What Is Your Biological Age and Can You Reverse It?
We’re all aging, but we’re not aging at the same rate. Sure, the length of a year is the same for all of us (unless you’re reading this from somewhere other than Earth, in which case, hello!), but our years contain things that can make our bodies age faster, slower, or theoretically in reverse.
Your chronological age refers to the number of years that have passed since your birth, while your biological age pertains to how old your body appears from a biological standpoint. In other words, your biological age signifies your body's condition relative to your chronological age. It encompasses how well your cells and tissues are able to function and repair themselves.
This is why two people, both 50 years old, can have vastly different body compositions, levels of strength, cognitive abilities, and appearances. Some of this has to do with genetic variations, but shockingly little, which leaves quite a lot of room for you to take action on how rapidly you age. Let’s dive deeper into what this means, and craft a protocol you can use to slow your rate of biological aging.
Biological Age vs. Chronological Age: What's the Difference?
Your chronological age is a fixed number that increases as you celebrate more birthdays. You have no control over this age, as it's purely based on the progression of time. While there is a lot of social stigma around the birthdays that denote “getting older,” like your 40th, 50th, or 60th birthdays, it could be helpful to reframe these landmarks as “leveling up.” Instead of buying into the ageist belief that any certain age makes you “old,” consider each birthday a new level and open yourself up to even bigger celebrations as that number grows.
Your biological age is a more flexible measure. It signifies the rate at which your body is aging physically, and virtually everything in your life can affect this rate of aging.
While biological age is influenced by hereditary factors and diseases, it's largely determined by lifestyle choices, including diet, physical activity, sleep, and stress management. Therefore, it's possible to have a biological age that's significantly lower or higher than your chronological age.
Why You Need to Know Your Biological Age
Knowing your biological age can provide valuable insights into your overall health status. It can reveal if your body is functioning like that of a fit, health-conscious 30-something or a sedentary, unhealthy 60-year-old. Testing can expose silent markers of age-associated decline, such as reduced lung capacity, impaired heart health, low bone density, and cognitive decline.
Current biological age tests measure the rate of epigenetic aging, the changes to the methyl tags attached to DNA that change how your genes are expressed, or the length of the telomere caps at the ends of your chromosomes. These markers are less visible but can make you more susceptible to the deterioration seen in aging, including progressive loss of function and age-related health concerns.
Moreover, your biological age can serve as a wake-up call, inspiring you to make necessary lifestyle changes to improve your health and potentially reverse your biological age. It’s never too late to take action: as long as you are still breathing you can take steps to be healthier.
How to Determine Your Biological Age
Tests that analyze your DNA for specific age-related markers provide the most precise determination of your biological age. These tests, which often involve taking a blood or saliva sample, measure factors like DNA methylation or telomere length, both biomarkers of aging.
Additional testing can include blood-based markers, measurements of breathing capacity and cardiovascular fitness, strength and mobility, memory recall, and sensory function tests.
You can test your biological age at home with no lab visit required using the TruMe test kit. It’s a methylation-based test that can give you important insights about how quickly you’re actually aging. Armed with this information, you can tailor your longevity plan to match your needs, from minimal intervention if you’re happy with your results, to a diet, lifestyle, and supplement makeover if your biological age is higher than you expect. For help creating a personalized supplement plan to rewind your biological clock, talk to a Nutrition Pro for free and get recommendations for your exact needs.
Is Reversing Your Biological Age Possible?
Recent research suggests that it's possible to reverse your biological age. For instance, a pioneering study known as the TRIIM (Thymus Regeneration, Immunorestoration, and Insulin Mitigation) trial demonstrated that individuals could reduce their biological age by implementing specific diet and lifestyle changes.
Participants in the TRIIM study followed a protocol that included a plant-heavy diet, adequate hydration, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and stress management activities. Additionally, they took certain supplements, including probiotics and phytonutrients.
The result? The participants experienced a significant reversal in their biological age, with an average decrease of 2.5 years over the one-year study period.
To support immunorestoration, you can try Thymic Protein A, or TPA. This complete protein is identical to what your thymus produces normally, but since thymic activity is so dramatically decreased after adolescence, TPA is a reasonable way to support healthy immunity for older adults.
Age Reversal Protocol
What can we learn from these recent trials, and how can we formulate a flexible protocol that targets the Hallmarks of Aging? As seen in the TRIIM study above, including a wide variety of plants and including supplements like phytonutrients and probiotics can help move the marker. In addition, consider the following action steps based on the landmark paper that described the Hallmarks of Aging:
Targeting DNA Methylation with Diet and Supplements:
Folate and Vitamin B12: These vitamins are crucial for maintaining DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mechanism involved in aging.
Diet: Include leafy greens, legumes, and fortified foods for natural folate; animal products for B12.
