Jennifer Kovacs Nolan, Ph.D., is Goop’s director of science and research. She has an intense bullshit detector, always knows the right thing to say, and has extensive and helpful knowledge of health products that work.
For the most part, I keep things healthy. I eat well, and I like to take a good walk around the neighborhood to raise my heart rate. I control my tension, and during times when the Coronavirus is not spreading, I see friends. (Of course, the Coronavirus has changed things, but I’m keeping the most important habits in the moment – like a lot of sleep – and giving myself plenty of room to maneuver the negotiable stuff: If I don’t get a lot of vegetables at every meal, that’s fine.) I also like to use the occasional health tracker. When I exercise, I track my activity on my Apple Watch – it’s great to see a data-driven visual representation of what’s going on in your body to help you achieve your goals. Technology exists, so why not take advantage of it?
Which brings me to Elysium Health, a health science company that manufactures some of the most innovative biometric technology I’ve seen out there. Elysium’s overarching mission is to take critical scientific advances and turn them into something that you don’t have to be a scientist – or see a doctor – to use. The company’s scientific advisory board includes twenty-five world-famous researchers and physicians, including eight Nobel Prize winning scientists. (accidental). One of its most popular and attractive offerings is a test called the index, developed by an expert on aging and pathology Morgan Levine, PhD. The index looks at a selector Epigenetic markers On your DNA – how many are there, and where they are – in order to determine if you are aging at a faster or slower rate than expected.
I’m the director of science and research at Goop, so when the Index landed on my desk, I was able to do an in-depth review of the science behind it. And while I won’t go deep here – the algorithm you’re using is outside the scope of this article – I’ll say I liked the test itself. The research behind it is complex and well thought out, and the results it provides are simple, straightforward, and easy to understand for almost anyone.
Part of my review was trying to index myself. After submitting the application, I received a box in the mail containing everything I needed to take the test. It was surprisingly simple. (The complicated stuff comes later, at Elysium Labs.) The index test comes with a set of fairly detailed instructions, a small collection flask, a small funnel, a tray, and everything you need to fill in when you’re done. I was careful to follow the directions exactly as they were laid down, which I ended up with easily. The essence of it: Spit it into a tube, seal it, and mail it back to the lab.
After I dropped my sample in the mail, Elysium kept me updated by email and through my online portal confirming that they had received my sample, that they passed quality control, that they extracted my DNA and read and analyzed my methylation patterns. data. (None of this required any action on my part, but I loved knowing what was happening and when.)
When the results email arrived, I have to admit that I was nervous. My fingers crossed that it wouldn’t show that I was aging any faster than it should be. Turns out I wasn’t, which I am very pleased with: my appreciation Biological age– The number they use to represent the approximate age your body appears to be running at, rather than the number of years spent on this planet – it is four years younger than my chronological age. (The “chronological age” is what eecium calls the number of years since your birth, which does not always coincide with the aging of the body since then.) This biological age divided by my chronological age made my cumulative average age 0.93. This means my body age was 7 percent slower than expected. This is a good thing. Although the Index makes no promises about my longevity, this test was a confirmation that the healthy lifestyle I love to live is the best for me.
I like my index results. And since I received it, I have thought about what it would have been like if my results had stated the opposite – that my body was biological past my actual age. Although it was not the result I wanted, I would have reminded myself that the biological age determined by this test is not consistent. In the group she says this: You can change your habits and possibly change your score over time. I’m not saying that an overhaul of the habit will lower your numbers in a couple of months. But in the long run, whatever healthy habits you can maintain, it does add value.
That’s why your results come with a digital lifestyle guide that overrides healthy habits that can improve your rate of aging, whether your biological age is below or above your chronological age. It covers the usual things – a balanced diet, regular movement, good sleep, an active social life, and a mindful outlook. While these tips are general, they are not unimportant. The idea is that these are ways to manage stressors on your body that may contribute to your rate of aging. And if you want to take the test again at some point, you may improve your score.
At the end of the day, the biological age that you get from the index is considered a data point. Like other daily health data you might collect (your steps per day, your resting heart rate, your sleep scores), this is what you make of it. Since I got my results, I’ve been living the same way I usually do. There are no blanket health decisions here. I look forward to returning to normal life, moving a little more and snacking less, whenever that happens. But in the meantime, I am not anxious. I’m glad I built a foundation for healthy habits, and I’m excited to continue building on them. And in a couple of years, I’ll probably do the index again – even if it’s just to keep my data up to date.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, and is not intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article presents the advice of doctors or medical practitioners, the opinions expressed are those of the said expert and do not necessarily represent the opinions of goop.