Meet the next big thing in performance healthcare: Biological age testing.
Thanks to epigenetics (the study of heritable changes caused by how genes are turned on and off), we know that the future of our health isn’t necessarily permanently locked in our genetic code. Our environment and lifestyle—including what we eat, how we manage stress, and whether or not we exercise—can affect our DNA and its impact on our overall health.
But how do we measure the effect that our lifestyle has on our genes? Enter biological age testing.
What is Biological Aging?
Our chronological age marks the number of years that have passed since birth, but emerging research suggests that our biological age might not be so straightforward.
Here’s an example: A guy who works a high-stress job, eats a diet rich in saturated fats and low in plants, never exercises, and smokes a pack of cigarettes every day could have a chronological age of 30—but a biological age of 65.
Biological age takes multiple factors into account including chronological age, genetics, lifestyle, and (specifically) DNA health.
How Does Biological Age Testing Work?
The first wave in biological testing appeared around five to ten years ago, with telomere testing. Telomere testing measures the length and amount of telomeric DNA in a blood sample. It then compares that with other samples from individuals of similar chronological age to help identify disease susceptibility and cellular aging.
But over the last few years, recent studies have found another, potentially more efficient, way to measure biological age: methylation testing. Pioneered by Dr. Steven Horvath, this method measures methylation in DNA, which can affect the activation, or deactivation, of certain genes.
Though the first iteration of these tests required blood samples, new technology now enables analysts to use sperm samples for DNA methylation tests—which can be especially helpful in measuring the effects of lifestyle habits from the past few months.
The Benefits of Knowing Your Biological Age
To put it plainly, knowing your biological age is crucial to determining whether your cells are aging faster than the clock. Specifically, measuring DNA methylation can track the cumulative effect of genetics and lifestyle on cellular aging. If test results show that your biological age is progressing faster than your chronological age, then you know that there are steps that you can take to help reverse and improve your cellular health. Plus, with sperm-based tests, you’ll also have a direct measure of your sperm health.
Reversing Biological Age With Healthy Lifestyle Habits
We might not be able to turn back the clock on our chronological age, but engaging in healthy lifestyle habits can improve our biological age. Unsurprisingly, the best things you can do to reverse biological age are the same steps you’d take to improve general health and wellbeing: meditation, stress management, eating a plant-based diet, exercise, and quitting smoking. These lifestyle modifications can have a big impact on improving your longevity and reversing the effects of biological aging.
How To Get Started
As men’s health specialists, we believe in leveraging the best of cutting-edge research and medicine to optimize your health—including Path Fertility and their sperm age test. Their test offers the same benefits as blood-based DNA methylation tests, but with the added bonus of learning how healthy your sperm are.
Did you know we have a podcast? Tune in to hear Vault’s Dr. Myles Spar, Dr. Alex Pastuszak, and CEO Jason Feldman take on some of the more practical, awkward, hilarious, relatable, mind-boggling, and fun questions around men’s health.