What’s your Ageotype? The science of why some people look younger than they are
The findings suggested that the four types of ageing were metabolic, immune, hepatic (liver-related) and nephrotic (kidney-related).
We have all been caught wondering how one looks too young for their age, or older. Physical appearances notwithstanding, scientists have been hard at work breaking down factors behind ageing, and have come up with “Ageotypes”. How you age can be completely different from that colleague across the cabin who, on paper, is the same age as you.
A recent Stanford study suggests that everyone has a type. Specifically, everyone falls into four categories of ageing that determine how their body gets old. The study recruited 43 healthy men and women aged between 34 and 68 and followed them for two years. Extensive measurements of their molecular biology were taken five times in this interval. The results were published in Nature earlier this week.
According to Dr Michael Snyder, who headed the study, the scientific community is already aware of clinical markers like cholesterol levels that are indicative of ageing. However, no one had previously followed the same cohort over some time and studied a broad range of molecules and collected multiple samples to study individual experiences of ageing. Blood, stool and other biological samples were taken and levels of proteins, metabolites and lipids were tracked.
The findings suggested that the four types of ageing were metabolic, immune, hepatic (liver-related) and nephrotic (kidney-related). An example of metabolic ageing is the onset of diabetes - there is a rise in the production of haemoglobin A1c which indicated higher blood sugar levels.
Immune-related agers may be more susceptible to autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and overall inflammation. Similarly, hepatic and nephrotic agers will be molecularly more likely to develop chronic liver and kidney diseases respectively.
The researchers said that the labels were not binding or mutually exclusive; you may experience ageing across categories. The ageotype, as they’ve called it, simply refers to the predominant type of ageing experienced by the body - other forms will have not have as much of an influence.
The study also looked at another important component of ageing - differences in glucose processing in healthy people and those that are insulin resistant. Insulin resistant people are less able to properly absorb sugar and more susceptible to diabetes. It was discovered that 10 different molecules act differently in response to sugar between the two groups.
The importance of these findings is that if people can be divided into types of agers, earlier interventions and lifestyle changes can have positive effects on lifespan. Encouragingly, the study found that changes in lifestyle and diet stalled — in some cases briefly reversed — ageing in indicators in individuals.
For example, some people managed to lower production of A1c by exercising more, whereas some in the nephrotic group reduced creatinine levels by taking statins. There were some unexplained findings as well; despite any behavioural changes, some people managed to stagnate ageing indicators, whereas some aged slower than normal naturally. Further research needs to be conducted to better understand these processes.
The study offers an important insight into the science of ageing. While some researches focus on genetic modifications and allopathic interventions, this work may soon yield practical and implementable advice. If there is a reliable method to figure out the kind of ager you are, earlier lifestyle changes can be made that can have a significant long-term effect.
For more information, read our article on Beauty Tips for Age Control.
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