Cell science is revolutionizing our
understanding of health & wellness

Today, with advanced technology and the ability to see within the body–and even within cells themselves–we are able to follow how nutrients really function. More importantly, this new insight helps us to understand why having too little of these important dietary nutrients can lead to low energy levels, poor sleep patterns, early aging, and even disease.

What are cells?

Cells are the smallest living functional units of your body – the building blocks of all your tissues and organs. Each cell is at least somewhat self-contained and self-maintaining: it can take in nutrients, convert these nutrients into energy, carry out specialized functions, and reproduce as necessary.

If your cells function poorly, then your tissues and organs will become compromised, and your health will deteriorate. Healthy cells make bodies healthy.

Why are cells important?

Today, with advanced technology and the ability to see within the body–and even within cells themselves–we are able to follow how nutrients really function. More importantly, this new insight helps us to understand why having too little of these important dietary nutrients can lead to low energy levels, poor sleep patterns, early aging, and even disease.

Two of the most important roles cells play are: (1) providing energy for everything you do, and (2) safeguarding your DNA. Your DNA is stored within your cell in the nucleus, and your cell has many ways to keep it safe; however, research has shown that poor nutrition and exposure to environmental toxins can cause your DNA to become damaged.

This damage (called a mutation) can affect the ability of your cells to produce energy, can cause your cells to die early resulting in compromised tissue or inflammation, and can even show up years later as cancer.

Cell Lifecycle

The average adult has around 100 trillion cells in his or her body, and every day billions of these cells die. New cells are replicated daily from existing ones to replace the dying, worn out or damaged cells. In fact, every seven years, nearly all of your cells will have been replaced, which means your current self will share almost no physical matter with your future self. This fact underscores the importance of keeping your cells healthy now, to keep future generations of cells healthy. Nutrition plays an important role in sustaining your cellular and overall health because nutrients provide the raw materials for the creation of new cells.

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Diet Impacts Cell Function

The power of healing foods, vis-a-vis phytonutrients, lies within a food’s broad-based ability to prevent disease by nutritionally fortifying the biochemical processes that have been naturally selected by evolution to protect us from disease and aging.

However, even with a dramatic change in diet, supplements containing concentrated forms of nutrients (usually from food sources) are needed to overcome the damaging effects of micronutrient deficiencies, pollution, radiation, and internally-generated free radicals. Since vitamins and minerals are required as cofactors for metabolic enzymes (they are essential for the enzyme to carry out its function), micronutrient deficiencies can cause profound alterations in normal cellular function. Nutraceutical supplements can also enhance DNA repair capability, a primary factor in the prevention of most diseases caused by DNA damage.

Micronutrient Deficiency and DNA Damage

Approximately forty micronutrients are essential for normal metabolism. According to Dr. Bruce Ames, “micronutrient deficiency can mimic radiation (or chemicals) in damaging DNA by causing single- and double-strand breaks, oxidative lesions, or both,” which in turn are the root causes of most diseases. The table below lists the most prevalent vitamin and mineral deficiencies, food sources for these vitamins and minerals, and the kind of DNA damage that occurs when they are deficient.

In addition to preventing or correcting DNA damage, other micronutrients are needed to activate enzymes involved in important metabolic pathways that are derailed in the aging process. Yet most multivitamin supplements, even those labeled as “anti-aging,” are missing many of these key micronutrients.

