Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fasting Promotes Stem Cell Regeneration in Intestines

As people age, we lose the ability to regenerate stem cells successfully in our body. Our organs grow old, and begin to fail. Our metabolism changes, and our body begins to lose muscle mass. Eventually, we reach the point in old age where we cannot function normally and die. To prevent this, scientists and researchers have been pursuing the "secret" to prolonging life for a long time. We want to live longer. We want to live healthier. So how can we? We have been told to eat right, exercise, and develop healthy habits. Medical discoveries have been made that provide us with a longer life compared to previous generations.

But have you been told to just not eat? That fasting was the way to become healthier?

I know, fasting seems like something done during lent or for personal reasons. Trust me, I love a good cheeseburger as much as anybody, and generally scoffed at the idea of fasting to promote health. Granted, I was younger, and mac and cheese was liquid gold that I could never give up. However, there is science backing up the idea that occasional fasting is healthy.

Take our stem cells for example. The role of our stem cells is to create new cells in our body where we need them. Hematopoietic stem cells become new red blood cells (RBCs) to replenish old cells. Tissue-specific stem cells become new cells within our organs. As we grow older, our stem cells slowly lose the ability to proliferate into new cells.

This is where fasting becomes an unexpected hero. Recent research shows that fasting can actually improve the regeneration of stem cells. MIT researchers have completed a study that shows the benefits from a 24 hour fast regarding stem cells. Using mice, they took away food and induced a 24 hour fast. During this time period, the mice began to break down fatty acids instead of food derived glucose. By doing so, the capability of the mouse intestinal stem cells to regenerate and produce new cells nearly doubled compared to stem cells from a non-fasting mouse sample.

The process of deriving energy in the human body is the same among other animals, including mice. The body uptakes food and uses the glucose in the diet and begins to break it down. When we don't eat, our body switches what it uses for energy. With no glucose available, our body turns to fat stored in our body and begins to break them down into fatty acids for energy. This process (lipolysis), according to the research done in this study, actually increases the ability for stem cells to regenerate by introducing stress in the body.

So the prospect of fasting is shown to have health benefits when fasting is done correctly. But even more impressive is the fact that this information can be used in a pharmaceutical environment.

The research team, in order to prove that the mouse stem cells had switched to breaking down fats, isolated messenger RNA from within the cells to look at what genes had been activated. For further clarification, messenger RNA (mRNA) is used within a cell for gene expression by sending a specific code of amino acids to ribosomes in the cell. The mRNA seen in this study indicated that fasting had activated transcription factors named Peroxisome Proliferator-acivated Receptors (PPARs). These transcription factors turn on the genes that switch energy production from the breakdown of glucose to the breakdown of fats. Therefore, the researchers took this experiment one step further and treated the mouse stem cells with a molecular compound named GW501516. This compound activates the PPARs within the cell. As a result, the increased production of intestinal cells from stem cells was also shown just from the introduction of this molecule.

The implications of this research are quite important. Jared Rutter, a biochemistry professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine, stated that "this work fits into a rapidly growing field that is demonstrating that nutrition and metabolism has profound effects on the behavior of cells and this can predispose for human disease." From this study, fasting and drug treatment involving PPARs can increase stem cell proliferation in our intestines. This could be beneficial for us as we grow older, or even cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (which harms our intestinal cells). Maybe give fasting a try, it could help your body out in ways you didn't think were possible

*NOTE: To properly fast, DO NOT just stop eating and call it good. You need to drink plenty of water and only fast for about 24 hours. You could even follow a 16:8 diet where you only consume food for 8 hours a day and fast for 16. Fasting beyond 24 hours could cause your body harm. If you do decide to follow a longer fast than a 24 hour fast, get supervision to ensure that your body remains healthy.*

More information on this research can be found in these two articles:

https://www.sciencealert.com/fasting-for-just-24-hours-boosts-the-regeneration-of-stem-cells-study-finds-intestine-longevity

http://news.mit.edu/2018/fasting-boosts-stem-cells-regenerative-capacity-0503

The research article for this study can be found here:

https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(18)30163-2

Monday, April 23, 2018

Thank You For Your Continuing Support!

A big thank you to everyone who views and enjoys this blog, you all have been a wonderful audience! I do apologize that I took such a long break in between posts, things in my life have been picking up in intensity. I'm nearly done with my second degree in Medical Laboratory Science and am also getting married to the love of my life! More topics and posts will be coming shortly as I will have more time to write in the near future. Again, thank you for your support. It is my privileged to bring these incredible discoveries to light for you to discover yourself.

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
- Carl Sagan

Aliens May Be Trapped On Their Planets

The notion that aliens are real is not new. With the discovery of planets in the Goldilocks Zone around stars, it's looking more likely that habitable planets are a little more common than we originally thought. This brings about the discussion of aliens. Surely, these planets house alien life. If the planets are habitable, shouldn't aliens be populated across the landscape? Maybe even have a space agency of their own? Flying saucers? And if they do exist, why don't we see more evidence out in space?

Could it be because they can't make it off their own planet?

Super-Earth planets, when discovered, are absolutely massive. They exist within the habitual range from their star, yet they can range in size up to 10x the size of Earth. This means that the gravity on those planets would be astronomically larger than our own. The amount of power required to get into space from those planets would be incredibly high. On a Super-Earth, we would need to have a mass of about 440,000 tons due to fuel requirements in order to escape the atmosphere. That's a little more than the weight of the Empire State Building.

"On more-massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive," said study author Michael Hippke, an independent researcher affiliated with the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany. "Civilizations from Super-Earths are much less likely to explore the stars. Instead, they would be to some extent arrested on their home planet and, for example, make more use of lasers or radio telescopes for interstellar communication instead of sending probes or spaceships."


Therefore, it is theorized that these Aliens - if they do exist - might be stuck on their home-world due to the required power to achieve an escape velocity off of their planet. This however takes into consideration what we have, such as our fuel, our materials, and our designs. As of right now, evidence that Aliens exist flying around in space is grim. The only "evidence" that we have is accounts of flying saucers, lights, and shapes in the sky. If Aliens do exist, and they live on Super-Earths, then one of two possibilities may be true.

1). They haven't made it off their planet yet, but have developed other means of transport and communication.

2). They have made it off due to a leap forward in technological advancement and are far more advanced then us.

If the 2nd outcome is true, then we may be in trouble. The Aliens with that technology outclass anything we have, and would just roll over us. That or our government has already made contact with them and isn't telling us anything (that's a whole topic for another day). If the 1st outcome is true, it could explain why we really don't see much of Alien life in space. They can't make it off of their worlds due to an immense gravitational pull down. They don't have the capability to build spacecraft that could propel them into the edges of space. All they can do is broadcast radio waves into space, or rely on some other form of communication.

We as humans are very fortunate to live on a small planet like Earth. We can still put rockets and objects into space without using monolithic spacecraft. We have sent satellites into deep space, past the edge of our solar system. We might be the first species to do something like this if Aliens live on Super-Earths. Who knows, maybe in a couple of hundred years when we have spacecraft capable of interstellar and interplanetary travel, we will be the "Aliens" with crazy "UFOs" that other Alien species see and form conspiracy theories about.

The article written on Super-Earths can be found here:

https://www.space.com/40375-super-earth-exoplanets-hard-aliens-launch.html?utm_source=notification

The paper that Michael Hippke wrote on this topic can be viewed and downloaded here:

https://arxiv.org/abs/1804.04727