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Cellular Health 101

Your guide to all things cells!

The health of our cells is directly related to all parts of our daily life—how we feel internally, mentally…the list goes on. But what does “cellular health” really mean? And how do you even know if your cells need some help?

Think of cells as the building blocks of your life, a microscopic representation of your overall health. At the end of the day, any ailment, disease, or pain you may be dealing with is directly related to your cells, because they make up every organ and function in your body.

Your entire existence depends on your cells (thanks, little friends!) – constantly regenerating and functioning effectively so that you can enjoy everyday activities like pushing your kids on a swing or taking a deep breath of fresh ocean air. 

So yes, cellular health is extremely important! While the concept itself is simple, understanding how it all works and what you can do to monitor it may seem daunting. We’re here to help. 

There’s a scientific reason your hangovers at 30 are quite different than at 21, or why you find yourself grunting while getting out of bed. 

What is cellular function, really? 

Trillions of cells make up the human body, and are not only responsible for accomplishing everything we do, but for maintaining their own health as well. It’s pretty amazing really, what they’re capable of. 

For a human to function in daily life, every cell has to be able to effectively intake nutrients derived from our diet and the oxygen from the air we breathe. Our own actions, and how we take care of our body, directly affect our cellular health. 

That’s not to say it’s entirely on us, or that we’re to blame for our health struggles – simply aging and existing as a human on earth affects the health of our cells (we’ll dive into this more later). It’s simple biology. As you age, your cells continue to divide, over and over and over. This makes them more susceptible to their environment, and overall weaker as they mutate or fail to replicate properly.

Cellular function can be defined as the cell’s ability to receive and utilize their required nutrients and carry out the specific function that each cell is meant to do. Essentially, keeping all of their functions in tact. While doing this, they’re also tasked with maintaining their own structure and local environment. 

Though a cell in the stomach and a cell in the brain may have very different and organ-specific functions, they both undergo similar processes to produce energy, remove waste and maintain their health. Essentially, overall cellular function is indicative of overall wellness.

How do external stressors cause cellular dysfunction?

As mentioned previously, maintaining our cellular health is often linked to how we treat our body. External stress can cause a lot of harm to the cells in our body, from stress and anxiety to running a marathon. 

For example, when we experience anxiety, chemicals called cytokines are produced and released into the bloodstream, increasing inflammation in the body. 

Physical activity is another big one. Working out in the gym isn’t just burning calories–your cells are also burning energy, releasing free radicals and producing what’s known as oxidative stress. This causes an imbalance in your body, and when your antioxidant supply can’t keep up, damage to your cells and other undesirable conditions may arise.

We mentioned the importance of nutrients earlier as well–eating lots of processed foods, consuming alcohol and not getting enough vital nutrients in your diet also increases oxidative stress, further affecting your cells’ ability to bounce back.

Why does aging deteriorate cellular health?

There’s a scientific reason your hangovers at 30 are quite different than at 21, or why you find yourself grunting while getting out of bed. 

One of the main processes involved in aging of our cells is called senescence. This occurs when the cells in the body are no longer able to divide to create new cells, but hang around instead of dying off as they normally should. They tend to affect the other cells around them, causing inflammation and cellular aging. 

As we age, we naturally acquire more and more of these senescent cells, and our immune systems can’t always keep up. In simple terms, this is one reason you’ll notice older people generally struggle more with recovery from illnesses or injury. Interestingly, scientists have only started heavily researching senescent cells within the last 20 years, so there’s tons more to learn – but more on that in a later post.

an up close image of cells and their internal structures, with the cells being green and background white

In addition to the slow down of cell division, the deterioration of cellular tissue itself is also a culprit of declining cellular health. As your cells navigate the long, taxing journey that is life in your body, they can lose mass (their overall strength, or “bulk” for any of you lifters out there) and acquire excess waste buildup. 

Think of it as you would anything else you get tons of use out of in your everyday life; from your favorite sweater to your trusty 20-year-old car. Eventually, the constant stressors in its environment take their toll and it simply doesn’t function like it used to. Proper maintenance is key!

Aging is nothing to be afraid of; we can’t avoid it, and it’s our journey as humans. However it is important to understand what’s going on inside as you age. Overall, poor cellular health is the root cause of many ailments that we, in common terms, chalk up to getting older. Diseases and conditions like arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and more are simply more common as you age, often due to some type of cell stress.  

How can we be proactive with our cellular health?

Our daily routines are constantly in motion and are often subject to change. Almost everything we do has a direct positive or negative effect on the function of our cells. 

Habits such as healthy eating and exercise habits are linked to healthy cellular function. Upping dietary antioxidant, vitamin and mineral consumption is one of the main ways we can support our cellular health. 

We encourage you to simply listen to your body – journaling or even just tracking in your notes app how you feel morning and night is a great way to do this. Writing down your feelings, mental and physical, is known to reduce anxiety and stress! It’s also validating to know that no, you’re not just making it up or overreacting.

Do your best to be in tune with your body, do your research and make small steps everyday to achieve better health. It’s the least you can do for your cells. 

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