You have two ages, chronological and biological. Here’s why it matters

Reminiscent of a scene from “The Social Network,” the whiteboard in researcher and professor Morgan Levine’s Yale Medical School office is covered in a series of letters and numbers. She clicks the red cap back onto the dry erase marker and steps back to admire her work. In front of her, the equation stretches across … Continue reading “You have two ages, chronological and biological. Here’s why it matters”

Reminiscent of a scene from “The Social Network,” the whiteboard in researcher and professor Morgan Levine’s Yale Medical School office is covered in a series of letters and numbers. She clicks the red cap back onto the dry erase marker and steps back to admire her work.

In front of her, the equation stretches across multiple lines, taking up much of the surface. This algorithm represents a new way of thinking about age. “In my lab, we work on a lot of different types of aging measures,” Levine said. “One of the most recent ones is based on blood measures you get at your normal doctor’s appointment. We basically take those and combine them using different algorithms to get what we call someone’s phenotypic age or biological age.”

    Live Longer Essentially, everyone has two ages: a chronological age, how old the calendar says you are, and a phenotypic or biological age, basically the age at which your body functions as it compares to average fitness or health levels.Read More”People of the same chronological age aren’t all at the same risk for developing cardiovascular disease or cancer or even dying,” Levine said. “What [the biological age] does is actually give us a better idea of where someone stands for their age.””Chronological age isn’t how old we really are. It’s a superficial number,” said professor David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. “We all age biologically at different rates according to our genes, what we eat, how much we exercise and what environmental toxins we are exposed to. Biological age is what determines our health and ultimately our lifespan. Biological age is number of candles we really should be blowing out. In the future, with advances in our ability to control biological age, we may have even fewer candles on our cake than the previous one.”Slow down and live long with the ancient practice of qigongLevine and her team identified nine biomarkers taken in a simple blood test that seemed to be the most influential on lifespan. The biomarkers include blood sugar, kidney and liver measures, and immune and inflammatory measures. Levine plugs those numbers into the computer, and the algorithm does the rest.People with a biological age lower than their chronological age have a lower mortality risk, while those aging older from a biological standpoint have a higher mortality risk and are potentially more prone to developing the diseases associated with the higher age range. But perhaps what’s most important here — unlike results from genetic testing — is that these are measures that can be changed. Doctors can take this information and empower patients to make changes to lifestyle, diet, exercise and sleep habits, and hopefully take steps to lower the risk and improve their biological age.Plants and extreme fitness: How one man added years to his life “I think the most exciting thing about this research is that these things aren’t set in stone,” Levine said. “We actually know a lot about how to change some of these markers. I think we are given the information much earlier in the process, hopefully before someone ever develops disease, and then they can really take steps to improve their health before its too late.”Levine, who has been fascinated with aging ever since she was a young girl, even entered her own numbers into the algorithm. She was surprised by the results.”I always considered myself a very healthy person,” she said. “I’m physically active; I eat what I consider to a fairly healthy diet. I did not find my results to be as good as I had hope they would be.”She now tries to get more sleep and changed her diet and exercise routine. “It was a wake-up call,” she said.Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter

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      Levine is working with a group to provide access to the algorithm online so that anyone can calculate their biological age, identify potential risks and take the steps to help their own health in the long run.”No one wants to live an extremely long life when they are in very poor health and have a lot of chronic disease,” Levine said. By delaying the onset of diseases and cognitive and physical functioning problems, “people can still be engaged in society,” she said. “I think that is the ideal we should be striving for.”

‘Iron Chef’ fights chronic pain with food

In his kitchen, chef Seamus Mullen is cutting up avocados as he recalls a time when it felt like he was the one getting sliced.

“Initially, I just felt like my whole body was achy. It went from that to acute attacks, like having a knife stabbed in my shoulder. Then I would get a pain that felt like there was a nail going through my joint. I had no idea what was going on.” He tried his best to work through the pain, chalking it up to exhaustion from long hours in the kitchen. For a new chef trying to break into the industry, 16-hour work shifts and 90-hour weeks were the norm.

    “It was really brutal, but that’s sort of how you cut your teeth and learned how to become a professional chef. We worked hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t necessarily work smart.”But the hard work was paying off. Mullen’s star was heating up in the culinary world. Outside of his restaurant work, he began appearing on shows like “The Next Iron Chef” and “Chopped.” He didn’t have time for the mysterious pains to derail his career. Read MoreSeamus Mullen was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2007.

