Stem cells are the building blocks of the human body. These cells can self-renew, but also differentiate, i.e. change in their morphology from one cell type to another, usually a more specialised type, and reproduce any tissue, such as heart, muscle, cartilage, bone or liver tissue.
New-borns have a large number of circulating stem cells that are necessary for development and can help them recover quickly from infectious diseases and injuries.
As we age, the numbers of circulating stem cells in the body begin to decrease each year, gradually making healing and recovery more difficult as we age.
Over the last 50 years, special stem cells have been used to treat different diseases that do not improve with normal medicines. These stem cells are obtained from the umbilical cord and peripheral blood. Today, they are successfully used to treat diseases such as liver damage, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, healing of the heart after a heart attack, muscle diseases, as well as to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and respiratory conditions such as COPD. (article)
And What About Brain Cells? Can Humans Produce New Neural Stem Cells?
According to an article in the Rutgers University Medical Journal, N.J., USA, in recent years, scientists have discovered something very interesting about our brains. It turns out that even in adulthood, we can produce new brain cells. These special stem cells are called neural stem cells. They can renew themselves and create new neurons, as well as other cells that help keep our brains healthy. This discovery has led to a lot of exciting research in the field of adult neurogenesis.
In addition, a receptor that was first identified as necessary for insulin action, and which is also located on neural stem cells deep in the brain of mice, is critical for the longevity of brain stem cells.
The specific protein known as insulin receptor (INSR), which is abundant in neural stem cells and resides in the subventricular zone of the brain, plays a crucial role in sustaining and maintaining a population of specialised brain cancer cells known as glioblastoma stem cells (GBM).
Inactivating INSR in GBM stem cells inhibited the growth of these primitive tumour-forming cells.
The study's author Steven Levison, professor of neuroscience in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University in NJ, USA, says that
"It is important to understand the molecular mechanisms that are critical for the growth and sustenance of brain stem cells in normal and abnormal growth states".
According to Teresa Wood, Professor at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, who directs research at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, "many neurodegenerative disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, are related to the destruction of brain cells. If the functioning of brain stem cells could be influenced, this knowledge could be used to replace diseased or dead brain cells with living ones, which would be a breakthrough in the treatment of neurological diseases and brain injury.
Cell receptors, such as INSR, are protein molecules that reside on the surface of cells. Substances, natural or man-made, that open the 'lock' of a receptor can prompt a cell to divide, differentiate or die. By identifying which receptors perform these functions in specific cell types and understanding their structures and functions, scientists can design substances that act as keys to the receptors, to 'turn them on' or 'turn them off'.
Earlier studies by this research team had shown that a particular 'key' signalling protein known as insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II) was necessary to maintain neural stem cells in the two sites in the adult brain that harbour these primitive cells. In the current experiment, the scientists sought to identify the receptor. To do this, they used genetic tools that allowed them to both remove the INSR and introduce a fluorescent protein to track the neural stem cells and the cells they generate. They found that the number of neural stem cells in the subventricular zone of the brain of mice lacking the INSR was reduced.
The Connection Between Inactivation of the INS-R Insulin Receptor and Neural Stem Cell Production
The insulin receptor INSR is a protein whose dysfunction has effects on diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. It was recently discovered that deactivating INSR inhibits the growth of tumour-forming cells, but also promotes the formation of new neural stem cells, so could eating a diet that controls insulin production, or even fasting, also contribute to these effects?
Studies suggest that controlling insulin production through diet and intermittent fasting may have beneficial effects both in regulating blood sugar (especially in diabetes) and in the prevention or treatment of certain diseases, such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease. However, it is important to note that each person is unique, and results may vary. It is essential to consult with a health professional, such as a doctor or dietician, before making significant dietary changes or initiating fasts, especially if you have any health conditions.
What About Neural Stem Cells - Could They Also Benefit From These Practices?
There is limited evidence regarding the impact of diet and fasting on the formation of new neural stem cells. Some studies have suggested that intermittent fasting may promote brain regeneration and plasticity, which could include the generation of new neural stem cells. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects and implications of these practices on neural stem cell generation. Again, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for specific and safe recommendations in this regard.
How to Increase Stem Cell Production Naturally
Nowadays, there are specialised places where you can receive stem cell transplants, but this can be expensive. What if you are a healthy person and would like to use stem cells as a preventive measure, but don't want to undergo a transplant? Well, you can use your own natural stem cells! The stem cell institute in Thailand proposes six ways to do this - find out how to improve your health naturally!
1) Clean Food Full of Stem Cell Nutrients
Food is medicine, and our diet plays an important role in our body's natural regeneration cycles. Incorporating stem cell-friendly foods into your diet is a critical first step in stimulating natural cell growth.
