Dr Dilraj Kalsi ('Dr Dil') is a Lifestyle Doctor who runs Hippocrates Lounge, a bespoke lifestyle clinic targeting long-term illness through how you eat, move, think and sleep. Partnering with Chronomics enables Dr Dil to measure the impact of lifestyle changes on patients’ health and disease risk. In this post, Dr Dil looks at biological age, why it is relevant to your health and most importantly what you can do to improve it and fend off diseases like cancer, dementia and heart disease.
What is biological age?
Not how many birthdays you have had. As we get older, diseases such as cancer, dementia and heart disease become more likely. By measuring biological age, we can get insight into our risk of these diseases. This is difficult because there are so many mechanisms to unpick: metabolism, stress hormones and telomeres (the equivalent of a shoe lace tip to DNA strands) to name a few.
Studies of epigenetic indicators show that DNA methylation (remember, more DNAm = less gene expression) reduces with age. So over time we lose control of our gene expression leading to increased inflammation, reduced cell and DNA repair and impaired mitochrondrial (the cell’s engine room) function as drivers of biological ageing.
Why biological age is important
Accelerated biological ageing is linked to reduced lifespan as well as many diseases:
- Lung and breast cancer;
- Heart and vascular disease;
- And dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Biological ageing can be accelerated by obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, alcohol intake and over-training. So biological age reflects our risk of disease and is influenced by the risk factors for disease. It is a perfect marker for overall health, but…
How do you measure biological age?
This is where it gets tricky. Just look at how many mechanisms are involved in ageing:
and that is not even all of them. Every ‘-omics’ you can think of has been explored to measure biological age: genomics; transciptomics; proteomics; metabolomics; the works. But it is the epigenetic ageing clock published by Professor Steve Horvath’s team in 2013 that is the most accurate predictor of age to date. Even more useful is that this biological age DNA testing can be done on any type of body tissue and can predict death of any cause. Thankfully for us, Chronomics have developed this technology to make it accessible to everyone.
What can you do to improve your biological age?
Huge companies included the Google-funded Calico are devoted to finding a curative drug to reverse ageing; but with such a complex system, you can really only change one thing – the input. Epigenetic biological age testing shows that our lifestyle and environment have a significant effect on ageing. This means that you can make changes in your day-to-day life that will slow down your biological ageing and reduce your risk of disease:
- EAT – a high plant diet with lean meats and moderate alcohol consumption
- MOVE – take regular physical activity; integrate it throughout your day, even If it is just taking the stairs more often
- THINK – minimise the effects of traumatic stress by finding a daily stress-coping tool
- SLEEP – aim for a quality 8 hours; measure it and try simple things like reducing caffeine and screen time if need be
The no-needle Chronomics test not only tells you your biological age but their platform also gives you personalised recommendations on how to slow down your ageing. What’s more, if you need a helping hand you can always call on a health practitioner like me.