Health & Wellness

When your body is older than your actual age


‘Age is just a number’ has a lot of truth to it when it comes to your health. The years you are on this planet do not necessarily reflect the age of your body’s metabolic processes.

Many Kenyan bodies are much older than them.

The rate at which you age, or at least where you appear to be aging, largely depends on your lifestyle and how you take care of your body on a day-to-day basis.

So, what is metabolic age? Medics define metabolic age as a measure of the rate at which your body burns calories at rest compared to the average metabolic rate of people of your chronological age in the general population.

According to nutritionist Peter Maina of Marina Medical Centre, metabolic age is simply a measure of a person’s level of fitness compared to a person’s actual age.

“Your metabolic age can be lower or higher than your actual age depending on the rate at which your organs process their respective functions. If your organs are very slow, then that is an indication of an aging body system regardless of actual age,” Maina said.

Mr. Maina, who holds a Bachelor of Nutrition and Diploma in Clinical Medicine, explained that the fitter, healthier and stronger you are, the lower your metabolic age will be.

Interestingly, some people manage to reach a younger metabolic age, down to 20 years of age.

What factors contribute to an aging metabolic system?

“Metabolic age is heavily influenced by people-led lifestyles, with the biggest contributor being the food we eat. High intake of energy-giving foods without appropriate activity intensity, for example, leaves a layer of fat attached to the body leading to unhealthy weight gain which in turn works to slow down the body’s organs,” explains Mr Maina.

He added that the family’s genes could also contribute to a rapidly aging metabolic system.

“Stress, hormones, and substance intake also rank highly among factors that accelerate the rate of metabolic aging.”

How do people know that their metabolic age is older than their actual age?

“Rapid weight gain is one of the first visible signs that all is not well,” says Maina.

Your actual physical appearance will show that your actual age does not match your metabolic age. Some of the signs include the development of flaky skin, the presence of visceral fat, and an increase in skin folds.

Other signs include memory loss, reduced libido, and increased fatigue.

So, what does a person’s metabolic age mean for his health?

An aging metabolic system wreaks havoc on a person’s health and has far-reaching repercussions.

Unless corrected in a timely manner, the continued increase in metabolic age will eventually lead to a series of undesirable outcomes including infertility, obesity, depression, low self-esteem, and the development of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and kidney failure.

“The surest way to improve your metabolic age is by living a healthy lifestyle, and even more by improving your diet,” advises Mr Maina.

“Normalize eating complex whole foods that require more energy to break down like plant proteins. This will help avoid slowing down the metabolism.”

Other solutions include fitness training, improved sleep and engaging therapeutic activities such as exercise, dancing, and listening to music.

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By Blanca

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