Stem Cells Health and Aging

by Steven Carney on May 25, 2014

This is post #106 on the site (preserving your stem cells for better health and longevity). The site is a collection of breakthrough articles and resources at your fingertips! Feel free to browse the information here.

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I covered stem cells in a recent post about telomeres and genes. At the time, I felt I needed to explore stem cells in more detail, so this post was born!

Stem cells are unique because they can become different types of organ and tissue cells, depending on what’s needed. They are also called somatic or undifferentiated cells in adults. Stem cells have an unusual capacity to divide and reproduce without the limits most other cells have (remember, most cells have limiting ends called telomeres).

Telomeres typically limit the number of cell divisions, but the number is influenced by daily lifestyle habits (nutrition, activity, stress, sleep, etc.). In adults, stem cells are most active after injury or disease as they facilitate organ and tissue repair. Many stem cells remain in a somewhat dormant state and when people live an unhealthy life, their numbers tend to decline with age. But know this: a good supply of healthy stem cells is a treasure worth more than gold. You need to guard your stem-cell treasure!

The basics

Stem cells were discovered about 50 years ago and occur in several groups in adults. Some of the most prolific are the hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells (both from bone marrow). These stem cells can each make an array of additional cells.

1. Hematopoietic stem calls create a range of blood and immune cells:

  • Red blood cells
  • Platelet cells
  • Macrophage cells
  • Neutrophil cells
  • Baselphil
  • Lymphocites
  • Natural Killer cells

2. Mesenchymal (also called stromal cells) make another range of tissues, including:

  • Bone/skeletal cells
  • Cartilage cells
  • Connective tissue cells
  • Fat cells

3. Additional stem cells reside throughout various tissues and organs in the body (called satellite cells), and they help with healing and repair of a wide range of tissues and organs, including:

  • Brain and nerves
  • Muscles
  • Blood vessels
  • Digestive tract
  • Skin
  • Teeth
  • Liver
  • Sex organs, etc.

Lifestyle matters!

As mentioned earlier, lifestyle plays a significant role in the health and function of all your genes and cells, including stem cells. For example, a lifestyle that includes daily intakes of sugar, wheat and processed foods will raise inflammation, contribute to faster aging and more disease development. That’s because sugar, wheat and processed foods raise glucose levels, which are toxic to tissues. Excess sugar also causes glycation, which is a corruped form of protein molecules.

Another problem for cellular health is processed veggie oils (corn, soy, etc.) and fried foods, because they raise inflammation, oxidize quickly and can cause genetic mutations, another big source of genetic/cellular harm. See details below for more about harmful and helpful lifestyle choices.

So compared to most cells, stem cells are unique. Although some stem cells have longer telomeres, others have more telomerese, the enzyme that allows cells to add longer telomeres.

Stem cells with longer telomeres can have many more cell divisions than normal cells. And some stem cells have more telomerase so both combinations exist to help stem cells last longer. Think of stem cells as a special savings account that you can draw on when you need to heal from tissue damage or illness.

Lifestyle adds or subtracts telomeres

As mentioned earlier, lifestyle influences telomere length in most cells, including stem cells. And healthy lifestyle choices are the best foundation to maximize stem cell health, function and overall telomere length.

Research in a field called epigenetics (how environment and lifestyle affects your genes) has indeed shown that lifestyle influences genes and gene activation, which directly affects health and longevity. For example, great nutrition with good micro-nutrient intake, activity and exercise, stress management and quality sleep can help to activate your health genes and turn off (silence) disease genes.

Many health experts now say about 80% of your overall health is due to your daily lifestyle choices, not your inherited genes or age! How you live each day is the key!

Did you know? Many people who live into their 80s and beyond have gene defects! But those genes remain inactive or silenced, often due to a healthy lifestyle. You can avoid most chronic diseases if you choose to! There is no doubt that a healthy lifestyle works all the way down to the cellular level, helping your cell divisions and telomeres function at their best!

Things to avoid

Here are some key things to avoid because they can harm genes, telomeres and stem cells, resulting in worse health and a shorter life (no you’re not invincible to the harmful effects of these foods and lifestyle choices):

  • Smoking (very destructive, adding toxins into your lungs and body, raising inflammation, etc.)
  • Glycation from high sugar intake/glucose levels (degrades proteins, causes wrinkles, bad connective tissue, generates free radicals, etc.)
  • Fried foods (acrylamides from high temperatures cause genetic mutations)
  • Processed and junk foods (full of additives, preservatives, and chemicals that aren’t food)
  • Low vitamin D (a hormonal regulator, requires a blood test to check level)
  • Exposure to chemicals and toxins
  • Radiation
  • Inactivity, lack of exercise
  • High stress levels
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Excess weight (triggers inflammation, insulin resistance and genetic changes)

As you look at the above list, you will probably see the nutrition and lifestyle habits that most Americans and Westerners follow. Those habits take a daily toll, affecting your health all the way down to your genes and stem cells! Those lifestyle habits harm genes and shorten telomeres, leading to more disease and early death (see links below for more details, including my recent post called: Telomeres Genes and Aging linked below).

