Do you ever look at celebrities and think – why don’t I look like that? Sure, they have the money, stylists and makeup artists, but it’s hard to deny that some people just seem to age ‘better’. Some people look youthful, while some of us have wrinkles and saggy skin showing up at our 40th birthday.
A recent study looked into how we age and found that there are many different biological ageing pathways and that we do all in fact age differently. In fact, they found four different “ageotypes”. The scientists in California studied people over many years, taking blood and stool samples to get a good idea of their genetic makeup. It helped them determine how each individual was changing and in which organs.
The four “ageotypes” were based on where in the body the cellular ageing process is most active. The bad news is, many of us can be more than one type, but idea behind identifying these types is to help slow down the process.
One of the scientists behind the study, Professor Michael Snyder, likened it to having a car. Just like some parts of your car can wear out faster than others, so do our organs depending on the type we are. Just like with a car, maintaining these parts that are wearing down quicker can make our bodies as a whole last longer! Snyder likened our current healthcare system to ‘sick care’ and that preempting what part of the body might need help in the future can slow down the decline.
The four types were:
Those in this type were more susceptible to disorders such as metabolic syndrome (common symptoms include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity).
To combat this, those people would need to exercise regularly and investigate nutritional; plans such as a Mediterranean diet.
An ageing liver can also lead to similar metabolic systems.
To combat this, those people needed to keep their alcohol intake low, maintain a healthy weight and not smoke.
This type were more prone to reduced kidney function.
To combat this, those types would need to drink plenty of fluids, keep alcohol intake low and watch their blood pressure.
These types are prone to “inflammaging” (chronic low-grade inflammation, which accelerates biological ageing).
To combat this, they would need to eat anti-inflammatory foods, e.g. turmeric, cumin, ginger.
Unfortunately, healthcare isn’t quite ready to be testing people for their “ageotypes” and working out what needs to be done to slow down each of our ageing processes. However, this study is important at proving that we all age differently due to our genetic makeup. Hopefully in the future we will have a quick way to find out our own “ageotype”, but in the meantime, it looks like through healthy eating, reducing alcohol intake and smoking, drinking plenty of fluid and getting exercise we can cover all the bases!