The ability to track, measure, and optimize your biological age is a field rife with confusion and a dizzying variety of testing methods such as telomere analysis and methylation clocks, transcriptomic-based, proteomic-based, and metabolomic-based predictors, and composite biomarkers.
But a new biological age test developed by a company called TruDiagnostic claims that it will change how we measure health and ultimately, how we can improve it using epigenetic testing.
In this episode, my guests from Tru Diagnostic, Ryan Smith and Dr. Daniel L. Stickler, talk about why this new development in epigenetics testing promises to be so revolutionary.
Ryan Smith is part of the team that developed the biological age test and worked to bring it to market. Dr. Stickler, co-founder and chief medical officer at Apeiron ZOH, Inc., is a physician to high-performing executives and entrepreneurs who want to upgrade their current state and is also an author, speaker, blogger, and podcaster.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-The difference between biological and chronological age…10:15
- Chronological age is simply the time since you've been born (70 years old)
- Biological age is similar to a “clock” of the cells; can be accelerated or reversed due to one's lifestyle
- Problematic to use either metric because they are measured against norms such as the general population
- A “health score” is preferable
- BGF podcast with Dr. Bill Andrews on telomere analysis
- Life Length telomere testing
- Unclear whether telomere aging is a cause or a metric of aging in general
-The connection between stem cells and telomere testing…14:05
- Intrinsic vs. extrinsic epigenetic age
- Began in 2013 with two different epigenetic “clocks”:
- Dr. Steve Horvath
- Dr. Greg Hannum
- Telomere length of stem cells is a key metric in the methylation process
- Currently no way to measure the length of only stem cell telomeres
-The difference between testing epigenetic markers vs. telomere lengths…16:20
- The holy grail of current anti-aging research is finding the relevant markers: brain, telomeres, epigenetics, etc.
- Epigenetic age, glycan age, brain age by quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG), blood markers, telomeres…
- Brian Kennedy is leading the charge
- Biological age provides a single objective measure to predict a large number of age-related diseases: dementia, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, etc.
- TruAge Epigenetic Test Kit provided by TruDiagnostic (use code BEN50 to save $50)
- Big difference is how they're tied to outcome measurements, how predictive they are of actual age
- Telomere testing doesn't have statistical significance to markers of biological age or life expectancy, can change so fluidly, can jump up or down and no one really knows why
- DNA methylation testing is more accurate, more functional, more about risks to other types of diseases, overall readout of where you are at in your health
- Epigenetic testing does not track changes in the nucleotide sequence, genes are always there, some are turned on, turned off, turned up, turned down
- It's the aspect of changing the way in which genes are expressed
-Different types and uses of epigenetic testing…21:25
- Methylation testing is the one closest to biological age
- CpG sites (cytosine, guanine nucleotide) are methylated at a predictable rate
- Accelerated methylation of DNA is indicative of a high rate of aging
- Horvath testing is accurate; typical margin of error is ~2.6 years, which is very good
- Crime investigators, health insurance companies use this data for their investigations
- TruAge test is a reading of cellular and biological age, does not predict death
- Epigenetics are “heritable” changes in gene expression (heavily influenced by lifestyle factors, not genetic history)
- The most important time in a person's life is the lifestyle of their parents 3 months before conception thru the first 2 years of life
- Some methylation patterns are written in “pen”(really hard to change fixed patterns), and some are in “pencil,” which can change
- Cellular aging process can really be reversed
- Around 60% is modifiable
- “Epi” comes from Greek language and means “above”
-How the millions of CpG sites in the body are tested…28:25
- TruAge test utilizes a microarray-based platform, isolating DNA, doing bisulfate conversion which allows testing methylation sites
- Testing many copies of the same DNA, with over 900,000 CpG sites
- The test determines what site on the DNA is methylated; different from the algorithm used to look at it
- Cellular senescence; looking at DNA is all about creating new algorithms to read DNA; correlating methylation sites to senescent markers, coming up with new tests for senescence
- Looking at methylation markers and correlating it to telomere length
- Look at constituent DNA and figure out how much is the senescent cell burden
- Intrinsic vs. extrinsic epigenetic age;
- Dr. Horvath's algorithm is really good at predicting cellular age at all different time spans, different tissues
- Dr. Hannum's is a little bit less predictive
- As we age, amount of senescent T cells in the body goes up, amount of naive T cells go down
-The key factors that indicate an acceleration of aging…38:20
- What accelerates aging:
- Lifestyle factors: smoking, poor diet, not exercising, etc.
- Very aggressive exercisers show extreme aging
- Negative effects of lifestyle won't show up epigenetically right away
- Socioeconomic status, education levels can affect epigenetics tremendously
- Stress levels, particularly as a child
- One drink per day (beer or wine) can positively affect epigenetic rate
- Females age at a slower rate than men
- African Americans tend to age slower than other ethnicities
- Environmental factors: air pollutants, non-native EMF, water, biological lighting
-How your diet affects your epigenetics…48:15
- Depends on the individual's ancestry and genetic history
- Mediterranean diet tends to favor epigenetics
- It's the diet of the first humans, so it's in more people's history
-Compounds that slow down aging with great efficacy…52:30
- TRIM Trial (Metformin, DHEA, growth hormone, vitamin D)
- TruDiagnostic has a whole host of senolytic compounds on the horizon
- Things that were theoretical a short while ago are reaching clinical practice today
- The “sweet spot” of cellular senescence is dependent on an individual's age, lifestyle, genetic history, etc.
- Stem cells are poisoned by senescent cells
-What Dr. Stickler and Ryan Smith would do if their biological age was less than optimal…59:45
- Regular exercise
- Sleep tips
- Understand how your chronological age will affect your testing
- Repeating telomere testing – wait around 5 years to get an actionable outcome
- Repeating epigenetic age testing – after 6 months, effects lifestyle pattern shift are seen
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
– Ben's TrueAge Results:
– BGF podcasts:
- Life Length telomere testing
- Brian Kennedy article: Talking biomarkers and interventions
- Article: Tracking the Epigenetic Clock Across the Human Life Course: A Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Cohort Data
- Article: DNA methylation-based biomarkers and the epigenetic clock theory of aging
- Article: An New Epigenetic Clock for Aging and Life Expectancy
- Article: mTOR is a key modulator of ageing and age-related disease
–Beatin' Path Media: You've got digital media needs, and James Newcomb of Beatin' Path Media has got you covered. James is the audio editor and show notes copywriter for the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast and wants to help you take your podcast, audiobook, or videos to the next level.
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