All that worry waiting for my biological age test results must have put years on me.
It turns out that my nerves were misplaced.
My current healthy aging habits had a grizzly history to overcome. A hedonistic youth, decades of undiagnosed celiac disease, past smoking habit, constant battles against sugar cravings and a stressed / boozy 30’s.
Here is the result: I’m biologically 44.4 based on my epigenetic clock, compared to 52.3 chronologically.
8 years younger!
This is wonderful news, especially as I’ve only been taking my healthy aging habits seriously for a little over two years.
Of course, there are caveats. This is just one snapshot measurement, and the external validity of what exactly is being measured by DNA methylation clocks is fiercely debated. Specific scores covering chronic disease risks, exercise, sensitivity to drugs / supplements and organ aging came with the overall biological age measurement. The highlights are covered below.
First, here is a summary of the simple and enjoyable habits that got me here.
What Got me Here? Simple, Enjoyable Healthy Aging Habits
There was no eureka moment when my bad habits became healthy ones.
In fact, there is still significant work to do.
The last two years has been a gradual accumulation of positive healthy aging habits. Big ones, small ones and tiny adjustments all stacking into my daily routine.
- Sleep: I now prioritise quality sleep, with a set routine starting with morning sunlight exposure and ending with reading / blue light blockers.
- Exercise: Cardio, HIIT and resistance. Consistent effort rather than extremes. Add walking, exercise ‘snacks,’ and that old cliché, taking the stairs.
- Nutrition: An eating window of 12pm to 6pm, piles of varied leafy greens for lunch and protein for dinner. More recently, eating simple carbs only as an occasional treat. I still have sugar craving issues and enjoy red wine a little too often.
- Toxins: Awareness that alcohol is harmful, avoiding processed foods, using sunscreen, and reducing artificial sweeteners.
Having significant room for improvement with all these habits is exciting.
I’ve not yet touched on meditation or breathwork (though do have gratitude and journaling habits locked-in). Supplements are an option, though multiple deep dives into the clinical papers leave me sceptical of their benefits. Longer fasts are on my radar too. Cold exposure is my newest habit, with those cold showers after running taking a little getting used to…
Epigenetic Testing: Biological Age Test Results and DNA Specifics
As a celiac, the DNA flag for ‘higher risk of gluten intolerance’ feels like a massive understatement.
That aside, there are multiple fascinating snippets in my DNA profile. They cover food, supplements, exercise, and rate of aging of specific organs.
These genetic insights provide a fresh list of topics to dive into for future blog posts and deep dives. Some results were surprising:
- Muscle Power / Stamina: I’m genetically in the ‘gifted’ range for muscle power. As someone who has been skinny all my life, this was a shocker. I do have a little definition these days, and this result has encouraged me to increase the weight for my resistance exercises from here on in.
- Poor Fat Distribution: This one goes with potential harm from yo-yo dieting. It emphasises the importance of fasting, whole foods, and calorie restriction.
- Selenium Deficiency Risk: This goes with increased risk of virus infections. It is top of my hit list for investigating. Fish and Brazil nuts are rich sources. Separately, the recommendation of avoiding fluoride due to increased sensitivity was new.
- Benefits from Choline: Another area which was not on my radar. Choline affects methylation processes, cell signalling and neurotransmitters. My DNA shows outside benefits from boosting this – with broccoli high in it, add more won’t be a problem.
- Stress Response: Two areas of interest here. The first is stress and physical response risk. For years I’d get acute stomach pain when stressed – along with insomnia. Now I know it is genetic. Memory issues when stressed is another new area to explore – if I remember.
- Caffeine Effects: The opposite of my expectation with this result. I’m genetically caffeine sensitive. As a big coffee fan, I figured the opposite. My switch to tea at noon habit looks to be a good choice.
There are others, including a ‘warrior not worrier’ rating… While I can see both sides, I’m really quite neurotic. That said, I do come through under pressure.
Increased risk of cardiovascular health issues, gum disease and faster sight degeneration with age are also noteworthy.
Wrapping Up: A New Challenge – A Biological Age Test Result of 42 by 55
After two years of building my healthy aging habits, I’m only just getting started.
This DNA profile provided multiple fresh avenues to explore. They will boost the quick-wins already available from improving sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
I’m closely watching developments in longevity drugs and supplements. Though with so much low-hanging fruit elsewhere, it will take some super-solid science to get me to take them.
I’d be honoured if you’d join me on this journey – either by bookmarking the Age Well Times, following me on Twitter @markawt – or both.
In the meantime, do check out these popular posts:
- Thoughts before my DNA age test (alongside details of the test taken)
- Longevity and Healthy Aging on a Budget
- Biological Age Testing Overview