Improving your cellular health is an incredibly important part of healthy aging. Here’s why, and what you can do about it…
We all hope for a long, healthy life, but unfortunately, age-related diseases are rampant in our modern world. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are inevitable. Healthy aging is certainly possible, but it requires some knowledge of how and why the human body ages, and a commitment to making healthier choices that will slow the aging process. The good news is that many of these things are actually under our control.
One major cause of disease and decline as we age is cellular aging. The truth is, our cells are meant to die off and be replaced by new ones on a regular basis. However, in some cases, as this article describes, this doesn’t necessarily happen as it should:
When we’re young, it’s easy for our bodies to do an exceptional job of [swapping] out used-up cells and [replacing] them with new ones… But as we grow older, life catches up with us: poor diet, lack of exercise, and a stressful lifestyle further contribute to the demise of this important, life-sustaining process. If cellular maintenance continues to degrade, it can eventually cascade into more serious types of dysfunction that can bring about chronic disease.
One manifestation of this is cellular senescence, a state in which bad cells no longer complete their normal life cycle and instead stick around in a type of “zombie” state. Senescent cells are those cells that have somehow been damaged by stress – either internally or from some outside source – but that don’t either repair themselves or self-destruct…
To clarify, healthy cells that become worn out or damaged are programmed to either repair themselves or commit suicide: this is how life persists. But senescent cells are different in that they do neither of these things. They actually impede the life cycle by getting in the way of it. Like a clogged drain, senescent cells gunk up cellular pathways and obstruct the flow of activity that’s responsible for regulating energy levels, sleeping patterns, organ functionality, and many other things.
One study explains cellular senescence as an “irreversible arrest of cell proliferation (growth) that occurs when cells experience potentially oncogenic stress”2 [Note: Oncogenic refers to the potential of cells to become cancerous and form tumors.] Senescent cells are permanently damaged, in other words, meaning they have no capacity to ever serve a useful purpose again. And yet they never go away.
This is obviously problematic, especially when considering the fact that senescent “zombie” cells accumulate in the body over time. The health effects of this are significant and may include symptoms you’re familiar with. Things like:
- Accelerated signs of aging
- Poor metabolism
- Fat accumulation
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Age-related memory loss
To make matters worse, these cells are also known to generate pro-inflammatory cytokines, which have been linked to the growth of abnormal cells within the body which may lead to cancer. Besides these inflammatory effects,
…senescent cells are known to disrupt the structures of healthy tissue throughout the body, provoking all sorts of degenerative effects.
These include damage to the brain, as well as other typically age-associated pathologies such as:
- Memory loss and dementia
- Immune suppression
- Muscle loss
- Muscle loss that’s replaced by fat
Okay, so what’s the good news? What can we do about these destructive cells?
While there’s not really any medically recognized way to clear them from the body, the good news is that there IS something you can do to combat cellular senescence and optimize cellular regeneration and healthy aging, and it’s all about – you guessed it – diet!
Nutrition, it turns out, can be a powerful weapon against “zombie” cells. It not only helps the body rid itself of them, but also prevents them from forming in the first place. The scientific literature is replete with evidence to show that nutritional deficiency is directly linked to cellular senescence. It is often the determining factor behind common health conditions like type-2 diabetes, obesity, chronic inflammation, hypertension, and various other markers of metabolic syndrome.5
Low glycemic diets rich in micronutrients – things like vitamins, trace minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants – have been shown to induce the opposite effect. Functional foods free of processed ingredients, refined sugars, and other damaging chemicals are protective against these types of conditions. The complexity of micronutrients they contain is essential for keeping the body well-tuned. These micronutrients aid in the production of digestive enzymes and hormones that further help to guard cells against senescence. Beyond this, micronutrients help to:6
- Convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into usable energy
- Support a strong and robust metabolism
- Minimize oxidative and free radical damage that leads to inflammation
- Protect against brain degeneration
- Support bone remineralization
- Synthesize DNA
- Repair damaged tissue
- Support muscle movement and flexibility
In particular, you will want to make sure you get plenty of these 13 vitamins every day:
Water-soluble vitamins including the entire B vitamin complex: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5(pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), B12 (cobalamin), as well as vitamin C…, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting enough of the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, along with “trace” minerals like copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Lastly, antioxidants including the vitamins and minerals above, as well as other antioxidant compounds, are extremely important in healthy cellular regeneration and healthy aging.
Antioxidants are commonly found in whole, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, ancient grains, legumes, and pasture-raised animal products. Healthy living is contingent upon having enough antioxidants, including what’s considered to be the most important antioxidant of all: the “master” antioxidant known as glutathione peroxidase.
…Glutathione peroxidase represents the essence of cellular vibrancy. It lives inside every single cell in the body, and is absolutely critical for maintaining a healthy immune system. Glutathione further facilitates enzyme expression, detoxification, inflammation support, and programmed cell death as well – all things that directly counteract cellular senescence.7
Maximizing glutathione intake in order to optimize cellular health can be as simple as knowing the right things to eat. By consuming the following foods regularly, you can help your body to naturally produce more glutathione, and thus stave off cellular senescence and its life-destroying effects: