The ‘age is just a number' holds plenty of truth when it comes to your health. The years that you have been on the planet do not necessarily reflect the age of your body’s metabolic processes.
Many Kenyans' bodies are way older than they are.
The rate at which you age, or at least at which you appear to age, is heavily dependent on your lifestyle and how you take care of your body day to day.
So, what is metabolic age? Medics define metabolic age as the measure of the rate at which your body burns calories while at rest compared to the average metabolic rate of people in your chronological age in the general population.
According to nutritionist Peter Maina of Marina Medical Centre, metabolic age is simply a measure of body fitness levels compared to an individual’s actual age.
“Your metabolic age could be lower or higher than your actual age depending on the rate at which your body organs process their respective functions. If your organs are remarkably slow, then it is an indication of an aged body system without regard to one’s actual age,” says Mr Maina.
Mr Maina, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science as well as a Diploma in Clinical Medicine, explains that the fitter, healthier, and stronger you are, the lower your metabolic age.
Interestingly, some people manage to achieve a younger metabolic age, knocking off up to 20 years off their real ages.
What are the contributing factors to an aged metabolic system?
“Metabolic age is greatly impacted by the lifestyles that people lead, with the biggest contributor being the foods we eat. High intake of energy-giving foods without a corresponding intensity of activity, for example, leaves layers of fats stuck in the body leading to unhealthy weight gain which in turn works to slow down the body organs,” explains Mr Maina.
He adds that family genes could also contribute to a fast-aging metabolic system.
“Stress, hormones and substance intake also rank high among factors that speed up the rate of metabolic ageing.”
How would one know that their metabolic age is older than actual age?
“Rapid increase in body weight is among the very first visible signs that all is not well,” says Mr Maina.
Your physical outlook will in deed communicate that your actual age is not in tandem with your metabolic age. Some 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 one’s metabolic age mean to one’s health?
An aged metabolic system spells doom for one’s health and has got far-reaching repercussions.
Unless fixed in good time, a continued rise in metabolic age will eventually lead to a raft of undesirable results among them infertility, obesity, depression low self-esteem and development of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and kidney failure.
“The surest way to fix your metabolic age is by leading a healthy lifestyle, and more of it goes to fixing your diet,” advises Mr Maina.
“Normalise eating complex whole foods that require more energy to break down such as plant proteins. This will help avoid metabolic slowdown.”
Other solutions include fitness exercises, improved sleep and engaging therapeutic activities such as sporting, dancing, and listening to music.