Intermittent fasting is considered a stem cell activator and has been found to trigger rapid cell regeneration. Berries such as blackberries, goji berries, pomegranate, blueberries and raspberries help to enhance the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is a potent antioxidant. This enzyme is packed with flavonoids that reduce inflammation and is excellent for reducing oxidative stress resulting from inflammation which is a vital factor in supporting optimal liver health and helps prevent joint pain.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Chinese cabbage, garden cress and Brussels sprouts are some of the best foods for stem cell growth. These vegetables are full of sulforaphane, a compound that stimulates enzymes in the liver, which counteract harmful toxins that we may digest or inhale. These leafy greens are also packed with indole-3-carbinol molecules that help reduce inflammatory agents in the bloodstream.
Mushrooms such as maitake and shiitake are also rich in micronutrients known as polyphenols. These nutrients are stem cell boosters and can be important ingredients in a primarily plant-based diet. Shiitake mushrooms help protect and detoxify liver cells from dangerous toxins that can break down the body's hormones.
Seeds and nuts such as macadamia, pecans and walnuts are excellent snacks full of protein and beneficial fats that keep you feeling fuller for longer and help fight any cravings. Seeds such as flaxseed, chia and hemp contain anti-inflammatory plant sterols, while walnuts are packed with alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat that fights inflammation.
Seafood and oily fish are other potent, natural activators of adult stem cells, containing several omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). EPA is most commonly found in cold-water fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and herring. Numerous research studies have shown that fish oil is a potent antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
2) Stop Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Consumption.
Alcohol and cigarette smoking can have serious negative effects on the proper function of stem cells. Research over several decades has shown that people who smoke do not heal as well as non-smokers. Frequent alcohol consumption leads to liver disease and brain oxidative stress due to chronic neuroinflammation.
3) An Active Lifestyle and Exercise Are Natural Stem Cell Activators.
Frequent sport activity or going to the gym has dozens of positive effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory system. Strenuous physical activities cause a rapid increase in the total number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). EPCs circulate in the bloodstream and adhere to endothelial tissues affected by ischaemia or hypoxia. They also contribute to the formation of new blood vessels and capillaries, thereby improving blood supply to the heart. This cycle helps to trigger regenerative processes in the endomyocardial heart muscle.
4) Sleep well: How and How Much Sleep it Takes to Renew Circulating Stem Cells
Research at the Stem Cell Institute in Thailand has shown that lack of sleep or insomnia is very detrimental to stem cell function in the body. A reduction of nightly sleep to 4 hours (instead of 8) decreases the migration capacity of stem cells by almost 50%, whereas adequate sleep cycles of 7-8 hours do the opposite and renew the quantitative and qualitative rates of circulating stem cells.
5) Toxic Products and Environmental Chemicals Can Reduce Stem Cell Activation in the Body.
In our daily lives, we are exposed to many chemicals that can be harmful to our health. These substances are found in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the products we use in our personal routine. Although the amounts of these chemicals are small, their constant and cumulative exposure can affect our bodies over the long term. They can also disrupt important processes in our immune system, hormone production and nervous system function, putting our health at risk and increasing the chances of developing diseases such as lupus or fibromyalgia.
We cannot always control everything around us, but we can make informed choices about the products we buy and use. Before buying products such as sunscreen, cleaners, detergents and personal care products, it is important to read labels and do research. That way, we can ensure that we choose products that are safer for our health.
6) Avoid Harmful and Toxic Medications Such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs impede the ability of circulating stem cells to harbour and multiply. Antibiotics such as quinolone not only damage circulating stem cells, but also cells in cartilage and tendons. These potent bacterial antibiotics are often prescribed for urinary and respiratory tract infections.
Fluoroquinolones have many side effects and have been associated with orthopaedic hip injuries and tendon ruptures in the knees. The body's ligaments have their own specific types of stem cells, so some drugs that damage these cells cause weakening or failure of these tendons.
Over the long term, these drugs can lead to ruptures, degenerative disc disease or chronic tendinopathy. Over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can also increase the risk of autoimmune diseases, kidney failure, neuropathy, gastrointestinal problems (Crohn's disease, UC, IBD) or stroke. Instead of resorting to synthetic NSAIDs such as Aleve, ibuprofen, Motrin or Celebrex, try natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric curcumin or fish oil, which do not have such adverse side effects.
The field of stem cells is constantly advancing and knowing the right way to keep our stem cells healthy is critical to our long-term wellbeing.
Instead of relying entirely on external therapies, we can take natural steps to improve the health of our own stem cells.
Imagine having the power to strengthen your own stem cell system and optimise your health. These six natural ways can help you do just that. By choosing this approach, you are taking a bold step to enhance your body's function, efficiency and overall well-being. You are in control of your health and we can harness the wonder that is our own body to achieve the best possible results!