Recent scientific research on aging has shown that there is now an accurate way to measure the difference between your chronological age and your biological age. Let’s say you are fifty years old—this is your chronological age. Your biological age could actually be older or younger than fifty depending on whether your body is aging slower or faster than your chronological age. Biological age—also referred to as physiological age—takes many lifestyle factors into consideration including diet, exercise, and sleeping habits.
“If you don’t know where you are, you can’t figure how to get where you want to go.”
A simple blood test called the Pheno-Age test analyzes bio-markers and is now considered to be the most accurate measurement of your biological age. The term Pheno-Age is derived from “phenotype”—a set of observable characteristics of an individual that result from the interaction of their genotype with the environment. So, your genotype is your actual DNA blueprint while your phenotype is the way in which your genes are expressed in response to lifestyle and environmental influences.
Before the science of epigenetics, it was thought that your health was determined by your genes, and this meant that you were at the mercy of your genetic makeup. We now know that this just isn’t true! Your gene expression is much more important to your health than your genes themselves, and your lifestyle, environment, and mental and emotional states directly affect your genetic expression.
Dr. Steve Horvath, an aging researcher at UCLA, developed the Horvath aging clock. This is a highly accurate molecular biomarker of aging that is used for developing weighted correlation network analysis. The recipient of several research awards, he has studied genomic biomarkers of aging, the aging process, and many age-related diseases/conditions. (In fact, the term Pheno-Age came directly from his research!) Because Pheno-Age pertains to whether you’re aging faster or slower than your chronological age, it has also been shown to predict your percentage chance of dying in the next ten years.
In his research, Dr. Horvath found that there are nine blood markers that determine your Pheno-Age and the good news is that these nine blood markers can give your doctor very specific information about which systems in the body need attention in order to improve your Pheno-Age. This tailored healthcare can thereby slow your rate of aging and extend your “healthspan”. (Healthspan refers to the length of time you live free from the many symptoms of aging such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other conditions commonly associated with aging.)
None of us wants to live a long time if we’re suffering with debilitating age-related conditions, and it’s important to understand that these conditions are not an inevitable consequence of aging; they are reversible to a large degree, and early diagnosis increases your chance of stopping and reversing the accelerated processes of aging and disease.
Dr. Horvath’s research found that accelerated aging was also strongly correlated with Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome results from disrupted fat and glucose metabolism, and is diagnosed by having three or more of the following five indicators:
- Visceral or belly fat as measured by waist circumference exceeding thirty-five inches for women and forty-five inches for men.
- Triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dl.
- Blood pressure above 130/85.
- Fasting glucose over 110 mg/dl.
- HDL cholesterol below 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women.
Having Metabolic Syndrome significantly increases your risk of developing several diseases including:
- Type II diabetes (4000 % increased risk)
- Heart disease (70% increased risk for heart attack and stroke)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease including cirrhosis and fatty liver
- Macular degeneration
- Neurological conditions including MS and Parkinson’s
- Reproductive cancers (breast, ovarian, and prostate)
- Autoimmune conditions (Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s, psoriasis and eczema, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and others)
A recent study by the University of North Carolina found that eighty-eight percent of Americans are metabolically unfit, and the most important thing you can do right now is find out if you are one of them! The odds are seven in eight that you are, so don’t gamble with your health by delaying this critical analysis—your life is literally at stake. The good news, however, is that with the right guidance, it’s possible to live a metabolically healthy life!
Fidalgo Island Health Center now offers a Pheno-Age analysis for just $149 using a lab blood draw as opposed to the finger prick test used by many other clinics promoting Pheno-Age testing online. (Blood draws are much more accurate than finger prick tests for determining Pheno-Age.) The analysis also includes a comprehensive report of your bodily systems that need attention and support. Metabolic Syndrome and its increased risk of disease is by far the leading cause of death worldwide. Therefore, in addition to HDL cholesterol, fasting glucose, and triglycerides, other tests are included to evaluate your metabolic health including hemoglobin A1c, fasting insulin, and C-reactive protein. Together with your Pheno-Age calculation, these blood tests will give you very accurate and specific indicators of your risk of disease and death and will indicate how best to guide you towards an improved “healthspan”.
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