How I reduced my age by 6 years in 12 months
The primary way people define their age is what we call chronological age - the amount of time that has passed since you were born.
The idea behind biological age is that changes occur in all of the body's cells, tissues, and organs as we gradually accumulate damage over time. Biological age is sometimes referred to as physiological or functional age. Chronological age, genetics, lifestyle, and nutrition impact our biological age. While you can’t change your chronological age or genetics, you can change your lifestyle and nutrition.
What is PhenoAge?
The term PhenoAge is derived from the term “phenotype”. Phenotype is defined as “a set of observable characteristics of an individual that result from the interaction of their genotype with the environment”. You can think of your genotype as your actual DNA and your phenotype is how your genes are expressed. Your phenotype changes in response to lifestyle and environmental influences.
PhenoAge is a relatively simple formula based on some common bio-markers from blood tests and is now considered one of the most accurate measurements of your biological age.
Dr. Steven Horvath and Morgan Levine, Ph.D. (among others) developed the PhenoAge formula working out of the University of California, Los Angeles. They wanted to find a simple, inexpensive way to determine biological age and mortality risk. They developed the PhenoAge calculator and found that “while this biomarker was developed using data from whole blood, it correlates strongly with age in every tissue and cell tested” and “this single epigenetic biomarker of aging is able to capture risks for an array of diverse outcomes across multiple tissues and cells, and provide insight into important pathways in aging”. You can read more about it here.
My journey over the past year
The first time I calculated my PhenoAge was 1 year ago. It had been several months of significant stress and I had not been focusing on my nutrition, sleep, and exercise in a way I felt good about. It wasn’t horrendous, but it wasn’t good either. I was 43 at the time, and my PhenoAge was 39. Not too terrible, I thought, but I also knew that by refocusing on my health and fitness, I could improve my result.
Over the past year, I’ve focused on the core pillars of health and fitness: nutrition, exercise, and sleep. I eat a generally healthy and balanced diet (I still have some “junk” food and drink alcohol occasionally), I do strength training 2-3 times a week, go for walks a few times a week, and get 7-8 hours of sleep … nothing too crazy and it’s been relatively easy to keep to. My general rule is that I set achievable incremental goals and that I’d rather keep to something 80% for a long period of time than try to keep to it 100% and then end up falling off completely.
I’m 44 now, and I just completed my latest blood test, and my PhenoAge has decreased to 33. That’s a 6-year improvement in 12 months, just by doing the basics. I’m sure I could improve it further by incorporating more biohacking techniques, but it shows what’s possible.
My most significant improvements came from improved immune function, indicated by white blood cell volume and percentage of Lympocytes, and decreased systemic inflammation, indicated by C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP).
How do you start?
To calculate your PhenoAge, you’ll need the results from a CBC (complete blood count) and CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel) panel as well as hsCRP. There are free calculators available online where you just plug in values from your results.
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