Running Out of Gas? The Ultimate Culprit of Aging – Part 2

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted April 15, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

As we age, some of our adult stem cells repair and regenerate cells that have experienced wear and tear, injury, or disease.

They are not involved in normal tissue function, but remain quiescent – a state in which they do not divide, yet retain the ability to proliferate highly specialized cells specific to the organ and tissues where they reside. They are activated when the need arises. The unique ability of adult stem cells to maintain quiescence is crucial for life-long tissue homeostasis and regenerative capacity. 

The activation process of quiescent stem cells is very complex and requires precise reorganization to transition into a proliferative state, and it, unfortunately, declines over time. The consequences of stem cell exhaustion manifest in different ways, depending on the type of stem cell affected.

  • Hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cell (HSC) exhaustion results in anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, a group of blood disorders where stem cells do not mature into healthy blood cells.
  • Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are found in bone marrow. They are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues, such as cartilage, bone and the fat found in bone marrow. When they become exhausted, osteoporosis can set in, as well as decreased fracture repair.
  • Myosatellite cells, or muscle stem cell exhaustion shows up as hindered repair of muscle fibers.
  • Intestinal epithelial stem cells (IESCs) are one of the most rapidly renewing cell populations in the body. When these become exhausted, one might accurately guess that intestinal function will be negatively impacted.

Help is on the horizon

It is estimated that the number of adults older than 65 will reach upwards of 88.5 million by 2050.  With this staggering number in the forefront, it is more important than ever to find therapeutic interventions to improve stem cell function.

As mentioned above, induced pluripotent stem cells are being avidly researched in order to more thoroughly understand the potential they could have on healing. While it is an absolutely promising and likely option to look forward to, it has not been perfected yet.

This brings us to the point, as it has in each blog of this hallmarks of aging series, where we look at what we can do in the meantime. The most promising and recent research illustrates the connection between a fasting-mimicking diet and the body’s ability to regenerate stem cells.

USC researchers found that a fasting-mimicking diet reduced intestinal inflammation and increased intestinal stem cells, in part by promoting the expansion of beneficial gut microbiota. The research team observed that the fasting component allowed the intestines to heal, but that the specific, calorie-restricted diet allowed the microbes in the gut to flourish, which was crucial to the stem cells rebuilding and regenerating.

Valter Longo, the director of the USC Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences says, “This study for the first time combines two worlds of research... The first is about what you should eat every day, and many studies point to a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, and olive oil. The second is fasting and its effects on inflammation, regeneration and aging.”

I too did research concerning weight, aging at the cellular level, and energy.

It's my most prized work yet.

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