Is living until you're a healthy 150 years old on the verge of becoming the new norm? Will 200 be the new 70? We live at a time when the concept of living a very long time and even immortality is not just some science fiction concept but actually in the scientific literature. In our lifetime, some scientists expect breakthrough developments in reversing the aging process indefinitely!
Nonprofit organizations like the SENS Research Foundation are leading the field of regenerative medicine. And instead of these advancements in science being kept for the rich and powerful, the SENS Foundation's mission is to provide it to everyone.
When it comes to genetics and how long we live, many still believe they're predestined to have whatever disease their parents or grandparents had. The science of today takes into account the field of epigenetics, the environmental factors that turn off and turn on your genetic expression. The foods you eat, the foods you don't eat, the supplements you take, toxins you may be exposed to, your stress levels, exercise and sleep, all of these epigenetic factors are constantly and dynamically instructing your genes what to do .
Research like the Danish Twin Study have shown that over 90% of how long we live is determined by the choices we make, not our genetics. Sure, people can have a genetic predisposition for a disease, or a specific gene for a disease, but that gene may not be expressed if it is not triggered by these epigenetic, lifestyle, controllable factors. This is a revolutionary message of health empowerment and responsibility. The Okinawa study showed there is no reason why the majority of us can't live at least 100 disease-free, healthy years.
In reality, there is a lot we can do to actually reverse accelerated aging today. Knowing your bio markers for accelerated aging and disease is the first step of your journey of healthy vitality.
These are some of the labs that I run on patients all around the world to give them insight into their health:
1. Telomere length
Telomeres are the ends of your chromosomes that are responsible for healthy cell function. As time passes, telomeres become shorter, which leads to aging and chronic disease. A lot of regenerative medicine research is focused on the regeneration of telomere length. By clinically looking at your telomere lengths you can gain insight into how rapidly or slowly your body is aging.
2. C-reactive protein
This inflammatory protein is essential for cleaning up bad bacteria but in excess can lead to accelerated aging, chronic disease and damaging of telomeres.
Optimal Range: < 0.5 mg/L
3. Small dense LDL particles
LDL is typically called "bad cholesterol" but this is a simplistic and inaccurate view of cholesterol. LDL particles, protein carriers which carry cholesterol around in your body can be both large buoyant or small dense. Small dense LDL particles can cause damage, and it's these particles — not the cholesterol itself — that indicate a risk for heart attack and stroke.
Optimal Range: < 200 nmol/L
This protein in excess (and with a B vitamin deficiency) has been linked to cognitive decline.
Optimal Range < 7 Umol/L
5. Hgb A1C
This 2-3 month average A1C level in blood sugar has been linked with higher rates of all-cause mortality in patients with diabetes.
Optimal Range: < 5.3%
6. Vitamin D
This nutrient is responsible for hundreds of different genetic pathways in the body. Vitamin D deficiencies are linked to chronic disease, and optimal levels are linked to an actual preservation of our telomeres, the part of your chromosomes that maintain our youth! Vitamin D should be paired with other fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and K2.
Optimal Range: 50-60 ng/mL
7. Fasting insulin
When your body breaks down carbohydrates, and to a lesser extent, proteins into glucose, your pancreas secretes insulin to bring down your blood sugar. High levels of insulin in the body has been linked to accelerated aging and telomere shortening.
Optimal Range: < 3 ulU/mL
In my next article I'll give you the best tips to make all of these labs in the optimal ranges and add years to your life!
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian,The Inflammation Spectrum, and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.