MicronutrientFood Sources% of People DeficientAnti-Aging Daily IntakeDNA Damage from DeficiencyConditions Stemming from Deficiency
Folic acidDark green veggies10%400-1000 mcgChromosome breaks, base substitution
Required for cytosine and thymidine synthesis
Colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, brain dysfunction, birth defects
Vitamin B12Meat4% get less than half the RDI400-600 mcgSame as folic acid
Required for all four bases
Nerve damage, breast cancer, plus same as folic acid
VitaminB6Whole-grain bread, cereals10% get less than half the RDI50-100 mgSame as folic acid
Required for thymidine synthesis
Same as folic acid and B12
Vitamin CFruits, vegetables, liver15% get less than half the RDI750-1000 mg Free radical (DNA oxidation) damage is similar to radiationCataract risk increased 4 times, cancer, cardiovascular disease
Vitamin ENuts, vegetable oils20% get less than half the RDI 200-800 IURadiation mimic (DNA oxidation), damage is similar to radiationCancer: colon (2X), cardiovascular disease (1.5 X), immune dysfunction
IronMeat, fortified cereals7% get less than half the RDI9-18 mg DNA breaks, radiation mimicBrain dysfunction, immune dysfunction, cancer
ZincMeat, whole grains18% get less than half the RDI10-25 mg Chromosome breaks, radiation mimicBrain dysfunction, immune dysfunction, cancer
NiacinMeat, legumes2% get less than half the RDI100-500 mgDisables DNA repair enzymes (polyADP-ribose)Neurological symptoms, memory loss

Note: 1 percent of the U.S. population = 2.7 million people in 1998. For percentages of the population listed for each micronutrient, with the exception of folic acid, intakes were less than half the recommended daily intake (RDI). Additional micronutrient deficiencies will likely be recognized as time passes.

Source: Adapted from Ames, B. Toxicology Letters 1998; /Vol.102- 103:5- 18.

RDI Levels and Cellular Benefits

The Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, has established panels of experts to review micronutrient requirements. The panel reviews volumes of scientific evidence before making its recommendations on dietary intakes.2 The recommendations known as RDIs, which are familiar to you from reading the nutritional fact panels on foods and supplements, are given as a guideline for healthy people and are not necessarily absolute. Recently, the expert panels have began establishing optimum levels and upper limits for micronutrients.

However, these are still based on the average healthy person eating an adequate diet and do not necessarily allow for anti-aging benefits. In fact, it has been established only recently within the scientific community that diet alone may not supply all the micronutrients needed to maintain good health. Pairing an improved diet with phytonutrients is where a supplement like healthycell™ fits into your daily regimen.

References

1 “Fruits and Veggies, More Matters. What are phytochemicals?”. Produce for Better Health Foundation. 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.

2 Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies

Key Terms

Nutraceutical

A term that was coined in the late 1980s by Stephen De Felice, M.D., to describe chemicals in foods that have medicinal power.

Phytonutrient

A word used to describe nutrient compounds sourced from plants.

bruce-ames

Metabolic harmony requires an optimum intake of each micronutrient: deficiency distorts metabolism in numerous and complicated ways, many of which may lead to DNA damage

– Bruce Ames, Ph.D., Dept. of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley

Biorhythm

Healthy, functioning cells are always working to keep the air moving to your lungs and the blood pumping throughout your body. They are constantly activating the genes that allow your body’s mechanisms to kick in.

With all of these complex functions carried out by your cells, your body could become a mess pretty quickly. Luckily, there’s something coordinating all of your systems so the cells in your big toes work in harmony with the cells in your legs, heart, and beyond. That coordinator is your body’s biorhythm, the master timekeeper that sets the pace for all the action in your body.

Here’s how your biorhythm works: your body has a master rhythm that resides over every cell, tissue, and organ in your body. The brains of that operation is a group of neurons that looks at whether it’s light or dark outside and then sets your body’s clock to match where you are in the 24-hour cycle. Once the neurons set this rhythm, they monitor all the tissues in the body to make sure each sticks to the schedule for sleep, feeding, and beyond. Believe it or not, there’s also a clock in each of your 100 trillion cells. How do these trillions of clocks stay in-sync? You’ve got your tissues and organs to thank for that. Each tissue and organ coordinates the rhythms of its cells so that the specialized tasks we need to function are completed on deadline. When these secondary rhythms set by your tissues and organs are in-sync with your body’s big clock, you’re a healthy, well-oiled machine. When the rhythm breaks down, you begin to experience health issues and premature aging.