    Burnt out

    The long hours and physical labor, however, began taking a bigger toll on Mullen’s health. He was gaining weight and suffering more acute attacks as the chronic pain spread across his body. Then, one morning, he woke up with hip pain so bad, he couldn’t move. A trip to the ER and an MRI revealed that his hip was full of fluid. Mullen was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease.”I, like many people, thought arthritis was a disease or an affliction of the elderly. That was shocking to learn that it was a debilitating disease that would have a long-term, permanent impact on my life and my well-being. It was really scary.”Fearing that his disease could leave him in a wheelchair or with hands no longer able to cook, Mullen was up against the wall.”I had to make a choice about whether I was going to just accept being a sick person or if I was going to crawl my way out of this somehow. I made a promise to myself that I was going to change my life. I didn’t know what I was going to do. But I was going to take control of my health.”Chef Seamus Mullen uses “hero foods” to fight pain from rheumatoid arthritis.

    Recipe for health

    So Mullen began cooking up ways to improve his health, starting with his diet.”I came from a professional background of knowing how to make food really delicious, but I didn’t really know what happened to that food. So many of the foods that I was eating were having an inflammatory impact on my body.”Mullen stopped eating processed foods and any foods known to be inflammatory. With everything he ate, he would ask, “is this helping me or harming me?”The ones that helped, he labeled “hero foods.”Mullen is now pain-free and maintains an active lifestyle. On the day of this interview, Mullen let CNN film him making lunch: a small plate of hard-boiled eggs and a salad of kohlrabi, radish, cucumber, shallot, avocado, anchovies and extra virgin olive oil.”It’s a simple salad that’s really tasty and full of great stuff. Healthy fats from the extra virgin olive oil and anchovies as well as the omega-3s and tons of vegetables.”Though these foods check the “hero” mark, he points out that everyone should find the right mix of food that works for them. “For me, it might be avocados; for someone else, it might be almonds. I think it’s really important for everyone to start to understand the foods that make them feel really good.”The change has been dramatic. Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter

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    There was a time when even getting out of bed was a challenge for Mullen. He’s now pain-free and practices yoga, lifts weights, bikes and cooks without fearing an arthritic attack. “I’m glad that I got sick. I’m glad that I went through this really difficult and horrific period of my life, because I came out of it with a greater sense of purpose.”

      He’s now trying to be a hero for others with similar pain. In his cookbooks, “Real Food Heals” and “Hero Food,” Mullen shares ways he’s rediscovered his joy of cooking and eating.”It’s very important to remember that you can eat really well for health and at the same time eat well for pleasure, indulgence and joy.”

El Paso to drink treated sewage water due to climate change drought

The people of El Paso, Texas, are resilient. Living in the middle of the harsh Chihuahuan Desert, the city has no other choice. On average, 15 days every year spike over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The city gets little relief with annual rainfall of just about 9 inches. It’s one of the hottest cities in the country.

One of its prime sources of water is the Rio Grande. Typically the river can supply as much as half of the city’s water needs. But climate change is making that increasingly difficult and is pushing the city to look for new sources of water. Now, El Paso is on track to become the first large city in the United States to treat its sewage water and send it directly back into its taps. Climate change is already here, and heat waves are having the biggest effect, report saysIncreasing temperatures will make the dry region even more vulnerable to drought, according to the federal government’s most recent national climate assessment. Already challenged with balancing the demands of about 700,000 thirsty El Pasoans along with agriculture and industry needs, El Paso must also face the fact that climate change is literally drying up one of its major sources of water.

