by David Kekich
How old are you?
Uh, uh. Not so fast.
I’m not interested in the number of candles on your birthday cake and neither should you be.
Nowadays, as people like to say, “It’s not the years in your life, but the LIFE in your years” that matter and often the calendar is a bad indicator of that.
In fact, there might be a giant difference between your chronological age and your biological age,either for the good or the bad!
Your chronological age measures the time you’ve been on this planet. Your biological age measures how you perform, look and feel. Your biological age gauges how long you might live. (Frankly, it may very well measure how long you WANT to live given factors like energy, cognitive condition and even sexual desire and function.) Recent studies have shown that the rate at which you age is only determined 25-35% by genetics. You control the rest. It’s called “epigenetics.”
Our 300 tissue types differ because their cells have certain sets of genes that are “turned on” or expressed, as well as other sets that are “turned off” or inhibited.
Epigenetics refers to the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Or, simply put, the way your genes operate depends on much more than your DNA sequence. Epigenetic changes can switch your genes on or off. You and your environment have more influence by what is termed “epigenetic factors.” Changes in these factors can play a critical role in disease, how you feel and in your future.
In other words, you control much of your destiny. You can actually reprogram much of your body to resist diseases such as cancer…and even aging. What you eat, drink, breathe and think and how much you exercise has more bearing on your health than your DNA.
Your environment’s effects on your genes are so powerful that the ways they influence you can permanently alter the way your genes are expressed, and some of these effects can be passed on to your offspring.
Let’s say your nutritional habits affected your predicted death rate associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. For example, if you practiced some form of caloric restriction just before puberty, your children would have less chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.
The flip side is that positive lifestyle habits also translate to modified gene expression. So you can pass on those epigenetic changes too. What are these changes, and how are they remembered? The answers to questions such as these lie in the concept of epigenetics that are beyond the scope of this article.
Previously, we’ve assumed that since we inherit our DNA sequence at birth, our genetic code was merely the luck of the draw and there’s not much we can do to alter it.
But we now know that we are empowered at birth regardless of the hand we were dealt. In fact, as much as 65-75% of your gene expression is controlled by your environment, including the food you eat, the amount and type of exercise you get…and even your thoughts.
So you can REVERSE most of your unwanted gene expressions that contribute to disease. Or, conversely, with poor health habits, you can unwind much of the advantages that you were born with.
Recent discoveries allow us to objectively measure biological age. This measure may not yet be precise. But it does give you a good indication of how effective your anti-aging program works for you. Or, those same measures may illustrate how your habits are accelerating your aging process.
I enjoyed lunch with a young-looking 61-year-old friend. We compared notes on how we maintain our health. We found that our protocols and longevity goals were similar. He measured his biological age and found out he was about 45 years old! I did the same and got similar results. I turned 71 this year. Yet my blood pressure is better than it when I was a fit 35-year-old. My cholesterol levels are almost as good. And my body fat is about the same.
I attribute this to my improved diet, supplements and regular exercise. My skin elasticity, respiratory function and reaction time compare to someone around 50. And my immune profile, neurological scores and blood tests are equal to those of a 50-year-old man’s. Finally, an online test measured me at about 55.
I don’t say this to brag – but to show you how you can turn back your aging clock by applying your basic epigenetic knowledge. You can find the information in my book, Smart, Strong and Sexy at 100?
If my friend and I can do it, you can do it. We have essentially turned back our biological clocks by an astounding 15-20 years. That could mean we have bought ourselves the opportunity to take advantage of over 15 more years of medical advances, thanks to epigenetics.
I have another friend who pursued the same healthy lifestyle changes that I have–with even better results. His chronological age is 65. And he was dealt a bad set of genes which prematurely aged him. He was at risk of an early death. But he followed a well-balanced program. It included supplements, diet, exercise, stress reduction, a sensible lifestyle and regular visits to his anti-aging physician.
He dropped his current biological age to about 45. When he started, his biological age was probably at least 5 years higher than his chronological age. Now it’s 20 years lower. So he netted around 25 years—five years more than my other friend and I. These results are no coincidence.