Orchestra Analogy

Think of your body’s main rhythm as the conductor of a symphony orchestra. The conductor knows the tubas, snare drums, clarinets, and violins all play different parts. His job is to make sure all these parts come together to create a perfectly executed song for the adoring crowd. If the players are having good nights, the lines and measures are executed without a hitch. But if that clarinet player is distracted and starts hitting wrong notes left and right, it’s up to the conductor to try to get him back on track. A strong conductor will return the orchestra to harmony. If the conductor breaks down, so does the entire group.

Why is Biorhythm so Important?

That internal clock is our body’s way of adapting to changes in our environment. When your body settles into a good rhythm, you wake up every morning fully rested, get through your day with energy intact, and have time for quality meals and exercise. You’re calm and at ease, and aren’t plagued with any major health issues. But more often times than not, our lifestyles don’t take our body’s advice. We go to sleep too late, eat huge meals when we should be resting, and fit in exercise just as our bodies are trying to wind down for the night. Then, we expect our cells to deal with it.

But when your clock gets thrown off, it can take a major toll on your trillions of tiny workers. With no clear clock to guide them, cells lose track of their workflow and scramble around trying to make up for that lost time. If those cells get damaged, they can throw off the function of the other cells in their tissue. Here’s the takeaway: our cells rely on a strong biorhythm to stay healthy, and our biorhythm relies on healthy cells to stay in time. We’ve got to nurture this relationship.

A smooth biorhythm makes your cells function optimally. Your main clock knows when to turn “on” genes that help your cells function, and in turn, your healthy cells can keep your biorhythms in synch. Unhealthy cells signal that more biorhythm problems are on the way. And because your main rhythm uses your sleep-wake cycle to set the pace for your body’s activity, a lot of health issues arise from not sleeping when your body wants you to sleep. Over time, a disrupted sleep-wake cycle can increase the chance of Alzheimer’s. Dementia can set in if your body’s clocks are out of rhythm across multiple systems. Constant travel through different time zones can keep your cells from finding their groove, and this confusion increases your risk for cancer and other diseases. Conditions like metabolic syndrome and obesity can become your reality if your meal cycle doesn’t follow your body’s sleep cycle.

One of the keys to staying healthy is giving your cells what they need, when they need it; that’s why the best nutrition plans have two parts–one for the day and one for the night. It’s time to get your diet, exercise, meditation, and sleep synchronized so that you can achieve your healthiest rhythm yet.

Stress Impacts Cell Function

Stress is a state of mental strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. It can affect the physical body too, even at the microscopic level of the cell. While certain types of stress are required for survival, allowing us to respond to danger or defend against infections, most stress is harmful to our health. 

The various sources of stress at the cellular level are more numerous today than at any point in history. Our bodies, and therefore our cells, are bombarded by stressors from our daily environments, including psychological sources such as time urgency and performance anxiety, technological sources like radiation and electro-magnetic frequencies, and diet sources like pesticides and other chemicals in our food and water. It is not possible to live completely free of these stressors in the 21st Century. However, it isimpossible to lower your stress levels through lifestyle changes and to mount a defense against stressors by maintaining healthy cells.

Your body contains trillions of cells, each one a microcosm of molecules vibrating with a specific frequency of energy. They interact, constantly exchanging energy to drive cellular metabolism. When you are healthy, the energy transfer is smooth and harmonious, but stress can disturb this process.

Cell Membranes and Receptors

Stress produces high levels of free radicals (highly charged energy particles) as your cellular mitochondria (“power plants” of the cell) ramp up production of energy to support the molecules involved in the stress response. These free radicals crash into the oily, flexible membranes that cover the cell and its internal structures. Just as the molecules within your cells vibrate with energy, so do the membrane’s embedded proteins. These proteins function as communication devices between cells, and when free radicals crash into the cell membrane, it impedes the cell’s ability to communicate.