    Analyzing tree ring records, scientists have been able to reconstruct the climate history of the region as far as the late 1500s and have found that as temperatures have risen, the amount of snow melting and feeding the Rio Grande has dropped. “We’re getting less runoff now than we would have gotten as recently as the ’80s or ’90s,” said J. Phillip King, a professor of civil engineering at the University of New Mexico. King has tracked the river’s water levels for the past 27 years as an adviser to the Elephant Butte Irrigation District. The district manages the water distribution of some 90,000 acres of farmland along the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico and Texas. The Kentucky county where the water smells like dieselRead MoreKing told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta that there is simply less snowmelt coming from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado to feed the river. Since 1958, the amount of early April snowmelt going into the Rio Grande has dropped 25% due to less snowpack and evaporation.What’s happening in the Rio Grande is not unique. It’s a phenomenon happening throughout the Western United States.King called the Rio Grande a harbinger of what’s to come. “You know we’ve already gotten critically low here, and you can think of the Colorado as a few years away from a similar fate,” he said. Drought isn’t anything new for the 1,800-mile long river. The Rio Grande has survived severe and sustained droughts, King said. But an increase in temperature is pushing both a warmer and dryer climate. And that means not only potentially less snowfall but a greater chance for water to evaporate. The federal government projects that temperatures could rise an additional 8 degrees Fahrenheit in the region by 2100. 15 takeaways from the US climate change reportThe dwindling reserves are apparent at Elephant Butte Reservoir, just outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The reservoir there sits right on the Rio Grande and forms the largest recreational lake in the state. It holds water for farmers from north of El Paso up to Colorado. It has a capacity of about 2 million acre feet, King said. Currently, it’s hovering around 3% to 4% of its full capacity. Buildings that were built as offices during the dam’s construction in the early part of the 20th century were previously submerged in the 1980s. Now, they serve as lookout points to a nearly empty basin.

    Finding alternatives

    For those who rely on the river, like the city of El Paso, they must look for alternative water sources out of necessity. It is something that El Paso is used to. When Ed Acrhuleta took the helm of the El Paso Water utility in 1989, he knew that drought was an issue. To make a long-term plan, he needed a long-term outlook. An assessment by the Texas Water Development Board determined that the city could expect to run out of water by 2020 if it continued to rely on pumping groundwater out of its aquifers. “I thought, we’ve got to reverse this mining of the aquifer. We’ve got to stabilize that aquifer. And we have to diversify our resources,” he told Gupta. Americans are worried about climate changeExpanding the water portfolio was Archuleta’s mission. Instead of relying solely on pumped groundwater, Archuleta expanded El Paso’s water portfolio. Farmers in the Western United States typically organized a system of rights or allotments to use water off of the river, including the Rio Grande. The rights were attached to property, so the El Paso utility began leasing water rights from farmers. The utility also bought farmland that carried those rights. David Gutzler, a climatology professor at the University of New Mexico, likened an expanded water portfolio to a financial one. “If you can mix and match, then you use one or the other,” Gutzler said. And it’s the flexibility that ultimately makes cities more resilient, he said. But in a move that was more visionary than just looking for water, Archuleta made water. He lobbied the federal government for funds to create the world’s largest inland desalination plant. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant is named after the Texas senator who helped Archuleta lobby in DC for the plant. According to El Paso Water’s hydrologists, under the 10 million acre feet of fresh water in the Hueco Bolson aquifer it relies on, there is an additional 30 million acre feet of brackish water that can be treated and used as drinking water. It’s estimated that the entire state of Texas has nearly 3 billion acre feet of salty groundwater to use. That’s more than 20,000 times the amount of water El Paso used this year.

    Producing water

    Toda,y the Kay Bailey Hutchison Plant can produce up to 27 million gallons of water daily. The plant scales its production up and down based on how much water is available in the river and its aquifers. Next year, El Paso expects desalination to provide 7% to 9% of its water.”This plant was built for growth. It was built for drought protection. It basically gives El Paso an insurance policy against drought,” Archuleta said. He also preached a gospel of conservation. He established community outreach programs with a mascot called Willie the Water Drop and created a museum about water for area children to visit and learn where their water came from. The city paid residents to turn their grassy yards into rockscapes. The El Paso paper published the names of high water users. When Archuleta retired in 2013, water consumption had dropped by about 35% per person. El Paso uses less total water now than it did 24 years ago, despite having 170,000 more people to serve.

