This may sound ridiculous, but the majority of people do not actually know their real age. I have personally observed that many, especially the elderly ones, manifest three ages. The first is the chronological or calendar age. This is the real date of birth. Old people who were born in enlightened families have accurate records of their births. In the villages, there were no birth certificates, as deliveries were done by traditional birth attendants in homes, and not hospitals and maternities. For Christians, infant baptismal certificates had information on the dates of birth. Sometimes, the actual date may not be known and certain assumptions are made to fix an arbitrary one. This is acceptable, since a date must be adopted for record purposes.
The second age is the official one. It is the age used for public records. Many reduce their official age for the purpose of employment and retirement. They do so to stay long in service and delay retirement. The normal retirement age in Nigeria is 60/65, but clergymen, judicial officers and university professors retire at 70. Civil servants are widely known to reduce their ages. The process is easy. Just swear an affidavit to effect the change. This declaration of so-called official age is taken for granted but, really, it is falsification. A person of integrity would not falsify his biodata to be in employment.
The third one is the biological age. Our body systems to grow old at different rates. This is why a man of 50 years may look like someone of 60, while a 65-year-old woman may look just 55. The biological age depends on several factors, including genetics, ‘ageing clock’, diet, physical activities and attitude to life.
Usually, nobody wants to look older than their age. Women, in particular, make serious efforts to look younger and remain beautiful. Sometimes, in the process of achieving this, some apply noxious preparations to their skins.
Medical science has recently discovered how we age biologically. Nutrition experts have found out that advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are responsible for speeding up the ageing process. The body forms AGEs and we also consume them in certain foods.
When the quantity of AGEs in the body gets high, they can cause wrinkles, sagging skin, kidney and nervous system damage, clogged arteries, diabetes, cataracts, inflammation and other age-related diseases, and eventually, death.
AGEs are formed in the body when sugars combine with amino acids. High blood sugar, therefore, can trigger formation of AGEs.
Research has shown that foods of animal origin such as meat, poultry, fish and cheese have high levels of AGEs. Levels of AGEs rise when foods are cooked. The higher the cooking temperature, the more AGEs are produced. Therefore, frying, grilling and roasting increase the rate of AGEs formation.
Foods of plant origin –fresh fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains are lowest in AGEs. It has been shown that Noni juice, which contains a high quantity of iridoids, effectively reduces AGEs in the body. Potatoes are expectedly low in AGEs but, when they are prepared as French fries, the levels of AGEs increase by 89 fold. Fried bacon and fried chicken are very high in AGEs.
People who regularly consume a high AGE diet have significantly higher levels of AGEs in their blood. When they are placed on a low AGE diet, the levels of AGEs fall and the rate of ageing declines also.
Limiting sugar in your diet is a key to longevity because sugar molecules inflict damage to the body. Fructose, in particular, is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates AGEs and speeds up the ageing process.
Consumption of foods such as white bread, pastries, cookies and candy increase the sugar in the body and add to the havoc. Heavy consumers of soft drinks and fruit juices add excess of sugar to their bodies.
High-sugar diets lead to obesity. Carbohydrates like fructose and other sugars destroy your insulin sensitivity which, in turn, causes your cells to accumulate more fat. This makes it more difficult to get rid of the extra weight, as well. Therefore, if you want to look and feel younger, drastically reduce all forms of sugar in your diet.
By now, you should have determined your true age. It is not your calendar age, which can be real or falsified. It is not your official age, which is usually below the calendar age. We usually celebrate these ages and, many a time, mark them with expensive parties. But the most important age, the biological age, which indicates the real rate of ageing and eventual death, we tend to ignore.
Today, machines are available to enable you determine the level of AGEs in your body. If the level is high, you have to take the appropriate steps to reduce it and extend your lifespan in good health.