Receptors and Their Ligands

Receptors located on the cell membrane hover in position with an “arm” that extends into the fluid between cells, waiting for the appropriate chemical to drift past. These receptors function as sensory devices that can scan for the specific molecule needed to energize the cell. Receptors are specific for one particular chemical, and they contain tiny keyholes that fit the exact shape of the molecule they are seeking. The chemicals that the receptors lock onto are known as ligands, and they can be vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and many other types of cell nutrients. If your body is not well nourished with the nutrients cells require, is cannot neutralize the massive numbers of free radicals produced during high stress periods, which can lead to DNA damage.

Peptides

Ninety-five percent of ligands are peptides. Peptides are involved in regulating nearly all of life’s processes. Peptide release in the brain is affected by behavior, and brain peptides in turn regulate immune function. Most importantly, the exchange of information is bidirectional, so what you are thinking and feeling has a real impact on your cells, and therefore your health.

Hormones, Cortisol, and Aging

Stress activates a part of the brain known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, causing it to release peptides including CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor). CRF stimulates the adrenal-activating peptide ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) to release the hormones cortisol and glucogen. Cortisol affects every cell of your body and your central nervous system, activating protective defense mechanisms. However, persistent elevation of cortisol disrupts homeostasis by interfering with hormone, immune, brain, and nerve function. As we age, our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol has been dubbed the age-accelerating hormone because it is directly related to many factors in aging:

  • Breakdown of the collagen and elastic tissues that keep your skin, joints and muscles youthful
  • Wrinkles, acne, and other unsightly skin issues
  • Damage to your nervous system
  • Memory loss and decreased cognitive function
  • Increased risk for infectious diseases due to a weakened immune system
  • Fat metabolism disorders and sugar cravings that threaten your youthful physique

When you are stressed, your body is flooded with even more free radicals than usual. Your cells do not have as much energy for fighting, and the unfortunate result is DNA damage that turns your cells from healthy to damaged and toxic.

The Stress Solution – Lifestyle and Nutrition

Lower your stress levels through lifestyle changes and mount a defense against stressors by maintaining healthy cells with the nutrients they need to function optimally. Proven stress-reducing lifestyle changes include meditative practices like yoga and exercise. Nutrient supplementation with plant-based compounds helps provide elements that are lacking in most 21st century diets.

Key Terms

Cortisol

A hormone that has been dubbed the age-accelerating hormone because it is directly related to many factors in aging.

dr-hans-selye

Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.

– Hans Selye, M.D.,

Exercise Impacts Your Cells

An integral part of cell health is fitness. For the exerciser accustomed to spending hours counting calories at the gym, a shorter workout may sound like a copout. But when you exercise for more than 40 minutes continuously, it actually hurts you more than it helps you. By stressing out your body’s cells, you’re triggering cortisol, causing inflammation, and flooding your system with free radicals, the negative consequences of your prolonged stress. Meanwhile, your body has no rest period to help cells recuperate.

The exercise solution: HIIT It

When it comes to exercise, cells crave quality over quantity. Meet High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), also known as “cycles or bursts.” Here’s how it works: rather than 30 minutes of cardio, perform aerobic exercise at a very high intensity from 30 seconds to a few minutes, and then give your body a one to five minute recovery period of low- to no-intensity exercise. Repeat this a few times.

Let’s zoom in and look at exercise from the cell level in order to understand the critical differences between HIIT and the traditional approach. When we get moving, our blood hits our arteries and triggers a little spurt of nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels. Then, stress-fighting genes kick in to help your cells recover and fight free radicals. That’s a good reaction. But a funny thing happens when you push your body to the brink with endurance exercise: if you exercise continually for an extended period of time, your body generates nitric oxide in a different pathway. This causes the opposite effect on your blood vessels, which tense up and stiffen. Then comes the inflammation and the continual onslaught of stress and toxicity. Your body is trying to tell you it needs to relax, but you’re not listening.

HIIT gives you all the strength, weight loss, and heart-health benefits of endurance exercise. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, it also improves your circulation and reduces your insulin. But the added bonus with the interval approach is that unlike endurance exercise, the stop-and-go element trains your relaxation response. The stronger your relaxation response, the better you’ll be able to recover when a real “fight or flight” situation occurs. Think of those pauses between cardio as taking a moment to give your cells what they need. Your whole body will thank you.

