As a longtime triathlete interested in maintaining her performance, 58-year-old Nicole decided to take a close look at her health. Her standard blood tests showed few problems, but she wanted to dig deeper for signs that might not be physically apparent, so she ordered the blood tests that examine longevity—a collection of biomarkers specifically geared toward revealing biological age. For comparison, she also ordered a second test for her younger training partner, Megan.
Once the results came in, they were surprised to see that despite their 24-year age difference, Megan’s biological age was much higher than Nicole’s. Megan, a hard-working athlete in her 30s, couldn’t believe it. How could this have happened?
A tale of two omegas
The most glaring issue in Megan’s results were her omega-3 levels. These cardio-protective, inflammation-fighting fatty acids were low in Megan’s blood stream, indicating a need for dietary changes and/or supplementation.
Looking deeper helped shed some light on how a young active woman could have such low omega-3 levels. Megan’s diet was high in seeds and nuts, and also included a lot of soy—all of which are known to increase the amount of omega-6 fats in her body. Omega-6 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that complements the function of omega-3, and both are certainly beneficial compounds, but many believe that omega-6 competes for metabolization with omega-3s, which can actually reduce omega-3’s benefits in the long run. Even worse, high levels of omega-6 can promote inflammation. This may have been the reason for the high levels of inflammatory markers seen in her blood test.
Omega-3 levels aren’t the only useful marker influencing one’s biological age, of course. High levels of inflammatory markers like fibrinogen, a blood-thickening protein produced by the liver, can suggest that metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease are closer than they may appear.
When in doubt, just remember that inflammation = bad. In fact, many of the things we associate with healthy living—meditation, exercise, and adequate levels of nutrients like omega-3s, vitamin D, and folic acid—lead to reduced inflammation. This state may reduce the wear and tear on DNA molecules, protecting genes and allowing our cells to continue dividing for a longer time, which equals longer life spans.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.