Wellness can be a complicated and intimidating topic, but it really doesn’t have to be. One of my goals is to share inexpensive (and free, when possible!) ways to incorporate wellness into your life. One of the biggest things I’ve learned through hours of education and my own personal journey with health and wellness, is that our minds and bodies are capable of so much more than we think. Our ability to self-heal almost feels limitless. The hard part is learning how to connect that deeply with yourself in a world where we’ve been conditioned to constantly rely on outside sources.
So let’s talk about one major way to boost longevity. BTW, when I say longevity, I’m referring to living a longer (and healthier) life. One of the main ways to do this is by helping our body get rid of “zombie cells,” medically known as senescent cells. These are basically old cells in the body that we want to get rid of by “cleaning out” the body. The goal is to consistently make room for new healthy cells: out with the old, in with the healthy new :) The issue with zombie cells is that a buildup of these cells can actually lead to harmful effects on our tissues, leading to aging. For example, a buildup of these toxic cells can lead to chronic inflammation over time, which, if not tended to, will set off a positive feedback loop where more inflammation is created (to get science-y: cytokines activate leukocytes which sets off further production of cytokines). Thus it’s important to eliminate these cells to prevent age-related diseases, inflammation, and in the worst case, cancer growth.
So… what can we do to help? Read below for two of the top ways we can help rid our bodies of these cells. Oh, and both tips are free :) :
- Intermittent fasting: There are two mechanisms by which fasting can benefit you…
- Clearing out: When you fast for a period of time, the body is starved of sugar, which these zombie cells can’t survive without (this is also why many people believe you can have bulletproof coffee (with MCT oil or ghee) while in the fasting hours, because it’s pure fat, no sugar / carbs or protein for these cells to feed on or that spike insulin). Animal models have shown that intermittent fasting can promote autophagy, which is the process of a healthy cell literally eating older toxic cells. It’s basically the body’s way of clearing out damaged cells and going into maintenance mode. When it’s not bogged down by constant digestion, the body is able to just focus on full repair!
- Prevention: Research shows that intermittent fasting has been known to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which cause cell damage. Fasting may prevent you from accumulating extra zombie cells.
- Cold exposure (e.g., cold showers, ice baths or cryotherapy when available). It seems like everyday I’m learning more and more benefits of cold exposure. Some wellness hacks are overrated, but not this one! Here are some of my favorite benefits of cold therapy… and of course, I will discuss just how they rid the body of zombie cells.
- Adapting to stress. Cold exposure trains the body to adapt to stressful situations by stimulating the endocannabinoid system.
- Recovery. Cold exposure reduces inflammation which enhances recovery. For example, a study showed that elite runners who engaged in whole body cryotherapy for 3 min at 166°F ( −110°C) both 1 hour and 24 hours post-exercise enhanced muscle recovery, marked by reduced inflammatory processes and increased antiinflammatory processes at both time points.
- Boost in oxygenated blood circulation. When you go into a “dangerous” situation, like sub zero temperatures, your body goes into survival mode. So all the blood gets rushed to your vital organs, including your heart. This is why when going into a cryotherapy chamber they have you wear mittens and socks. Your extremities don’t get as much blood flow and they will get too cold! Now, when you’re out, all that blood will rush back throughout your body. So basically you’re getting a boost of oxygen-rich circulation. To me, this explains that immediate invigoration I feel right after cryotherapy!
- Rids the body of senescent cells. Exposure to cold can actually activate antioxidant enzymes, more powerful than supplemental antioxidants. For example, young men exposed to cryotherapy for 3 minutes at 202°F (−130°C) everyday for 20 days doubled the activity of one of the most potent antioxidant enzyme systems in the body called glutathione reductase. Antioxidant activity both prevents cell damage as well as repairs damage that has already been done.
There is also emerging research that suggests certain drugs can slow or prevent cellular senescence but, as with all drugs, there are going to be side effects. Moral of the story: we can’t be perfect, but if there are free and easy to incorporate techniques (like the ones listed above) why not incorporate them into your routines? I personally can’t think of a more valuable use of my time and effort than physical and mental health 💗