One of my secrets is carefully chosen nutritional supplements. A favorite of mine of the new breed that affect gene expression is InflaGene – available HERE. And given the impact of inflammation on aging, disease and death, it may be the most important for you. It’s the only supplement derived solely from a network of genes that contribute to inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the direct link to nearly every major disease and to accelerated aging.
Most anti-aging physicians can quickly test you for your biological age. Ask for an H-scan. But courtesy of Dr. Stephen Cherniske, here are some free tests you can do at home:
Lay your hand down on a desk or table, palm down. Pinch the skin at the back of your hand for five seconds. Let go and time how long it takes your skin to go back to its smooth appearance. If you’re very young, it should snap back immediately. An average 45-year-olds’ skin will take 3–5 seconds. At age 60, it takes about 10–15 seconds on average. By the time you are 70, it usually takes 35–60 seconds to crawl back. So if you are 60 and it takes 3–5 seconds, this test indicates your biological age is around 45.
If you want to increase your skin elasticity, follow the diet and antioxidant recommendations in this book.
Ask someone to hold an eighteen-inch ruler or yardstick vertically from the one-inch line. Place your thumb and forefinger about three inches apart at the eighteen inch line. Then ask your partner to let go without warning you. Then catch the ruler as fast as you can between your thumb and forefinger. Mark down the number on the ruler where you catch it. Do this three times, and average your score. A 20-year-old will average about twelve inches. That generally decreases progressively to about five inches by the time you are 65 or about 1 3⁄4 inches per decade. So if your score is seven and one-half inches, you test out at about age 50 for reaction time.
Games like ping-pong, tennis and foosball can increase your scores.
Take off your shoes, and stand on a level uncarpeted surface with your feet together. Close your eyes and raise your right foot about six inches off the ground if you are right-handed, or on your left foot if you are left-handed. See how many seconds you can stand that way without opening your eyes or moving your supporting foot. Most 20-year-olds can do it easily for 30 seconds or more. By age 65, most people can only stand for 3–5 seconds. You lose about six seconds a decade, so if you score 12–14 seconds, you test at about 50 years of age.
Yoga, balance board training and exercise can improve your scores.
Vital lung capacity
Take three deep breaths, and hold the fourth without forcing it. Healthy 20-year-olds can hold it for two minutes easily. We lose about 15%, or 18 seconds per decade, so a 60-year-old will do well to hold it for 45 seconds. If you can hold your breath for 65 seconds, you test at about the 50-year-old level.
You can improve with exercise and deep breathing techniques.
Ask a friend to write down three random seven-digit numbers without showing them to you. Ask him or her to say the first string of seven numbers twice. Now repeat the string backward. Do the same for the other two numbers, and average the results. A 30-year-old should score 100%. Most of the 50-year-olds will miss one digit out of seven. Most of the 60-year-olds will miss two, and 70-year-olds will miss three.
Once you see how you measure up on a biological age test, you can reverse your biological dramatically by following the 7 easy steps in Smart, Strong and Sexy at 100? Let’s say you’re 50, but your test results measure you at 52 biologically. Not good. You’ve essentially shortened your projected life span by two years. However, now that you understand the power of epigenetics, let’s say you start your protocol today and retest in a year. The calendar will say you are 51. But your tests might measure you at 45. That means while you lived one more year, you’re biologically seven years younger. So you bought yourself an extra eight years.
Soon, when someone asks your age, why not tell them your biological age instead of chronological? Tell them “I was born in ____, but I’m actually about __ years old.”
Then, just to let them know how smart how smart you are too, ask them if they can spell, ”epigenetics.”
If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:
- Immune Dysfunction and Expectations
- Stress Reduction to Prevent Disease – Part 1
- Top 6 Anti-Aging Supplements
David Kekich is President/CEO of Maximum Life Foundation that focuses on aging research, a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to curing aging-related diseases. MaxLife.org is helping to make the anti-aging dream a reality with cutting edge Bio-Engineering research and products.