We are as young as we feel. Chronological age and true age can often be very different, depending on our diet and lifestyle habits. I feel younger and more energized than I did 10 years ago because of how different my life is now, and I believe my cells would show that under a microscope.

Scientists have recently discovered that not only do people of the same chronological age appear to be different actual ages in their tissues, but that different parts of the body in the same person can age at different speeds.

Aging is caused by many factors. Diet, stress, hormones, and environment all play a part in the aging process. Some parts of the body, like the brain and heart, are renewed faster so they are technically younger.

The heart, on average, is nine years younger than a persons chronological age. The scientists who completed the study on aging believe this is because of the stem cells that constantly regenerate the heart.

In general, the parts of the body that age the fastest are the ones that are most diseased. Cancer cells appear to be as much as 36 years older than the chronological age of the person. Even healthy tissue surrounding cancerous tissue is 12 years older than tissue in the rest of the body.

It is somewhat of a what came first? argument, as the cancer may have accelerated aging, or the accelerated aging may have caused or exacerbated the cancer.

In healthy adults, female breast tissue ages the fastest. This may because of the fluctuating hormones that flow through the breasts. Womens breasts tend to be two to three years older than her chronological age. This accelerated aging in breast tissue may be one of the reasons breast cancer is the most common type in women. It may also explain why cancer tends to occur more in older people.

The parts that show age first are a little more obvious. Skin that is exposed to sun, especially the neck and back of hands, will develop wrinkles and age spots sooner than protected skin. The skin of the elbows and knees loses elasticity over time and begins to sag.

Joints tend to show signs of aging sooner than other parts of the body, as well. Using a high-quality moisturizer especially one containing sunscreen-regularly can slow the signs of aging on the skin.

Forever Young

While there is no scientific fountain of youth, you can slow the aging process by making certain dietary and lifestyle choices. Toxicity, stress, and a lack of exercise all age the body faster. Eat clean, healthy food and avoid processed food products whenever possible. Rest your body and brain frequently. Exercise at least five days a week.

Exercise that stimulates the lymphatic system, such as jogging, rebounding, and jumping jacks, helps maintain breath health. Weight-bearing exercise will help keep skin tone and bone strength.

Not all parts of our bodies age at the same speed. Diseased tissue seems to age the fastest. In healthy people, female breast tissue ages faster than other parts of the body. These new discoveries can help us understand how flexible aging actually is, and do our part to maintain health and vitality whatever our age.