Is Regenerative Medicine the New Foundation of Youth?
by Dr. Laura Korman, DC
While aging is inevitable and a normal part of life on this planet, crippling pain and degenerative diseases should not be inevitable. Regenerative medicine is a branch of medicine that works to regenerate and repair cells or tissues damage to restore both their structure and function.
This revolutionary form of healthcare is leading the way in medical advancements to treat many conditions that would otherwise require more invasive or risky solutions. In this article, I want to share what regenerative medicine is, how it's being utilized, and what we can do to enhance our own regenerative capabilities.
When people hear the term regenerative medicine, they often think of stem cells. While stem cells are a significant component of regenerative medicine, they aren't the only contributing factor to jumpstart this healing, reparative and regenerative process.
Stem cells are neutral or undifferentiated cells with the potential to either duplicate themselves or differentiate into a new cell the body needs. Stem cells are the most abundant in newborn babies, with 1/10,000 cells in an infant being a stem cell. These cells continually decline as we age, with only 1/ 2,000,000 cells being a stem cell by the time we are 80. One theory of aging centers around a biological process known as “stem cell exhaustion.”
Regenerative medicine usually involves harvesting mesenchymal stem cells from a patient's own body fat or bone marrow, or from the umbilical cord of a heavily screened healthy newborn at the time of delivery (neither the mother or baby are harmed in this procedure). Conversely, the process of retrieving stem cells from an adult patient involves inherent risks of surgery, and it can be quite painful. Not to mention, the quality and quantity of stem cells will be limited due to the health and age of the patient.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) collected from the Wharton's jelly of the umbilical cord of a newborn baby will contain millions more healthy and viable cells than that of an adult. MSCs are most commonly used in medicine for orthopedic applications in joints, such as the knees, shoulders, hips, hands and feet. However, we also see promise in their ability to help with some autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and Crohn's disease, as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and stroke or traumatic brain injuries.
One of the most exciting developments in the field of regenerative medicine is understanding the crucial role that stem cells play in releasing chemical messengers to communicate with other cells and substances involved in the repair of damaged and inflamed tissues. These extracellular components include cytokines, growth factors, collagen, proteins, hyaluronic acid, and peptides—all of which contribute like a symphony to orchestrate both the healing and regeneration of our bodies.
As we age, our own stem cell numbers naturally decline and slow their function or become exhausted. This is one of the main contributors to unhealthy aging or even death. However, there are several lifestyle strategies that we can practice to activate or stimulate the activity of our own stem cells at any age.
Eat a low inflammatory diet by avoiding sugar, processed carbohydrates, and vegetable or seed oils. Consume fresh and organic (if possible) vegetables and low-glycemic fruits, as well as pasture-raised animal proteins, eggs and dairy. Manage stress and prioritize sleep. A 2018 study found that sleep helps the regenerative capacity of stem cells and tissue regeneration. Maintain regular physical movement. Exercise helps with the activation, mobilization and differentiation of various types of stem cells, as well as tissue regeneration and function.
Consume nutraceuticals with polyphenolic compounds, including resveratrol, quercitin, EGCG (found in green tea) and curcumin (the active component in the spice turmeric). Research has shown that polyphenolic compounds help activate stem cells by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, which activates autophagy (self-cleaning or “eating” of damaged cells) to enhance mitochondria function and promote the migration and differentiation of stem cells.
Practice fasting or work to achieve a state of ketosis (during which most of your energy comes from burning body fat). Fasting stimulates autophagy when the body recycles its own damaged cellular components to make healthier cells. This process of self-renewal is associated with the activation of stem cells.
While stem cell therapy is still being researched, it is not a cure for any disease at this point. However, it has a premise to help the body lower inflammation, regulate the immune system, and regenerate tissue that has been damaged over time. By allowing tissue repair and lowering inflammation, stem cell therapy or regenerative medicine can help patients embrace a healthier, more vibrant aging process with a better quality of life overall.
Dr. Laura Korman is the owner of the Korman Relief and Wellness Center, located at 16954 Toledo Blade Blvd., Port Charlotte. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 941-629-6700 or visit https://www.drlaurakorman.com/