5 ways to protect your stem cells to stay healthy & younger

Here’s an updated 2013 look at protecting one’s own existing stem cells.

Regenerative medicine is very exciting.

But what’s even better than regenerative medicine?

Preventative medicine.

If one can prevent a problem from occurring in the first place, it is far better than trying to treat it after the fact. Of course in many cases we do not know the causes of diseases so it is difficult to prevent them. However, many diseases are likely caused by problems with stem cells.

Therefore, stem cell research, including the work being done funded by CIRM, is likely to have enormous preventative medicine implications as well.

The average person can do some simple things to protect their and their family’s own population of stem cells and lower their risk of many diseases.

So what can we do?

Don’t get scared, get educated.

Below are some suggestions.

They may sound deceptively simple, but I think they can have a major impact. You’ll note that none of them involve paying thousands of dollars for stem cell infusions. I don’t believe that works. You’ll also note that I do not list taking so-called “stem cell supplements”. Why? Because they almost certainly don’t work.

The main thread running through all 5 suggestions is educating yourself to make little changes that protect your existing stem cells. In turn the stem cells will likely have a better chance to take care of you fixing your injuries, helping you get over illness, and possibly helping you stay a bit younger.

I discuss these kinds of steps for protecting your stem cells and a novel theory of aging based on stem cells in my new book.

1) Lower your risk of skin cancer by protecting your skin stem cells. Become an educated user of sunscreens and about sun exposure. Their use is complex and in fact may be harmful if misused as most of us do.

It seems likely that much or all of skin cancer is the result of UV radiation from the sun damaging skin stem cells. However, it is also recently becoming clear that sunscreens have many potential problems. Their labeling is confusing and it is often unclear just how much protection they afford the user. It is also very concerning that there is growing evidence that some sunscreens may actually increase your risk of cancer either through the chemicals they contain such as Vitamin A derivatives and/or through giving people a false sense of security that they are protected if they don’t burn. There is an excellent article on this including thoughts from several physicians here in the NY Times. It’s important to note that a small amount of sunlight is likely to be healthy by producing Vitamin D in your skin. As it turns out, the majority of people have Vitamin D deficiencies. There has been some very exciting research, including on stem cells, on the importance of Vitamin D for our health. It may be particularly important for preventing cancer, but also other diseases. Whereas research on Vitamins A and E have been disappointing for showing health benefits, research on Vitamin D has proven its benefits and many new studies of Vitamin D are underway. In any case, the best protection from skin cancer is shade or if you have to be out in the sun, clothing. Do not let sunscreen increase your sun exposure dramatically or its use will backfire.

2) Minimize your exposure to plastics, protect all your stem cells. The plastics industry has seen a revolution over the last few decades in their product base such that our lives are filled with products made of or stored in plastics. Unfortunately, the levels of plastics and plastic-related chemicals in our bodies have shot up in parallel. The safety of these plastics is largely unknown, however there is growing evidence that some of the chemicals in the plastics such as Bisphenol-A (see Keep Your Stem Cells Away From BPA)  are dangerous and may increase your risk of cancer. Again, the likely target is stem cells. The plastics industry so far has been very successful in blocking regulation of their products, but that does not mean they are safe and the FDA has expressed growing concern about this issue and Bisphenol-A.

Below left is my guides to plastic use.

Plastics Guide, stem cells
Plastics Guide, stem cells

Some super simple ways to protect yourself include the following: NEVER microwave your food in a plastic container of any kind even if it says it is microwave safe (don’t be deceived–there is no such thing as a microwave safe plastic container), if you want to be really safe, never store your food in a container made of plastic, do not drink water out of plastic bottles, do not let your very young children play with/chew on plastic toys, especially those containing Bisphenol-A. Not only will these steps lower your risk of disease, you also won’t be contributing to the massive pollution of our environment by plastic such as the Texas-sized whirlpool of plastic in the ocean that contains an estimated billion pounds of trash, most of it plastic. Apparently there is another whirlpool of plastic in the Pacific Ocean as well.

We don’t want even microscopic whirlpools or plastic or plastic-related chemicals floating around in us or literally inside of our stem cells, right?

3.) Don’t reprogram your stem cells into cancer: Eat food, not chemicals. A growing trend throughout the world is the consumption of food-like products that are not really food. It’s important to take the simple step of knowing what you are putting in your body. Any packaged food is something you should learn more about before eating. Read the label. Are there many ingredients that sound like chemicals and that you do not know what they are? If so, that’s a bad sign. If they sound like artificial chemicals, that’s what they are. They are not food. The safety of food additives is questionable. Many of these chemicals have no place in our digestive tracks or our bodies. They may alter the epigenetic programming of our stem cells or damage stem cells. As the reprogramming field advances, we are learning the power of chemicals to replace genetic changes in producing iPS cells from skin cells to perhaps one day be used in regenerative medicine. However, chemicals also have the potential to reprogram your normal healthy stem cells into cancer cells.

