Should I Measure Aging?
Biological Aging is the process of your cells slowly losing their ability to function properly.
Genes tell cells what to do. Instructions from genes tell your body to clear out senescent cells, what proteins to form, and how to repair damage.
When cells stop doing their jobs properly, we call that ‘Aging’.
Accelerated aging is correlated to a significantly higher risk of age-related diseases, like alzheimers, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.
Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression that do not alter the primary DNA sequence.
In other words; ways that outside forces regularly change which of your genes are being used, and by how much. Your body actually changes which genes it’s using, and which ones are ‘on’ or ‘off’ throughout your adult life.
DNA methylation is a type of epigenetic marker, which can change gene expression.
It consists of a small molecule – a Methyl Group – attaching to specific sites on the DNA. Methylation to DNA changes how your body reads that DNA.
We can look at patterns of Methylation to learn a lot about a person’s health and aging.
Biological Age is a measurement of your body’s approximate cellular & molecular age, independent from chronological age.
It is a number that can change due to lifestyle and other health factors, along with inheritance and pressures during childhood and much more.
We look at Biological Age measured by methylation, because research has shown it is the #1 most accurate and most predictive measure of future disease occurrence, frailty, and can even estimate the time-to-death. That predictive power makes it highly useful both in research and in individual longevity/health tracking
Influences Methylation & Aging?
Methylation (and therefore Biological Age measured by methylation) has been observed to change in response to a wide variety of factors.
Even in the womb, our mother’s actions and habits influence our initial epigenetic patterns, and the choices we make throughout our life continue to change it.
Some of the major factors include:
And much more…
How is this different from a DNA test?
DNA tests check what genes you have, but doesn’t tell you if those genes are being used or not. Epigenetic tests look at markers that change how your genes are turned on or off – essentially checking what genes your body is putting to use.
Epigenetic testing can also show how your gene expression has changed over time, and can estimate current predispositions toward developing certain diseases, based on gene expression.
An easier analogy:
It’s like looking at a string of lights – a DNA test can identify what genes you have – “20% of these bulbs are orange, 10% are green, 50% are blue…” but it won’t tell you whether any of those lights are ON, or if they’re burnt out.
An Epigenetic test looks on which lights are on or off – which ones are actually in use.
How soon can I expect to see changes?
We recommend folks wait 4-6 months between tests, to allow time for methylation changes to occur. This is the timeframe most useful to the average person.
In the instance of massive lifestyle shifts, we have seen significant changes occur to Biological Age readouts as rapidly as 8 weeks.
How often you decide to test is ultimately up to you.