New research indicates you have an aging personality, or “ageotype,” that determines how your body changes over the course of time.
A study published in Nature Medicine looked at 106 healthy individuals age 29 to 75. Over the course of two to three years, researchers used blood, saliva, and urine tests, as well as genetic analyses, microbiome inspections and more to find four distinct ageotypes or “personal aging markers”: immunity, metabolic, liver dysregulation and kidney dysregulation. And this is really just the start—researchers posit that future science could uncover other types (like ones associated with the brain or heart).
“It’s like a car,” Michael Snyder, PhD, co-author of the study and director of the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford University, tells Well+Good. “When your car gets older, all parts age, but some parts—such as your transmission—go out of whack first and you want to identify those and ideally repair them.” If someday you find that you’re a cardiovascular ager, for example, you might make selective interventions to improve it by exercising regularly and watching your cholesterol, he says.
Of course, ageotypes aren’t the medical community’s first attempt to strip down the complicated human experience of aging. Theories like telomere shortening and senescence-associated secreted proteins have looked at the aging body as a whole. Dr. Snyder’s team is the first to focus on specific physiological hotspots that present the signs of aging.
“For the first time we can measure how people age over an actionable timeframe—within two years,” says Dr. Snyder. “Right now if you try to do something to improve your aging—like Metformin [used to treat high blood sugar levels], you have no idea if it is working.” Your ageotype lets you “know thyself” on a level that goes way beyond skin deep—and it just might help you live longer.
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