4.) Exercise your stem cells. No I don’t mean take them out for a walk like a pet. Growing research (see for example here and here) suggests that exercising regularly slows aging and may help maintain a healthier, larger population of stem cells, particularly in the brain, but also in other organs. Exercise is the true fountain of youth and much of its benefit likely stems from stem cells. Of course when we don’t feel well, it’s much harder to exercise, but the point is to do one’s best. Even something as simple as a short walk, gardening, taking the stairs if done almost every day could be helpful.

5) Minimize your exposure to radiation, protecting your stem cells from DNA damage. We have learned in the last couple years or so that many medical tests using radiation have not been administered properly, often exposing patients to enormous doses of radiation. If you need a medical test or are contemplating something like a whole body scan, don’t rush into it if at all possible. Learn as much as you can about the dose of radiation you will receive and the safety protocols in place by those administering the test. Some CT scans, even when performed properly which is what happens almost 100% of the time, deliver the equivalent of up to 500 chest x-rays of radiation.

5 thoughts on “5 ways to protect your stem cells to stay healthy & younger”

  1. Thanks! Another comment re BPA. Many people are unaware not only that Mercury (supposedly the 2nd most toxic substance on Earth) in silver fillings continually ‘vapors’ into our bloodstream & nervous system, which is especially dangerous when you go to just ‘any’ dentist to have those fillings removed (because a special vacuum-like tool is needed to suck up the tremendous outpouring of Mercury vapor that occurs during/after the removal process, effecting patients who endure the process w/a dentist who isn’t properly equipped yet wants your money anyway) — but traditional dentist$ (as opposed to Biocompatible Dentists) also use a sealant that has been proven to contain this same toxic BPA. Isn’t it ‘interesting’ that dentists who ‘initiate’ conversations on such dangers to your health are subjected to having their licenses yanked, which is a main reason that Hal Huggins, a dentist & modern pioneer-activist & author, set up his clinic right across the U.S.-Mexican border. Our teeth & gums are mirrors to our health and are intimately connected to our blood stream & nervous system – yet with all the related ill-health traditional dentistry implies, this industry continues to regulate itself (two+ years behind due to such an outpouring of malpractice cases here in California alone, according to a dentist-member of the review board). And with all the advances in technology and other sciences oriented toward prevention, the incidence of decay has not only risen, but, according to the Pew Research Center, more infants & toddlers than ever before are being subjected to having cavities drilled. The weakling consequences of fillings are so severe (depleting to one’s system), that another study of Olympic athletes showed that most have never had one filling/cavity, some have one, and a few rare instances, two. People – It’s time to start educating ourselves about preventative & alternatives to traditional dentistry. You life literally depends on it. From a patient who, after trusting her dentist, was found to have cavities in every tooth except two (due to a confluence of years of Advil, menopause, and 3 spinal surgeries after years playing semi-pro tennis. All of these, plus the medicines from/during surgeries caused zerostomia, aka ‘dry mouth caused from OTC&Rx medications – plus a greedy dentist who, at best, wasn’t paying attention. All these factors add up to the leading cause in the U.S. of gum disease, cavities, and a much shortened life. Remedy: If your dentist isn’t asking you ongoing questions about what’s going on re your health & stress-levels (and writing it down), find a more-interested dentist. And read a few books about dentistry that’re oriented toward patients & prevention or you’ll end up bankrupt, w/o teeth enough to get a job, friends, romance, not much of anything. Yet my dentists, they’ll be playing golf for years to come. I hope you will learn from my terrible experience. Educate yourself. Now. Before you need to. Adios.

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  3. Brian Sanderson

    Hear hear!
    Don’t forget sugar — it’s also bad news for disrupting the hormonal system and mucking up the function of your stem cells. See, for example:

    Regarding UV radiation… don’t forget the dangers of these new-fangled CFL energy-efficient lights. See, for example:

    Actually, the story of UV has quite a few twists and turns. Given that sunlight has been around throughout evolutionary history, that’s not surprising. A good read is “Survival of the Sickest” by Sharon Moalem and Jonathon Prince…

  4. Pingback: Five simple ways to protect your stem cells to stay healthy and biologically younger | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

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