims to solve long-term illnesses through eating, moving, thinking and sleeping. In collaboration with Chronomics, Dr. Dil will assess the impact of lifestyle changes on patients’ health and disease risk. In this article, Dr. Dil discusses biological age, why it is related to your health, and the most important thing is what measures you can take to improve it and fight against diseases such as cancer, dementia, and heart disease.
What is biological age?
This is not to say how many birthdays you have passed.
With age, the risk of diseases such as cancer, dementia and heart disease is getting higher and higher. By measuring the biological age, we can gain insight into the risk of these diseases. This is difficult because there are too many mechanisms to discard: metabolism, stress hormones and telomeres (the tip of a shoelace equivalent to a DNA chain) and so on.
Studies of epigenetic indicators have shown that DNA methylation (remember, more DNAm = less gene expression) decreases with age. Therefore, over time, we will lose control of gene expression, leading to increased inflammation, decreased cell and DNA repair, and damage to mitochondria (the engine room of cells), leading to biological senescence.
What is the importance of biological age?
Accelerated biological aging is related to shortened lifespan and many diseases:
- Lung and breast cancer;
- Heart and blood vessel diseases;
- And dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, alcohol intake and overtraining can accelerate physical aging. Therefore, physical age reflects our risk of disease and is affected by disease risk factors. It is the perfect mark of overall health, but...
How to measure physiological age?
This is the difficulty, you can first look at the aging process including those mechanisms:
It's not even all here.
Every "XXXomics" you can think of has been developed to measure biological age: genomics; transcriptomics; proteomics; metabolomics, etc. However, the epigenetic clock released by Professor Steve Horvath's team in 2013 is by far the most accurate predictor of age. More usefully, this biological age DNA test can be performed on any type of human tissue and can predict any cause of death. Thankfully, Chronomics has developed this technology so that everyone can use it.
How to improve physical age?
Large companies such as Calico, funded by Google, are committed to finding curative drugs that can reverse aging; but with such a complex system, you can actually only change one thing-"input". The epigenetic physiological age test shows that our lifestyle and environment have a significant impact on aging, which means that you can make some changes in your daily life to slow down your physical aging and reduce the risk of disease:
- EAT-Eat more vegetables, eat lean meat, drink alcohol in moderation
- MOVE – Exercise regularly; integrate with daily life, even if it’s just going up the stairs more often
- THINK-Minimize the impact of traumatic stress by finding tools to deal with daily stress
- SLEEP – The goal is 8 hours of quality; measure sleep and try simple things such as reducing caffeine and screen time (if needed)