How does HIIT tie back into cell aging? It’s simple. By giving your body those rest periods, you’re helping the relaxation response genes kick in when you need them most. Your genes are working in your favor, and your cells are healthier because of it. Those other perks—fat loss, cardiovascular health, and beyond—are just the icing on cake.

Your resistance training should follow the same “quality over quantity” mentality. Rather than perform more sets with fewer repetitions in each, push yourself to do more reps in each set, even if that means less sets overall. The higher intensity will increase your muscle mass more than the lower intensity routine, and will also boost your bones’ ability to take in key minerals. Just remember to give your muscles a little break between each set so that relaxation genes can play their part.

Resistance training should be an important part of your healthy exercise routine as it has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and also helps keep your insulin tolerance under control, but that’s just the beginning. In addition, weight training can improve osteoporosis, strengthen your balance, and ensure your ankles, feet, and knees stay in top shape.

An intelligent exercise program to improve cell health and overall body health involves three basic parts:

  1. Stretching—improves flexibility and balance, reduces injury, relieves pain
  2. Aerobic exercise—including warm-up, increases heart rate and lung capacity, begins releasing cell health hormones and neurotransmitters
  3. Anaerobic exercise—builds strength and releases key cell health hormones: insulin, glucagon, human growth hormone (HGH), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and testosterone

With the right combination of cell health exercises, you’ll look and feel healthier than ever before. Consult with your doctor before you try any new exercise routine.

Exercise, Mood, and Behavior

People who exercise feel better and perform better regardless of age or occupation. That’s because exercise releases feel-good neurotransmitters, epinephrine and norepinephrine, plus painkilling endorphins. At the same time, exercise lowers the stress hormone cortisol. These changes lead to improved memory, better concentration, and a more positive outlook on life. And there’s always the bonus of improved body image.

This might seem unimportant within the context of cell health and anti-aging, but it’s extremely important to people of all ages. A group of 49 college women were enrolled in a strength-training class that met twice a week. The women were evaluated before beginning the class and again at the end of 12 weeks. Body weight and fat mass changed very little, but maximal lifting ability increased from 5 to 11 pounds. The women reported that they felt healthier, more fit, and had a better body shape and self-image.

Human data show that “executive functions” processed in the frontal lobe and brain hippocampus may be selectively maintained or even enhanced with higher levels of fitness. Recent evidence suggests that neuron development at least in the hippocampus may be increased by exercise. Nonneuronal tissues in the brain also seem to respond to exercise and learning stimulation. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, causing release of nitric oxide, a powerful brain stimulant.

Key Terms

Nitric Oxide

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a gas that’s naturally produced in the body; it’s used to communicate between cells.

Inflammation

A process by which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect us from injury and from infection with foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system–the immune system–triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign substances to fight off.

Free Radicals

Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons. In their quest to find another electron, they are very reactive and cause damage to surrounding molecules. This disrupts normal cellular processes, wreaking havoc. Free radicals come from the environment, smoking, and various toxins we ingest, including medications. However, most are produced within your own cells as a normal by-product of converting food into energy.

Insulin

A hormone produced in the pancreas by the islets of Langerhans (where hormone-producing cells come from) that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.

Stem cells

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide (through mitosis) to produce more stem cells. In other words, they have no specific chosen function until further directed. Stem cells act as your body’s reserve, replacing cells that become damaged and cells that die. Stem cells need the proper nutrition to stay healthy, just as body cells do.

DNA Damage, Aging, and Disease - Dr. Vincent Giampapa, MD, FACS

Intervening in Cell Aging with Micronutrients - Dr. Vincent Giampapa, MD, FACS

Key Cell Aging Ratios

Processes That Cause Cellular Aging - Dr. Vincent Giampapa, MD, FACS

The Cell Aging Continuum (from healthy through the stages of cellular decline)

Cellular Bystander Effect

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