What’s Your Patient's Biological Age?
Biological Aging: The pace at which your body, cells, and tissue have physically aged over time.
On the cellular level, the body is also aging biologically. “Biological aging” occurs as cells and tissues accumulate damage over time.
The Three Key Biomarkers
There are three key biomarkers we can use to figure out our biological age. The biomarkers we'll look at are telomere length, DNA methylation, and blood markers.
Telomere Length: Every time cells in the body divide to replenish themselves, chromosomes shorten. The telomeres at the ends of our chromosomes, buffer chromosomes against the shortening process associated with cell division. They protect chromosomes from fraying and compromising DNA integrity. However, telomeres are not invincible. They suffer wear and tear over time, compromising health. The process of telomere shortening that occurs with age is a powerful marker of biological age.
Telomere shortening is associated with age-related declines in health, including compromised metabolic and brain function. Thankfully you can test your patients' telomeres length to get a sense of the biological age.
DNA Methylation: Methylation is the process by which the body adds or removes small chemical groups, called “methyl groups,” to and from DNA. Methylation impacts how genes are expressed, influencing processes throughout the body. Cellular and tissue aging leads to predictable changes in DNA methylation, making the measurement of DNA methylation a reliable tool for assessing biological age.
Blood Markers: Three blood markers to monitor are blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and fasting blood glucose.
- Blood pressure: A simple metric that can provide information about how the body is aging. Blood pressure outside the healthy range is associated with compromised cardiovascular health, a manifestation of accelerated biological aging
- Blood sugar levels: Sustained high levels of blood glucose accelerate biological aging by increasing free radicals, which damage DNA, lipids, and proteins. Damaged cellular components are a hallmark of aging
Fasting blood glucose: Measuring fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c will reveal information about glucose control so your patient can improve these important markers of aging. These are common labs that can easily be ordered
Strategies to Slow Biological Aging
So now that we know what to watch for, what can you do to slow these hallmarks of aging for your patients? Here are a few strategies to recommend to your patients to keep them on top of their health.
The Quicksilver Scientific Team