I often wish scientists would hire a “normie” to be part of their team. You know, an average guy or gal who can make sure their research and discoveries aren’t so darn difficult for the rest of us to understand.
One of the first things I think this Average Joe should take control of is naming things. Take “senescent cells,” for example. It’s hard to say, let alone grasp what the heck it means.
Yet, it’s vital we understand these cells and how they work. Because they’re at the very heart of what causes us to age. In fact, their buildup in tissues throughout the body IS essentially aging in a nutshell.
Bad attitude cells spell trouble
Typically, cells divide over and over again to make fresh new cells. Once they’ve lived out their usefulness, they die. On the other hand, senescent cells are stressed-out oldsters that have stopped dividing to make new cells.
As you age, more and more of your cells become senescent, and they start accumulating in the tissues throughout your body. Now, while that certainly doesn’t sound ideal, it might not be so bad on its own. But unfortunately, these cells ALSO have a bad attitude.
They’re highly inflammatory and release harmful molecules that contribute to those diseases of aging we’re all fighting so hard to avoid and overcome, including osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, Parkinson’s, and more.
Even worse, these suckers simply REFUSE to die like normal cells. Instead, these zombie cells spread their bad attitude around basically “infecting” other surrounding healthy cells, almost like an aging virus.
And although senescent cells are too darn stubborn to die, those normal cells they “infect” aren’t. In fact, the damaging molecules the senescent cells spew out literally cause diseases by promoting inflammation and disrupting the environment around the cell.
This brings us to two recent studies that could help us learn how to overcome the ravages of aging.
Target “zombie” cells to fight disease
In the first, researchers at the University of California uncovered how immune cells naturally clear the body of senescent cells.
In this animal study, the researchers did something rare. They set out in search of an alternative to drugs. (I know, SHOCKING.) Instead of meds, they stimulated the rodent’s iNKT cells, a natural part of the immune system.
The goal was to make the critter’s inborn surveillance system perk up and remove the stubborn senescent cells on its own—and it worked. The mice with diet-induced obesity had significant improvements in their blood glucose levels. And another group of mice with lung fibrosis had measurably fewer damaged cells. No drugs required.
In the second study researchers found the same cellular senescence could be contributing to the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve all seen the terrible toll COVID-19 takes on seniors and the chronically ill. Well, this study exposes one reason why.
The team found that inflammation shoots through the roof in these “zombie” cells when they’re introduced to the virus. Plus, the senescent cells caused healthy cells to become more susceptible to the infection AND hampered their natural anti-viral defense system.
But using senolytic drugs that target these zombie cells, the scientists were able to slash the death rate by an incredible 50 percent in older mice infected with a coronavirus that’s closely related to SARS-CoV-2.
Natural senolytics SLOW aging
So what’s all this got to do with the diseases that plague us in our senior years?
Well, this cutting-edge research gives us a hint of what we could do to try to slow cellular aging at the source from the comfort of our own homes. And that’s to use NATURAL senolytics to take down those zombie cells.
That, in turn, could help us reduce our risks for many of the so-called diseases of aging. And lucky for us, we ALREADY have some idea of what might work.
Certain compounds found in plants called flavonoids are proven natural senolytics. That means they could potentially be used to help extend health and lifespan…
- Fisetin, which is found in strawberries, apples, cucumbers, and onions… and sold as a supplement… is effective against zombie cells (including in the COVID-19 study above).
- Quercetin found in green tea, apples, onions, berries, citrus, grapes, red wine, and supplements has been effective against senescent cells in lab and animal studies as well. (Quercetin can help you tame blood pressure too, learn how here.)
More research is needed, of course. But what scientists have already uncovered is exciting enough to consider targeting our own “zombie cells” at home. You can start by eating more foods rich in these two natural senolytics. Plus, you may want to consider taking a supplement too.
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