    Drinking treated sewage

    Today, El Paso is ready to take the next step in expanding its water portfolio. It is building a closed loop system that will treat sewage water and turn it directly into drinking water. Among water professionals, it’s called “direct potable reuse” or “advanced purification.” “It’s the logical next step for us to take,” said Gilbert Trejo, the chief technical officer of El Paso Water. El Paso; Orange County, California; Scottsdale, Arizona, and several other utilities across the country treat sewage water and then pump it back into the aquifer to ultimately drink. Trejo says it can take about five years for the water to filter through the ground before being pumped back out and treated to the standards of clean drinking water.This treated water is also frequently used for irrigation and industrial purposes. El Paso is building a completely closed loop facility; instead of being pumped back into the aquifer, the treated sewage water will undergo additional filtration and then be sent back into drinking water pipelines. “We see this water that’s clear and it’s of good quality,” Trejo explained to Gupta. “The next thing for us to do is to take a high-quality water we produce at a state-of-the-art facility and then treat it a little bit more with multiple treatment processes so we can drink it.” According to the EPA, the amount of wastewater produced in large cities can represent 50% to 60% of the total water supplied, providing a massive resource for cities like El Paso that are scouring for water. To make sure the water is clean of any pathogens or microbes, treated sewage water is sent through multiple steps of filtration, including UV and carbon filtration. Studies have found that treated water is, in fact, less likely to have contaminants than untreated river or lake water. Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter

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    Efforts by other municipalities in Texas and California to use “direct potable reuse” haven’t always gotten off the ground because of the “ickiness” factor. Community buy-in is key to getting these projects launched, said Justin Mattingly of the Water Research Foundation. “These are public agencies. They belong to the public. So you might as well ingratiate the public as well.” Archuelta’s legacy of water conservation and education has primed El Paso for this moment. “Everybody sees that we’re in the desert that we’re in an arid climate. Rain is scarce … so when we tell our customers that we’re doing everything possible and using every water resource around us to treat and make it safe for consumption, they take it pretty well.” By 2030, El Paso Water expects that desalination will produce 10% of its water supply, and 6% will of come from advanced purification.

      Trejo told Gupta that it’s not just the future for El Paso, it’s the future for many other cities also faced with having to look for water. “Technology allows us to treat [water] to a very high standard and makes it very safe to drink. Water really is all around us in every city.”

‘Nightflyers’ turns George R.R. Martin novella into Syfy pretender

Having created the blockbuster “Game of Thrones,” George R.R. Martin’s works are suddenly in high demand. But “Nightflyers” — a series based on a 1980s Martin novella — proves a tediously generic haunted-house-in-space odyssey, one that Syfy is either (charitably) experimenting with or (more likely) rapidly exhausting by making all 10 episodes available simultaneously with its linear-TV debut.

Set in 2093, there’s a timely element to the underlying premise of escaping a polluted Earth described as a “dying planet,” as a small international crew engages in an expedition to encounter alien life at the solar system’s edge aboard a ship known as Nightflyer. Space really is the final frontier.In addition, the scientists/explorers are accompanied by a telepath, whose services they’ll need to make contact but who, given the dangers associated with those abilities, they don’t trust. The high stakes are all set up by an opening sequence that hints of the mayhem to come, with the mission psychiatrist (Gretchen Mol) warning, “Do not bring the Nightflyer back to Earth!”

    What follows, however, is alternately chaotic and generic — down to the general look of their spacefaring environs — featuring an assortment of wholly nondescript characters, largely squandering the cast.While the murky nature of everyone’s motivations should provide an element of suspense, because there’s so little investment in the personalities at risk — which include a mysterious captain (David Ajala), the chief engineer (Bryan F. O’Byrne) and an astro-physicist (Eoin Macken) nursing personal wounds — it’s hard to care who will survive the journey.Read MoreAdapted into a long-forgotten movie 30 years ago, “Nightflyers'” shortcomings largely mirror those of “Origin,” a strikingly similar sci-fi premise that recently premiered on YouTube. Because the Syfy show essentially joins the story in the middle, there’s a similar sense of playing catch-up throughout, starting with sorting out what an “L-1” level empath can do, and exactly why the crew members are so nervous about having one among them. Syfy nevertheless seems determined to make “Nightflyers” feel like an event — billing it as such, leveraging Martin’s name to the hilt, and airing the episodes over consecutive nights Sunday through Thursday over two weeks, coupled with the option to binge them online.

      The desire to catch lightning in a bottle in the way that “Thrones” did is certainly understandable — one half expects to see “George R.R. Martin’s High School Yearbook” — but “Nightflyers” merely reinforces that such alchemy is exceedingly rare. And while the two might share literary lineage, the new series is at best a pallid pretender.“Nightflyers” premieres Dec. 2 at 10 p.m. on Syfy. All 10 episodes will be available at Syfy.com.

