The stem cells in your body are invaluable to your health. Degenerative diseases and aging are both manifestations of decreased numbers of stem cells, stem cell performance, and how many are circulating through your bloodstream. Why? Because the stem cells in our blood (EPCs) are responsible for repairing our blood vessels and veins. Without them, our circulatory system starts to wither, our injuries take longer to heal, and our health declines.
Circulating Stem Cells are the tools our bodies use to repair damaged tissue and to keep us healthy. Aging, genetics, and poor lifestyle choices decrease our number of Circulating Stem Cells. You can’t stop aging, and you can’t help genetics, but you can improve both areas by taking action with what you can change: your lifestyle choices.
Taking up a physically active lifestyle results in markedly improved and biologically “younger” vascular lining—it won’t turn back time, but if you’ve ever had a fitness instructor, coach, or PE teacher tell you that an exercise “gets your blood moving” they were right: a sedentary lifestyle slows down our blood and decreases our circulating stem cells, making our blood and our bodies sluggish.
Even without the time it takes to join a fitness class, get up early for yoga, or take weekend hikes, exercise can still be peppered throughout your daily routines. If you must be at a desk, alternate between standing and sitting, or use an exercise ball as a chair.
You are what you eat, so the saying goes, and it’s certainly true that what you take into your body affects and changes it. For stem cell health, the most important categories are high protein and low blood pressure—protein to build muscle and tissue, and low blood pressure so that your blood can flow smoothly to keep your healthy tissue alive and growing. So what should you eat to help circulation?
Protein doesn’t just come from meat, and outside of lean meats and lean cuts, a lot of meat comes with extra fat. A low carbohydrate and high protein diet can be snuck into the meals you already enjoy: replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower (while still keeping all your extra seasonings); instead of pasta or rice, sub in beans or tofu or quinoa; and as for salt? Lose as much salt as you can!
As always with healthy eating, vegetables are important, and green leafy vegetables in particular have been shown to increase the amount of circulating stem cell you have in your body. Replacing carbs with protein and vegetables builds you up, and lower salt intake helps with lower blood pressure, which keeps you running lean.
Drink Well Too
The cartoon of the red-faced drunk exists for a reason: alcohol elevates your blood pressure to the point where, with excessive use and abuse, the capillaries on the face burst. That is visible damage to the circulatory system that can be caused by drinking, let alone all the damage that remains unseen. But it’s not just alcoholic drinks that can hurt our bodies, there are excessive amounts of sugar and corn syrup in a lot of our beverages, and too much sugar elevates our blood pressure (the ‘sugar rush’ is a cute name for a physical response) and endangers our health (can cause obesity and contribute to developing Type II Diabetes).
Instead of milkshakes, drink fruit and vegetable juices; instead of sodas, switch to tea; every replacement isn’t a treat lost, it’s a smart trick earned and learned for preserving your health.
If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you might have noticed the air feels thinner further up. In a way, it is: there is less oxygen at higher elevations, and the less oxygen you breathe, the less you can put to use, and this puts a damper on your amount of circulating stem cells. It’s known as “chronic mountain sickness”—living too high above sea level increases blood pressure, and makes the lungs work much harder for much less vital oxygen.
Likewise the air pressure required to keep people breathing on planes brings dangers to blood pressure, to ear pressure, to the amount of oxygen needed to keep you at your best. The longer you breathe thin or recycled air, the more it stresses your body, and you need circulating stem cells to help heal those damages.
It may not be practical to move closer to sea level, or to travel without spending a lot of time in airplanes, but there are ways to replace that oxygen, revitalize your body—oxygen tanks are for everyone who needs more oxygen than they’re getting.
The value in circulation, and in the stem cells that keep it healthy, is to get oxygen to all reaches of your body. If you’re smoking, you’re not breathing enough oxygen in the first place, and all the improvements made to your blood flow won’t matter much if you’re poisoning the air you take in.
We all know smoking causes health problems, but it’s not just from the dangerous ingredients in mass-produced cigarettes—the cancer-causing chemicals, toxic metals and poisonous gases—just the smoke itself is doing damage to your lungs, blackening what was once pink and healthy, and essentially replacing oxygen with soot. Quitting altogether will increase your life-expectancy and the quality of the life you keep, and the increase in circulating stem cells will help clean up the hurt done to the lungs from smoke.
To needle someone you know means you’re irritating them, but if you needle your skin and irritate your healing mechanisms, you gain increased circulation.
If you can’t deal with needles at all, skip this suggestion, but if you can, then consider what acupuncture does from a medical standpoint. Originating as a traditional Chinese method for balancing spiritual energy, acupuncture also stimulates your body’s natural painkillers and blood flow. Not only can it help relieve pain (from mild to severe, occasional to chronic), it draws your blood and your reparative cells to the surface, and forms new pathways for healing.
There are endless ways to improve your blood flow, blood health, and the reparative stem cells contained within your circulation.