When we think of ageing, we often think of certain processes or visible signs that happen to our body. Things like: wrinkles, sun damage, poor memory, lack of energy and strength, poor balance, decline in flexibility, reduced circulation, poor digestion, more stress, hair loss in some place and more in others, chronic disease, and a host of other signs.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “aging” (also correctly spelled “ageing”, as we choose to spell it) as “the process of growing old or showing signs of growing old”. While this definition may have sufficed for the nineteenth century when Mr. Webster was alive, new medical discoveries and biotechnological advancements have made the Webster definition of “aging” outmoded. Ageing, is a fact of life, however, looking, acting, and feeling your age doesn’t have to be! Ageing may be segregated into two very different concepts – chronological age and biological age.
The human body has two different ages: a chronological age and a biological age. Every year you get one year older, whether you like it or not. In celebrating these birthdays, you commemorate your advancing chronological age. The health and performance of your body systems – from mental and physical function to physical strength – reflects your biological age. Your chronological age is just a number that indicates how many years of life you have lived. The most important age is your biological age. Your biological age reveals how healthy your body is and can also be a predictor of your longevity. In other words, if you live a healthy life, your body can be younger than your chronological age. You can be younger than someone else your same chronological age who lives an unhealthy lifestyle. By living a healthy life, you can look younger, feel younger, and live longer than others your age.
Examples of longevity: If your chronological age is 40 years old and your biological age is 33 years old, it means you potentially will live 7 years longer. On the other hand, if your chronological age is 40 years old, and you live an unhealthy lifestyle, resulting in a biological age is 47 years old, then you potentially will live 7 years shorter and die younger.
You already know your chronological age, but how do you determine your biological age? There have been several assessments developed to determine an individual’s biological age. These involve analyzing a person’s health and physical measurements, such as height, weight, blood pressure, serum cholesterol levels, medical history, etc. It also involves a questionnaire assessing psychological health (such as level of stress and happiness), lifestyle habits (such as diet, exercise, nightly sleep, tobacco, and alcohol use, etc.), and other questions related to personal health and body age.
Of all the tests and questionnaires currently available to determine biological age, the RealAge® Test offered by Sharecare, Inc. (a digital health company), is probably the most scientifically accurate. The RealAge® Test is a free online biological age assessment that has been taken by more than 42 million people. This scientifically-based assessment shows the true age of the body you’re living in, which is the first step towards improving your well-being. Once your biological age (RealAge®) is determined, personalized recommendations on how you can lower your body’s biological/health age and increase your longevity are provided to you.
For more information, and to take the free RealAge® Test yourself so that you can determine your personal biological/health age, visit online at www.sharecare.com/static/realage.
“Anti-ageing” does not mean we are against ageing. We all age and get older. The definition of "anti-ageing" is to "delay, stop or retard the ageing processes." Ageing starts at the cellular level. Our bodies are made of cells, and ageing occurs when cells become weak and damaged, when cells being to lose their intracellular water, and their is cell death. As an infant, child and young adult, our body’s cells are strong, resilient and can make new cells. As the years advance, our body’s ability to generate new cells diminishes, cell death occurs, and the ageing process ensues.
The concept of anti-ageing is often a controversial topic as many question the possibility to stop or reverse the ageing process of our body. When we discussed the topic of chronological age vs. biological/health age, we learned that it is possible to be younger from a biological/health age standpoint than our actual chronological age. The key to our health, ageing, and longevity is mostly dependent on the way we live. Your lifestyle choices and habits effect your ageing process. For the most part, you are in control of the rate at which you age. If a person smokes a couple of packs of cigarettes, drinks an excessive amount of alcohol, engages in no physical activity, eats a diet excessively high in cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, and salt with no vegetables, and is constantly under mental distress each day, it will take a real toll on that person’s health and longevity. If that same person, quit smoking, quit drinking alcohol, ate a healthy low-fat vegetable-rich, plant-based diet while limiting sugar and salt intake, took appropriate nutritional and dietary supplements, did an hour of exercise, and reduced their mental stress every day, that person made several lifestyle changes that would have reduced many health-risks and would halt and reverse the ageing process in several areas in their body. Their biological/health age would improve by reducing their RealAge®, contributing to increased longevity. The longer they follow those healthy lifestyle, anti-ageing habits, the healthier and younger they will become. If another person, lived a very unhealthy lifestyle to the point where they had very high blood cholesterol levels with signs of atherosclerosis, became a type 2 diabetes, had high blood pressure, and had to take medications for all those conditions, and were also 55 pounds overweight, that person would have serious health issues that would accelerate their ageing process. If that same person changed to a healthier diet and lifestyle, resulting in a 55-pound weight loss, improved all their blood chemistries to normal levels to the point where they no longer needed medication and even reversed their atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, again their biologic/health age or RealAge® will change to a younger age and potentially have increased longevity. They would experience increased health, wellness, and anti-ageing.
There are also anti-ageing things you can do to prevent and reduce the physical signs of ageing, giving you a more youthful appearance. Of course, a healthy diet and lifestyle play a critical role in this regard. Taking care of and protecting your skin against environmentally-caused skin damage is important. Excessive exposure to the sun can lead to sun damage and premature ageing and wrinkling of the skin. Proper external care is critical to address the skin as it is the biggest organ and the first line of defense for the body. Every day, skin should be properly cleansed, treated to repair damage, and hydrated as well as protected to fortify the skin barrier function and protect the epidermis (the outer layer of the two layers that make up the skin) from external factors such as ultraviolet (UV) rays and environmental pollution. These examples, illustrate the point that positive, healthy changes in lifestyle habits can stop or reverse the process of accelerated ageing of the body, both internally and externally.
Dr. John Westerdahl is a Board Certified Anti-Aging Health Practitioner and active member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Westerdahl utilizes the latest advanced scientific technologies in assessing, testing, and evaluation regarding your health and lifestyle as it relates to the ageing process. He can tailor a science-based nutritional and anti-ageing lifestyle program to help you achieve optimal health and longevity. Call Dr. Westerdahl at (805) 722-7958 to make an appointment.
The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) is dedicated to the advancement of tools, technology, and transformations in healthcare that can detect, treat, and prevent diseases associated with ageing. A4M further promotes the research of practices and protocols that have the potential to optimize the human ageing process.