Think of it as preventative medicine via stem cells
Below are five possible simple ways that research suggests theoretically might be helpful to give your existing endogenous stem cells a boost.
Important: consult with your doctor before considering any of these ideas. This post is not meant as medical advice.
The human body seems designed to increase stem cell numbers when we are more active. This makes great sense if you consider that the more active that we are the more new cells that we’ll need as we are likely to lose more of our older cells by exercising. Here are two papers backing up the idea of exercise boosting our stem cell numbers.
- Macaluso, FKH Myburgh (2012) Current evidence that exercise can increase the number of adult stem cells. Journal of muscle research and cell motility.33:3-4:187-98.
- Blackmore, DG, et al. (2009) Exercise increases neural stem cell number in a growth hormone-dependent manner, augmenting the regenerative response in aged mice. Stem Cells. 27:8:2044-52.
2. Caloric restriction and fasting
An article recently came out saying that fasting boosts stem cell numbers. The team from USC found that even just a few days of fasting increased the number of stem cells in our blood system. This potential connection between fasting and stem cell numbers also makes sense as our body probably needs to be more efficient at times of low food availability and boost resistance to infection.
3. Tai chi
Researchers in China have reported that people who practice the martial art Tai Chi saw a several-fold boost in their stem cell populations (by which they meant a specific type of cell called a “Progenitor CD34+Cells” cell. This seems a little too good to be true in terms of magnitude, but could fit in with the exercise boost discussed above.
Although I wrote earlier about how activity could boost stem cell levels, it also kind of makes sense that stem cells may do their thing while we are asleep. Stem cell science also supports this idea as well.
5. Protect yourself and your stem cells from radiation
When you read this you probably are thinking of dental or chest x-rays or CT scans, but I think a far more important source of radiation for most of us is UV light from the sun.
It is smart to protect 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. 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.