- Recently, surprisingly reliable self-testing methods have emerged for people to determine their biological age.
- But what does biological age really mean and how is it measured?
- We answer the most important questions on this topic.
The epigenetic clock captures molecular-biological changes in the genes of the cells in our body and counts how old a person is. This new method is more accurate than any traditional method of measuring biological age. The first self-tests have been on the market for some time.
What is the biological age?
Our normal age comes from the time we are already alive. It is also called the calendar or chronological age. But people are different: we inherited different genes, had different childhoods, experienced more or less serious diseases, and lived differently. We eat differently, exercise more or less, not all sleep the same and experience different levels of stress. All of these things affect our bodies, our organs, our entire biology. Life leaves traces in our body.
This is why people with the same calendar age often feel different ages. In fact, we are aging at different rates. It also explains why some die much earlier than others – even though they have not had any accidents or contracted life-threatening illnesses. They age faster than others. Its biological age was higher than the calendar age. Conversely, for people who are still very fit for their age and feel young, the biological age is usually well below average.
How do you measure biological age?
In principle, any biological characteristic that changes systematically over a lifetime is appropriate for measuring biological age. Then just look at how, for example, the average 50-year-old man or the average 60-year-old woman performs on this characteristic, and then the appropriate biological age associated with this trait is presented.
For example, if the average 60-year-old can squat 30 times in two minutes, or the average 50-year-old can squeeze his hand to a certain maximum, then all the women who can squat exactly that, or all the men who can squat exactly that, are all men. biologically at the age of sixty and fifty years, respectively. No matter how old they are under a passport. The biological trait of a squat or handshake is very important.
Of course, you can also use completely different characteristics, such as certain metabolic reactions or the length of so-called telomeres. These are clusters of molecules that protect our genome from damage, such as protective caps, and shorten slightly with each division of our cells. They have long been considered a kind of life watch, but they are not always shortened uniformly and regularly, so their length-to-age ratio is quite inaccurate.
How to check the accuracy of the measurement?
There is a simple way to check if a method of measuring biological age is appropriate: This method is used by many people to record and measure how much they deviate from the calendar age. Ideally, the mean of all deviations should be zero because many people were included in the calculation at one time, and the biological age of the average person is by definition the same as their calendar age.
Also, the calendar and biological ages of most people should not be too different. Too many biologically very old or too young people have nothing to expect from a good measurement method. For example, the number of squats is a relatively poor measure because you can be quite old and sick, but you still train specifically to do a lot of squats.
Which method is particularly accurate?
Until a few years ago, telomere length was considered the best way to determine biological age. However, it only targets about plus or minus ten years. Since 2013 a much better biological age clock works: German-American Steve Horvath has discovered an algorithm that can detect certain so-called epigenetic markers in saliva or …