What Is Your “DNA Age”?

jackbellis.com
3 min readMay 12, 2023

Your DNA age is around 20–25 years of age. (I don’t like to waste your time with wordy preambles.)

But now let me explain. DNA is the recipe of life. This magical molecule has one curious attribute that is the essence of the miracle we call life, and that is that it perpetuates itself… it duplicates itself ad infinitum. It’s really quite a trick. Life is, in the shortest possible definition (which I call the ‘crossword definition,’ which must consist of only two words), chemical perpetuation. Life is the habit of DNA to manufacture a bundle of chemicals each from the other, until you end up with all this stuff, from the smallest ants to the biggest whales.

And in this mission to perpetuate these chemical bundles, the goal of each generation is to ensure that the next generation grows up. At the dawn of DNA evolution, a molecule duplicated itself instantaneously, and there was no DNA age, or more properly it was zero. But as the bundles progressed to cells and then organisms, the time at which an organism could spawn a new image of itself lengthened. And now, with humans, if you view us as some sort of paragon of this life thingy, it takes us about 15 or more years just to bear young, and then some variable amount of additional years to raise those little offspring to their own state of self-sustainability. In other words, Mother Nature has taken about a half a billion years to get this system where we are at our physical apex — our strongest state, the one in which we are best assured of protecting young — at around 20 years old. Maybe add even a few more years for youthful ignorance to be supplanted by less-youthful ignorance, or even mature intelligence… which is also pretty helpful in ushering in a new generation.

So I’m telling you that DNA is not merely the recipe of life, but a recipe of a very specific construction project: you at 20 to 25 years of age… you at your most virile, alive, impenetrable. I’m proposing that the DNA recipe is not the description of you at 5 years of age, or 95 years of age. Those are stages along the way, of growth and decrepitude respectively; they are not exactly the essence of the recipe. The recipe is on the stove, cooking away until you get to 20-something. When you are on the downslide, that is not the recipe either; it is entropy.

But what’s the point of all this? I‘ll explain. When we take the anti-aging elixir, almost certainly to be discovered in the next 50 years (the taint of quackery notwithstanding), there will be this fascinating question: will we simply stop aging, or will the DNA recipe take over and have NO OTHER ALERNATIVE but to restore us to our 20-something selves??? When I first started blogging about anti-aging progress, I wrote a cute punchline that “reversing age would be preposterous,” (or something to that effect) but the more I think about it, I think we will revert to our “DNA age”! We must. And then we’re left only with this question: will our brains revert to that point in time, or will our gajillion neural connections that comprise intelligence stay connected.

I’ll leave that as a homework assignment for the audience.

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