How Old Are You Really? Meet Your ‘Biological Age’
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How Old Are You Really? Meet Your ‘Biological Age’

Biological age won’t help you live forever, but a ‘credit score for your body’ might prolong your lifespan, some scientists say.

By Betsy Morris
Mon, May 30, 2022 11:50amGrey Clock 4 min

Biological age—a measure of health that can be more or less than your chronological age—might help determine your quality of life as you get older, scientists say.

The idea behind biological age is that your cells and organs have ages that vary from your regular age. Many aging-research scientists believe that knowing your biological age could help you postpone or avoid Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease or other age-related illnesses. Some also believe biological age can better predict an individual’s lifespan.

Other scientists agree that biological age is important but disagree that it can predict your life. They say there is no standard way to measure biological age and many of the tools in development aren’t yet proven. At the centre of the debate are hopes that people can prolong their lives by changing their behaviours; a crop of companies are betting on it.

David Sinclair, professor of genetics and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard Medical School, is among the researchers and entrepreneurs promoting the notion of a biological age. He describes it as “like a credit score for your body.”

Dr. Sinclair is 52 chronologically but says he is biologically more like 42. Dr. Sinclair is a co-founder of a new company that is developing a biological-age test.

Some scientists calculate the metric by analyzing biomarkers in blood or saliva; other scientists and engineers do it by comparing individuals with broader aging patterns.

The activities that influence biological age—such as sleep, exercise and diet—are essentially the good habits we already know about. But since everybody’s genes are different, tracking your biological age could help determine which habits are most helpful and how to customize them. For one person, 10,000 steps a day could be optimal, while it is 6,000 for someone else.

People also can attempt to lower their biological age through meditation, yoga or other ways of effectively managing stress. Some, including Dr. Sinclair, use supplements to try to make themselves younger.

Scientists studying aging hope that eventually, individuals will be able to accurately measure their biological age and uncover the steps that influence it to forestall chronic disease and possibly live longer.

Even so, some scientists are sceptical of the process. Some think that even if you do know your biological age, it is a stretch to believe that you could use the concept to help you live longer.

Alex Zhavoronkov, chief executive of Insilico Medicine, which uses artificial intelligence to develop drugs targeting age-related diseases, says biological age is a useful concept for drug development. But he says he doubts that people will be able to use behaviours to live longer, based on studies of lifespan in different countries around the world.

“Extreme optimization of sleep, exercise and diet is unlikely to result in dramatic lifespan increases,” he says.

Growing interest in biological age is fueled by advances in the field of epigenetics, the study of how gene expression is affected by behaviours and the environment.

Dr. Sinclair at Harvard is developing a biological-age test based on chemical changes on DNA found in cells from the side of the cheek taken in a swab you do at home. He plans to launch it with a new company called Tally Health.

Dr. Sinclair has been criticized by other scientists for hyping the results of some of his findings, like the antiaging effects found in the compound resveratrol, claims he rebuts. He says that he doesn’t overstate his research findings and that the resveratrol research was published in leading scientific journals. He has co-founded more than a dozen biotech companies and is invested in most of them, including some that are developing therapeutics that target the biology of aging.

Segterra Inc.’s InsideTracker, a personalized-nutrition company founded by scientists from Harvard, Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, calculates biological age by having users take blood tests and analyzing the samples for markers of conditions like inflammation, heart health and liver or kidney disorder. Those who test as older than their years get recommendations to adjust diet, exercise and supplements.

Many other health startups are offering testing that purports to calculate biological age, sometimes with little scientific backing, and designing supplements aimed at boosting youthfulness.

Stephen Roberts, a winery owner in France, tested himself earlier this year with an at-home blood test by U.K.-based biotech company GlycanAge Ltd. The test was part of an effort by Mr. Roberts to improve his health at age 51.

“I drink. I sometimes smoke and party and eat what I want,” he says, so he expected his biological age to be a lot older than his calendar age.

He says he was shocked when test results reported hisbiological age was 24.

“My first reaction was: ‘This is wrong.’” He says he hasn’t made any changes as a result of the test but plans to test again later this year.

Gordan Lauc, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Zagreb, in Croatia, and chief scientific officer of GlycanAge, says the results make sense given Mr. Roberts’s genetics—longevity runs in his family—and lifestyle, which is likely lower-stress than most.

Michael Roizen, an anesthesiologist and chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic, created one of the first biological age calculators 25 years ago based on a questionnaire. He sold it to digital health company Sharecare Inc., where he receives stock options as a member of its scientific advisory board.

Dr. Roizen now has a book and website due out in the spring, part of a new company he says will be aimed at helping people understand how to live longer.

Exercise, for instance, doemore than strengthen your heart, he says. Working out switches on a gene that starts a chain reaction that increases secretion of a protein that improves memory, studies show. Your methods of managing stress can switch on or off the functioning of more than 250 genes, Dr. Roizen says.

“Your choices have a much more profound effect than just changing whether your heart is beating fast or slow,” says Dr. Roizen.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 24, 2022.



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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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