Addressing Telomere Length:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: May support telomere length maintenance.
Physical Exercise: Aerobic exercise has been linked to longer telomeres.
Mitochondrial Function and Autophagy:
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Supports mitochondrial health.
Caloric Restriction or Intermittent Fasting: Activates autophagy, the cell's cleaning process.
Reducing Oxidative Stress:
Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E, polyphenols (found in berries, nuts, and green tea).
Reduced Exposure to Environmental Toxins: Minimize pollution and exposure to harmful chemicals.
Resveratrol: A supplement that may activate SIRT1, a protein linked to longevity.
NAD+ Boosters: Supplements like NMN or NR to boost NAD+ levels, important for sirtuin function.
Curcumin (from Turmeric): Has anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega-3 Supplements: Fish oil or algae oil for vegan options.
Stress Management and Hormesis:
Mindfulness Practices: Meditation and yoga for stress reduction.
Cold Exposure or Saunas: Brief stressors that can trigger beneficial biological responses.
Sleep Hygiene: Adequate and quality sleep is crucial for cellular repair processes.
Regular Exercise: Both resistance and cardio training.
The Future of Age Reversal
The ability to reverse biological age is an exciting scientific field of study with profound implications for human health and longevity. By understanding our biological age and taking proactive steps to reverse it, we can potentially extend our healthspan, live a more vibrant life, and significantly reduce our risk for age-related decline.
Researchers are working hard to find solutions to the problem of aging, and many of these can be tracked on the Roadmap from Lifespan.IO, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting breakthrough longevity research.
In conclusion, understanding your biological age and the potential for its reversal is a significant step towards achieving optimal health and longevity. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, you can potentially reverse your biological age and enjoy a more vibrant, energetic, and healthy life—irrespective of the number of candles on your birthday cake.
Remember, while you can't control your chronological age (and why would you want to, you’re leveling up!), you're in the driver's seat when it comes to your biological age. With the right tools and lifestyle changes, you can potentially turn back the clock and age more slowly, maintaining your youthful energy, strength, and cognition. After all, age is just a number—it's how you feel and function that truly matters.
- Sagers L, Melas-Kyriazi L, Patel CJ, Manrai AK. Prediction of chronological and biological age from laboratory data. Aging (Albany NY). 2020;12(9):7626-7638. doi:10.18632/aging.102900
- Fitzgerald KN, Hodges R, Hanes D, et al. Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Aging (Albany NY). 2021;13(7):9419-9432. doi:10.18632/aging.202913
- Bortz J, Guariglia A, Klaric L, et al. Biological age estimation using circulating blood biomarkers. Commun Biol. 2023;6(1):1-10. doi:10.1038/s42003-023-05456-z
- Fahy GM, Brooke RT, Watson JP, et al. Reversal of epigenetic aging and immunosenescent trends in humans. Aging Cell. 2019;18(6):e13028. doi:10.1111/acel.13028
- Amenyah SD, Ward M, Strain JJ, et al. Nutritional epigenomics and age-related disease. Curr Dev Nutr. 2020;4(7):nzaa097. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzaa097
- Madison AA, Belury MA, Andridge R, et al. Omega-3 supplementation and stress reactivity of cellular aging biomarkers: an ancillary substudy of a randomized, controlled trial in midlife adults. Mol Psychiatry. 2021;26(7):3034-3042. doi:10.1038/s41380-021-01077-2
- Hernández-Camacho JD, Bernier M, López-Lluch G, Navas P. Coenzyme q10 supplementation in aging and disease. Frontiers in Physiology. 2018;9. Accessed January 8, 2024. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2018.00044
- Isaksson C. Urbanization, oxidative stress and inflammation: a question of evolving, acclimatizing or coping with urban environmental stress. Hahs A, ed. Functional Ecology. 2015;29(7):913-923. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12477
- Sarubbo F, Esteban S, Miralles A, Moranta D. Effects of resveratrol and other polyphenols on sirt1: relevance to brain function during aging. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2018;16(2):126-136. doi:10.2174/1570159X15666170703113212
- Imai S ichiro, Guarente L. It takes two to tango: NAD+ and sirtuins in aging/longevity control. NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2016;2:16017. doi:10.1038/npjamd.2016.17
- Peng Y, Ao M, Dong B, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin in the inflammatory diseases: status, limitations and countermeasures. DDDT. 2021;Volume 15:4503-4525. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S327378
- Lemay V, Hoolahan J, Buchanan A. Impact of a yoga and meditation intervention on students’ stress levels. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2019;83(5):7001. doi:10.5688/ajpe7001
- Bellesi M, Bushey D, Chini M, Tononi G, Cirelli C. Contribution of sleep to the repair of neuronal DNA double-strand breaks: evidence from flies and mice. Sci Rep. 2016;6(1):36804. doi:10.1038/srep36804