Those lifestyle habits all tend to increase inflammation, oxidative stress and faster aging, along with the development of chronic diseases (high BP, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc.), further damaging your genes! Yes, it’s a downward spiral that causes DNA mutations, disease and lost years.

Did you know? Many young people in their 20s and 30s already have hypertension/high BP, early heart disease, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and cancer, especially skin cancer. So indeed, bad lifestyle habits are taking a toll earlier than ever. And for anyone who eats and lives an unhealthy lifestyle, you will pay a long-term price (you’re not as invincible as you might think).

Things to do

Now here are some critical things you should do to keep your genes, stem cells and telomeres healthy:

  • Get lots of great, whole-food nutrition (quality proteins, veggies, whole fruits, nuts and seeds, olives, some dairy like cheese and yogurt, probiotics, etc.)
  • Include healthy levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (polyphenols, catechins, etc.)
  • Manage stress/do yoga/meditate
  • Exercise/activity 5 times/week (especially after age 30 or 40)
  • Get good quality sleep (yes, it’s critical)
  • Optimize vitamin D levels by getting your 25-hydroxy vitamin D checked
  • Keep systemic inflammation low (1 or lower on a hsCRP test)
  • Maintain a healthy weight (extra pounds increase inflammation, disrupt metabolism, hormones, etc.)
  • Consider green tea, fish oil (lowers inflammation), SAMe, trans-resveratrol and NAD+ to support cellular and gene health and energy

If you want to slow aging and prevent most gene and stem-cell damage, follow the information from the lists above, avoiding glycation (damaged proteins from too much sugar and refined-carb intake), too low micro-nutrient/antioxidant intake (degrades cells and DNA, increases mutations, shortens telomeres), chronic, systemic inflammation (you won’t always feel it but most adults have it), high stress and an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle, all of which speed aging and drive disease, leaving you with fewer stem cells!

So the process tends to come full circle: an unhealthy lifestyle increases genetic damage and those damaged genes increase inflammation and damage more stem cells and genes throughout the body, harming health and longevity even more! For too many people, it’s a vicious circle that steals years from their lives!

Stem cell activators

Various websites and videos claim that certain nutrients, herbs and supplements can help to improve stem cells and their release, making them more available for tissue repair. So far, the research is early for human subjects. Some claim that they release millions of extra stem cells every day (assuming some of the formulas work as claimed). I’m not sure if more is better in every case. Maybe releasing a modest number of stem cells for health restoration is better, leaving more for future needs.

Supplements like BGA (Blue Green Algae), especially Aphanizomenon Flos-aquae or AFA for short, Fo-Ti (also called He Shou Wu), trans-resveratrol and NAD+ are covered in links below. They show promise for keeping genes and stem cells healthy, while adding nutrients and compounds that can support good health. So I think those are worth considering.

The only other method of using stem cells is through blood transfusions, and those cost many tens of thousands of dollars (I’ve seen estimates ranging from $30,000-$100,000)! And those procedures can involve pain and risk of infection or other problems for you or a donor. So don’t assume medicine will rescue you if you get a serious disease!

I’m actually experimenting with several supplement combinations myself, using supplements that may help genes and stem cells. But I’m using my own combinations rather than buying pre-blended formulas. I should know more in the coming weeks and months. Nutritional approaches are often slower to show results, often taking weeks. Nutritional approaches are based on adding nourishment and pose little risk compared to drugs or medical procedures.

If you would like to have some custom coaching/consulting for your own unique health and anti-aging needs and goals, feel free to drop me a line at: and I can suggest some ideas.

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Helpful Links for stem cells:  (20)  (30)

Video and info:

Bone marrow and stem cell links:

This link has an array of products and product information (I’m not recommending any specific products):

Links to He Shou Wu/Fo-Ti (Polygonum multiflorum):  (40) 

A new study for resveratrol and it’s enhancement of and blood stem cells/progenitor cells:

New BGA (blue green algae) study with cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory and liver health benefits: 

© 2014 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now



{ 1 comment }

Smithb May 26, 2014 at 1:22 PM

You are an inspiration! I read web logs and rarely find ones so well done.

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