In Your 20s? Here's How Science Can Already Predict Your Lifespan

I'm fascinated with aging. The science is exploding and researchers are racing to measure and modify the rate at which our cells slow in function. There is every reason to believe that 100 will be the new 60 in the next decade or so.

But what if you’re now in your 20s? Is it possible to know if your “biological” age is the same as the one on your driver’s license? Can you actually measure how fast you're aging?

Ignoring your health in your youth can bite you in the rear before you hit 40.

Compelling new research says that you can.

Let’s take a look at the science. One study, published in 2012, followed over 9,000 people for 18 years. The researchers looked at methods of measuring “biological” age with a variety of tests, including blood pressure, labs for kidney function, cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammation, immune function, breathing capacity and liver function.

At the follow up, 1,843 participants had died (the average age was 48 years old, so don’t panic). And after modeling these biomarkers, the researchers realized that the health measures early on actually did a better job at predicting death in the follow-up than the listed age of the participants.

Bottom line: our biological age might predict our life spans more than our birth certificates.

So why should this matter to Millennials? Because measures of health in your mid-20s can give a read into your biological age a dozen years later. In other words, you can’t blow off your 20s and try to catch up later without harming your long-term health.

That’s what researchers at Duke University found after studying 1,000 adults at age 26 and again at 38.

When the participants were 26, the researchers assessed lab work, fitness, and blood pressure. They measured 18 biomarkers that gauged lung, kidney, heart, dental, liver and immune function — and then modeled them to figure out the biological age.

When measured again at age 38, some of the participants had a biological age of less than 30 years, while others had a calculated age of over 45. There were study participants who at age 38 were less physically able, had brain aging, reported worse health, and looked older than the norm. And all this was predictable by the measurements taken at just 26 years old.

What This Means For Your Health — Right Now

So what are the implications of these studies for you? One is to know your numbers. What's your weight, waist-hip ratio, blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, and fitness level? This data can help give you a peek into the future.

Second, pay it forward. Ignoring your health in your youth can catch up and bite you in the rear — and your wrinkles and hairline — before you hit 40. So early in life, adopt healthy lifestyle rules, like not smoking, eating a plant-based diet, having a fitness routine, getting enough sleep and managing stress.

Finally, if your tests predict accelerated aging early in life, consider advanced rejuvenation therapies like intermittent fasting, optimal dietary and nutritional programs, and consultation with experts in healthy aging.

Oscar Wilde said that youth is wasted on the young. But with some planning, you can prove him wrong.

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