Kid Rock slams Joy Behar in Fox interview

Kid Rock went after “The View” co-host Joy Behar in a live interview on Friday’s “Fox & Friends.”

Fox’s Steve Doocy was interviewing Rock when the singer began discussing how politically divided the country is currently. “People need to calm down, get a little less politically correct and I would say you know, love everybody. Except, screw that Joy Behar bitch,” Rock said.

    Doocy told Rock, “You cannot say that. We apologize for that.” Rock tried to walk back his comments by saying, “I mean, lady.”Read MoreIt’s unclear why Rock lashed out at the TV host. Fox’s co-host, Ainsley Earhardt also told viewers, “We do need to apologize. We don’t feel that way about Joy Behar. We don’t condone that language.”Behar has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and when Rock, Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent visited The White House last year, Behar called it “the saddest day in in the history of the White House since the British burned it to the ground in 1814.”

      On Thursday, Behar celebrated 20 years at as a co-host of ABC’s “The View.”CNN has reached out to Rock, Fox and Behar for comment.

Megan Fox confirms that she and Shia LaBeouf were a thing

There was more than met the eye with Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf on the set of “Transformers,” back in the day.

During an appearance Thursday on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” Fox confirmed that she and LaBeouf had an on-set romance.The pair starred in the 2007 film and the 2009 sequel.

    Fox was fired from the franchise in 2009 after criticizing director Michael Bay. On Thursday she opened up about her relationship with LaBeouf while playing the game “Plead the Fifth” in which contestants can only decline to answer one question.Read MoreCohen asked for confirmation of LaBeouf’s comments in 2011 interview in which he was asked about hooking up with Fox and said “Look, you’re on the set for six months, with someone who’s rooting to be attracted to you, and you’re rooting to be attracted to them.””I never understood the separation of work and life in that situation,” LaBeouf said. “But the time I spent with Megan was our own thing, and I think you can see the chemistry onscreen.”Fox admitted to Cohen that it was true.”I mean I would confirm that it was romantic,” she said. “I love him. I have never been really quiet about that, I love him.”The actress was also open about her current marriage to “Beverly Hills 90210” star Brian Austin Green.

      She copped to doing some damage to the house while arguing with him.”I did one time, I got really angry at him and wrote in Sharpie a bunch of like Nietzsche poems all over his wall,” she said.

Grindr president defends same-sex marriage comments amid backlash

The president of the gay dating app Grindr has faced a backlash for appearing to suggest that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Scott Chen, who has been president of the app since August, posted on Facebook that he would boycott the Chinese tech company HTC after reports it had backed US groups opposed to same-sex marriage. But he drew criticism for his comments made earlier in the post.”Some people think marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman. And I think so too. But that’s your own business,” he wrote, after sharing a story about HTC on his personal Facebook page.

    Scott Chen claimed the article published by Into magazine was ‘unbalanced and misleading.’ Chen’s remarks — originally written in Chinese and later translated to English — were picked up and published Thursday by Into, a digital magazine owned by Grindr. Zach Stafford, editor-in-chief of Into, wrote on Twitter Thursday that the publication had learned the “current president of Grindr believes that same-sex marriage is a ‘holy matrimony’ between men and women.”

    Today we at INTO have learned that the current president of Grindr believes that same-sex marriage is a “holy matrimony” between men and women. https://t.co/reidzxovYH

    — Zach Stafford (@ZachStafford) November 29, 2018

    Read MoreChen responded angrily to the article published by Into, saying he had not been contacted for a comment, and branded it “unbalanced and misleading.” Chen acknowledged that “different people have their different feelings about their marriages,” but added that he had been a longtime campaigner for equal rights. Minority employees are often asked to work 'double duty'”I am a huge advocate for LGBTQ+ rights since I was young. I support gay marriage and I am proud that I can work for Grindr,” he wrote in the comments section under the Into article. “The reason I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience,” he said. “I am a straight man married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage.”

      In his original Facebook post, since removed, Chen urged groups which oppose same-sex marriage to donate instead to people “suffering from poverty, hunger, war or natural disasters.” CNN has approached Grindr and Chen for comment.

Netflix cancels ‘Daredevil’

Netflix has axed another Marvel project.

