Many of us greet our birthdays with anticipation and perhaps even a hint of dread, focusing more on the ‘number’ of years. It is wonderful to celebrate our chronological age and all its milestones. Chronological age also provides a useful framework for many practical purposes, such as social norms, developmental milestones, administrative purposes, medical and healthcare markers and so on. However, it is essential to recognize that our chronological age alone does not fully capture an individual's unique characteristics, experiences, or overall well-being. There are two more key parameters, namely Biological age and Psychological age.
The three parameters of age:
This is calculated as per the date you were born. Because this parameter is most regularly used and is unchangeable, we’ve allowed this benchmark alone to define us, for way too long.
Your biological age refers to how healthy your body is. While chronological age is a factor, remember that it doesn’t solely determine the extent or pace of your body’s changes. Lifestyle, genetics, and environmental influences all play significant roles in the rate of biological aging, and we have a certain control over this.
This is about how old we feel, act, or behave. We can feel 50 before we even touch the 45-year mark; or 45 at the age of 60. While some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, its extent and timing can vary among different people. Factors such as education, intellectual stimulation, mental health, and lifestyle choices influence the trajectory of psychological aging.
“Aging is an inevitable part of the human experience, and embracing it as a gift can lead to a more fulfilling life,” says Dr. Marian Alonzo, Medical Chief at The Farm at San Benito.
The way we manage our lifestyle, environmental factors, and even mindset in our youth, determines how we will eventually merge into our senior years. That is why, making smart lifestyle choices is so important, at any age.
“Factors such as pollution, smoking, and poor dietary choices can increase the presence of free radicals. Free radicals, which are unstable compounds, contribute to the oxidation and damage of cell membranes thereby fast-tracking the aging process”, Dr Marian continues.
“Certain lifestyle choices have been linked to the length of ‘telomeres’ in our body; which are basically protective caps at the ends of our chromosomes and these are linked with aging. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress, exposure to pollution, etc. can potentially increase the rate of telomere shortening, the rise of disease, and the pace of aging”, Dr. Marian adds.
Here are some time-tested changes we can make to our lifestyles, to help slow down the shortening of our telomeres and thereby increase our longevity and radiance through the years:
1. Maintain a healthy, consistent weight
2. Encourage a healthy diet: Consuming foods such as red and processed meats, sweetened drinks, white bread, saturated fats, and excessive alcohol is associated with shorter telomeres; while a diet rich in plant-based whole foods, packed with nutrients, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and omega-3 fatty acids, supports the development of longer telomeres.
3. Exercise regularly
4. Stay hydrated
5. Reduce/ manage stress
6. Keep your mind active and linked with a purpose you feel passionate about
7. Get enough sleep
8. Quit smoking/ vaping/ ICOS
9. Check cholesterol and sugar levels regularly
10. Take supplements
“At The Farm, we take a comprehensive approach to longevity: encompassing cellular detoxification, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, hormonal balance, management of stress and psychoemotional issues, social connections, and other lifestyle factors. The Farm looks into genetics and epigenetics (or factors that can modify the genes).
By providing health programs that address all these aspects, The Farm aims to empower individuals to lead healthy, vibrant lives, and embrace the beauty of aging.” Says Dr Marian.
With this as the background context, aging can indeed be embraced as a natural and enriching part of the human experience when we prioritize our health and well-being.
In conclusion, aging encompasses so much more than we have credited it for. We can’t alter our chronological age, but we can strive to keep our biological and psychological age in its best possible form, with a healthy lifestyle and mindset – stay fit, exercise, have fun, connect with friends and family, laugh, play, give up grudges, manage anger, guilt, and regret and be happy. Remember – aging happens on the body level, our soul never ages. So don’t spend your life counting the years. Instead, make each year count.