Posted by Ramneek S. Bhogal, DC, DABCI on Jun 4, 2021 2:46:31 PM
The fundamental questions of why and how we age are central to living the healthiest life possible. It makes sense that humans want to understand how we can age with grace, stay healthy, and truly enjoy life with vigor and vitality.
To respond to this widespread desire to answer these questions, we’ve developed a healthy aging quiz that might reveal some valuable insights into how well you are aging.
There are two measures of age: chronological and biological age. Your chronological age is simply a point of reference measured in years (how many years you’ve lived), while your biological age takes a much more holistic and qualitative approach to age. The idea of a biological age truly blows many of the normative perceptions of age out of the water. It forces us to look beneath the hood and consider your intricate combination of lifestyle, diet, genetics, epigenetics, underlying health issues, and more.
For example, your chronological age could be 50 with a biological age of 60, and this might not bode well for maximizing your remaining years of good health. While this may seem unnerving, the good news is that the field of aging and epigenetics is working hard to gain invaluable insight into the “how” behind these mysteries.
The number of years you’ve lived is how we define chronological age, and this metric plays a significant role in the aging process. However, it’s best to use chronological age as a reference point for biostatistical norms, instead of as the be-all-end-all of aging.
Chronological age creates a normative aging paradigm that assumes continuous ailments and degeneration are a natural part of the aging process, especially at certain ages. It doesn’t take into account the many ways in which you can impact the rate and manner in which you age, along with other important markers of aging.
Also referred to as your functional or physiological age, biological age considers chronological age, individual lifestyle, nutrition, social habits, underlying health issues, genetics, and epigenetics. It offers more methods of measuring age, such as DNA methylation and telomere length, as biomarkers.
Underlying health problems play a role in biological age, along with your genetic foundation, pre-existing genetics, and epigenetic effects. To recap: genetics is the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics, while epigenetics means “above” or “on top of” genetics, which is a helpful way to understand this extraordinary field. Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. In other words, epigenetics is concerned with external influences and changes to DNA that either turn genes “on” or “off.”
DNA methylation is another mechanism studied in the aging process. It helps your genes turn “on” and “off” in response to environmental, dietary, and lifestyle signals that allow methylation to function properly. If our DNA is worn down by these factors, it can decrease genetic fortitude and make you less resistant to aging.
Telomeres as a biomarker of aging is a somewhat new and interesting indicator that seems to have a seat at the table in the conversation of how we age. Telomeres are the end cap of the body’s chromosomes, and wear and tear from lifestyle factors can cause increased replication and shortening of telomere length. While more research is needed, a connection seems likely between telomere length and healthy aging.
The following quiz looks at the controllable factors of your biological age versus your chronological age.
Use this self-guided, non-clinical assessment to get a snapshot of how you’re aging. In section 2, questions need to be approached by comparing yourself now to your “peak self,” instead of to other people. For example, some people are inherently more prone to anxious thoughts than others. So when you consider your level of stress and anxiousness now, compare it to when you were at a time of relative calm in your own life.
Tally your total number of ‘yes’ answers.
Give a 1 to 10 rating compared to how you’ve felt in the past:
1 or 2 = never or very rarely
3 or 4 = not often or a little
5 or 6 = sometimes
7 or 8 = often or quite frequently
9 or 10 = usually or always
Tally up the sum of your points for all answers (minimum of 10 and maximum of 100)
If you answered ‘yes’ to six or fewer questions in section one, you likely aren’t making choices that are accelerating aging! If you answered four or fewer, you are likely making choices that are supporting the healthiest aging process possible, and deserve a big congratulations! If you answered ‘yes’ to more than six, don’t miss the next section on actionable steps for healthy aging.
If you scored a 60 in section two, your aging process is likely within normal parameters. If you scored well over 60, you might consider checking in with your integrative doctor to determine the best action steps to support the healthiest aging process possible.
This non-clinical assessment is not a test, nor is it meant to be used as any type of clinical examination of healthy aging. It is simply a way to gain perspective on your lifestyle and other factors that impact aging, and increase self-awareness.
The good news is that you have a lot of control over your aging process—it’s nothing to fear. The following action items can make a big difference:
Aging has taken on a negative connotation—but in reality, we should embrace this natural process and learn to support it with a holistic approach. Chronological age offers one important indicator of age, but biological age offers an even more comprehensive perspective. Use this quiz and healthy aging tips to empower yourself as you continue through the aging process.
By Ramneek S. Bhogal, DC, DABCI
 Jylhävä, J., Pedersen, N. L., & Hägg, S. (2017). Biological Age Predictors. EBioMedicine, 21, 29–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.03.046
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