While research on different types of stem cells continues, it has been around long enough for us to know certain things about how stem cells can benefit us. In case you haven’t been in the loop on stem cell literature and are still wondering “what are stem cells?”, here’s a simple, basic answer. There are basically two types of stem cells called “adult stem cells” and “embryonic stem cells”. Stem cells are unique in that they are not assigned a specific function like most body cells are. Once the body identifies a particular type of cell that needs replacing, it can signal a stem cell to become that type of cell. This is especially beneficial for replacing and regenerating cells that have been damaged. Embryonic stem cells are those that come from a developing embryo and are controversial for several reasons when it comes to their use. These are the cells that divide repeatedly forming all the various types of body cells needed for an embryo to develop and grow. Adult stem cells are found in adults and children naturally throughout the body’s tissues and organs. The term adult simply refers to stem cells not associated with an embryo. Once a baby is born, the stem cells found in his or her bone marrow and umbilical cord are considered adult stem cells.
Adult Stem Cells vs Embryonic Stem Cells
Most of the controversy surrounding stem cell research has revolved around the use of embryonic stem cells. Early research based on extracting stem cells from embryos was desirable because those stem cells were easily located and they are able to easily change into other types of cells. Not all adult stem cells can do that and they are harder to locate in the body. Adult stem cells are best at changing into the type of cell it is found in to aid in the repair of that particular organ or tissue. More recent advances however have learned how to use adult stem cells in a way that allows them to develop the ability to change into other types of cells. Further advances in research have also identified the benefits of adult stem cells from bone marrow and from the blood in the umbilical cord. In addition, newer research has reported the importance of the number of stem cells circulating in the body. The more stem cells you have circulating throughout the body, the more health benefits you receive. Scientists have discovered correlations between conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, kidney failure and other serious chronic diseases and the number of stem cells circulating in the bloodstream. Adult stem cells also have the advantage of being naturally found in your own body which makes it less likely for your immune system to identify it as a foreign invader and attack it or reject it. Therapies using adult stem cells have been used successfully to treat diabetes, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, and leukemia.
With all this newer research showing the advantages that are available from adult stem cells, many people believe they can avoid the controversy around embryonic stem cells and stay with therapies that only involve the use of adult stem cells. Following this plan, it becomes obvious that supporting and increasing the number of adult stem cells in the body is a must. This is especially true because as we age not only do we need more help in repairing damaged cells, we have less stem cells available to us. There are some ways research has shown that we can use to support the strength and number of our own naturally occurring adult stem cells.
Exercise to Boost Your Stem Cells
One of the more recent discoveries is that you can boost the stem cells in your muscles through exercise. This is good news as we age and are prone to losing muscle mass. Marni Boppart, professor of kinesiology and community health, recognizes that exercise is not always a viable option for some due to disabilities and restricted activity, so more research is needed to discover how these stem cells can be used to prevent and restore muscle loss. For those that can engage in exercise, that is the best way to help with age related muscle loss and boost those related stem cells. In addition, exercise helps increase your HGH (human growth hormone) that is important to health and fitness. Another related benefit of exercise is that it has been shown to decrease the age related process that causes our telomeres to become shorter. Telomeres are found at the end of each chromosome and the older we get the shorter they become resulting in health problems and shorter life span. The effect exercise has on the telomeres can actually lead to a longer life.
Nourishment for Your Stem Cells
There are also several things you can do to nourish your stem cells and improve your body’s ability to repair itself. Getting amino acids, such as glutamine, GABA, isoleucine, phenylalanine, arginine, taurine, methionine, valine, lysine, glycine, cysteine, leucine, alanine, and histidine into your diet is important. Glycine, glutamate and cysteine are needed to produce glutathione. Studies are showing that increasing glutathione levels is another way to slow down the process of telomere shortening. This is especially good news for those unable to engage in high intensity exercise programs. Good sources of amino acids are fruits, vegetables, unsaturated oils, and whole grains, and the amino acids needed to produce glutathione in particular are found in whey protein, animal foods, AFA bluegreen algae, and eggs.
Another way to nourish your adult stem cells is through supplementation. Supplementation as a way of supporting adult stem cells has been supported by research such as a study in the Journal of Translational Medicine that reported findings of a nutritional supplement stimulating stem cells. In vitro laboratory studies have shown ingredients found in this stem cell support supplement able to provide nutrition for adult stem cells which they need to be able to reproduce and as having the antioxidant capacity that is known to protect existing stem cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. The amino acids and other superfood nutrition of organic AFA bluegreen algae combined with natural antioxidants such as wild blueberry, green tea, and carnosine provide the powerful nutrition boost behind this supplement.
While research is continuing on stem cells and stem cell therapies and there is still a lot to learn, there are several things research has uncovered as to how stem cells can help slow down or reverse some of the age related damage our bodies’ go through. This is a promising field of research for health and as new research and therapies are revealed there is a lot of hope for dealing with chronic health conditions. We have learned a lot though about how important our adult stem cells are especially as we age. Start taking care of your own natural stem cells and they’ll help you achieve a longer, more healthy life.