The streaming giant recently canceled “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage.” Now “Daredevil” has been added to the list, a month after it began its third season.”Marvel’s Daredevil will not return for a fourth season on Netflix,” Netflix said in a statement to CNN. “We are tremendously proud of the show’s last and final season and although it’s painful for the fans, we feel it best to close this chapter on a high note.”

    The series starred Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock / Daredevil, a blind lawyer who turned vigilante/superhero at night. Suffice it to say, Twitter was not happy about the news.

    I'm so angry , #Daredevil is one of my favorites heroes and the show was perfect. The cast, the characters, Charlie Cox interpretation was great!!
    Farewell… pic.twitter.com/fj1PDCWiM8

    — Carlangastangas (@horeb_a) November 30, 2018

    Read More

    Yup i’m sure. #Daredevil pic.twitter.com/UHdW4gGz5O

    — يوسف. (@MastervHunter) November 30, 2018

      But fans can take heart as it looks like the series could find a second life with Disney’s upcoming streaming service.”While the series on Netflix has ended, the three existing seasons will remain on the service for years to come, while the Daredevil character will live on in future projects for Marvel,” Netflix said in its statement.

Branson steps down from Virgin Hyperloop One board

Richard Branson has stepped down as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, the transportation company he became involved with last year.

The company and Branson announced the news Monday amid tensions between the prominent investor and Saudi Arabia. Branson recently said he would suspend talks with the kingdom about investments there following the disappearance and death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Branson said at the time that the case, “if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government.”A Virgin spokesman characterized Branson’s departure from the Hyperloop One board as unrelated to Saudi Arabia, adding that the plan always was for Branson to spend a short time stabilizing the company.

    Virgin Hyperloop One has also already done business with the Saudi government. Earlier this year, the company said it would work with the kingdom to bring its technology there. Virgin Hyperloop One did not answer a question Monday from CNN Business about whether the Saudi Arabia hyperloop deal was affected by Branson’s comments. Read MoreKhashoggi was seen Oct. 2 walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia initially denied involvement, but now claims the Washington Post columnist died in a fistfight involving more than a dozen Saudi officials. Branson joined the Los Angeles-based startup Hyperloop One last December, and it was renamed Virgin Hyperloop One. The company is developing a transportation concept in which pods travel at hundreds of miles per hour in a vacuum tube. Advocates believe it will be even faster than air travel.In a statement, Branson said it was the first time in more than 20 years that he’d taken on a chairman’s role.

      “At this stage in the company’s evolution, I feel it needs a more hands-on chair, who can focus on the business and these opportunities,” Branson said in the statement. “It will be difficult for me to fulfill that commitment as I already devote significant time to my philanthropic ventures and the many business within the Virgin Group.”Branson’s seat on the board will be filled by Virgin executive Patrick McCall.

Instagram rolls out Stories for close friends to keep platform intimate

Instagram wants to make it easier to share content with your inner circle.

On Friday, the photo-sharing network announced the ability to share Stories with a smaller group of friends. The feature, called Close Friends, has begun rolling out globally. “Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn’t for everyone,” the company wrote in a blog post. “With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose.”

    Earlier this year, Instagram hit 1 billion monthly users. As the platform becomes bigger, users may not feel comfortable sharing certain content with a wider audience. Analysts say it’s a smart strategy considering users are already flocking from the main feed to Stories. Read More”Stories are in themselves already more intimate. You can share things that are maybe a bit less polished, less perfect, [and] daily moments from your life,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer who covers social media marketing. “From there is the ability to narrow the audience. I think that’s valuable.” Instagram added Stories to its platform in 2016 and usage has taken off tremendously with 400 million people now using the feature daily. Snapchat pioneered the concept of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Instagram lets you share Stories with a smaller group of friends.Tap the “Close Friends List” option in the side menu on the right side of the app to create or add people to the list. The list is private and only the creator can add friends or see who is on it. If someone is on another user’s close friends list, a green ring will appear around their photo in the Stories section of the app. They’ll also see a green badge when viewing that person’s Stories. The move further fuels Instagram’s competition with rival Snapchat, which also lets you share content with select people.

      Snapchat has had a similar custom Stories feature since last year. On the app, Stories can be customized around a specific event or location, like a concert. The Snapchat user decides who can add to the Story and who can see it. “In general, everything that Instagram is doing is in some ways in competition with Snapchat,” Williamson said.