If you are curious about your biological age, then you have an option to find out what that is through a biological age testing kit. These kits are available over the counter, and are used to capture biological data to determine how “old” you are.
Many theories of human aging abound, and companies have developed age testing kits based on each of these theories. Some believe that aging is related to damage to DNA, others believe that there are genetic markers which indicate a person’s lifespan.
Here is a brief overview of the different types of biological age testing kits on the market. The concepts are based on insights from research into the causes of aging.
What is Methylation?
Methylation affects gene expression by modifying the way that DNA functions. It is a process which adds chemical (methyl) groups to DNA, which work to silence segments of DNA which are “methylated.” Thus, methylated genes can’t make new parts for your body’s cells to use in creating tissues and organs.
Aging studies have tracked and found a correlation between methylation and the progress of aging. Methylation is a process which happens more often as a person ages.
As such, lower levels of methylation are correlated with longevity.
What Is Epigenetic Testing?
Your epigenome is a “biological record” of exposure to toxins, stress, and more. Your epigenome is what is used to regulate the genes which are expressed throughout your life, Epigenetic testing is genomic testing which is designed to look for different parts of your genome that can’t produce proteins, or produce proteins which are different than they would normally create them.
Most often, regions which are silenced in your epigenome are methylated, which is where methyl groups are used to “silence” these portions of DNA with the chemical groups. Epigenetic testing is designed to detect the regions of DNA which have been silenced.
What is Telomere length testing?
Many aging theories also believe that aging is caused by a shortening of the telomeres. Telomeres are what keep your chromosomes wound up together in a neat package. There’s plenty of evidence to support the idea that telomere shortening is a cause of aging, but the evidence to this theory is somewhat inconclusive.
As cells are copied, these “end caps” get slightly shorter with each iteration. This has the effect of limiting the number of times a cell is able to divide and form new cells. General lifestyle and environmental damage (toxic chemicals, stress, and more) also cause telomeres to shorten.
There is plenty of evidence which suggests that a shorter chromosome length is associated with many of the common age-related diseases.
What Is Biomarker Analysis?
Biomarker testing exists for a wide range of different illnesses including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The discovery of biomarkers is entirely based on common features between many genomes. Thus, a biomarker test would examine DNA samples and determine whether or not someone was able to age successfully. They act as measures for what is going on inside your body. The challenge with biomarker testing is that it’s difficult to discover the biomarkers which are associated with age and longevity simply because it would rely on a study that would take a very long time.
Sometimes, biomarker testing also refers to data that is not genetic. In these cases, biomarkers would refer to data such as how quickly you are able to remember things or react to stimuli. The idea behind these assessments is that it would serve as a measure of cognitive decline or physical decline. Therefore, the theory goes that you would show more decline in your mental abilities or physical abilities as you age.
The drawback to this approach is that, while it provides a good insight into how your body functions, it’s not the most precise method. The results you produce in biomarker testing could also vary based on how alert you are feeling at the time of testing.
What is Glycan Age Testing?
Glycans are a separate biomarker which many often refer to when assessing age, as it is based on immune system activity. The theory goes that your immune system operates less efficiently as you age, leading to more inflammation.
These tests would measure levels of proteins called glycans, as their levels would increase with age. With more glycans, the theory goes that your body is experiencing more inflammation and thus aging more rapidly.
No Age Testing Method is Precise
As you can likely interpret, there is no such thing as a precise age testing method to determine how well, or not so well, your body is aging. You could use a combination of tests and compare the results with one another, which could theoretically give you a more accurate picture of your body’s biological age.
Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only, and it does not constitute medical advice from a medical professional.