Killing Zombies to Fight Aging: The Undead Senescent Cells in Your Body
Zombies. The terrifying undead are the things of nightmares and Hollywood blockbusters. But what’s more terrifying are the zombie cells we live with every day. These cellular zombies cause cancer and degenerative harm to our brains and bodies.
What are Zombie Cells?
Aging is a highly complex biological process characterized by the gradual deterioration of cognitive, physical and cellular functions.
One of the hallmarks of aging is the accumulation of senescent cells, which are cells that have lost their ability to divide and function properly but haven’t completely died. This undead state has earned these cells the moniker “zombie cells.”
Instead of contributing to tissue repair, senescent cells secrete a cocktail of harmful molecules, leading to inflammation, tissue dysfunction and a weakened immune system. This cellular havoc contributes to various age-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders.
Can We Reduce Our Senescent Cells?
The lower our senescent cell count, the better our bodies are able to fight disease and the longer we can enjoy our cognitive and physical faculties. Fortunately, lowering your senescent cell count isn’t impossible, but it does require intervention.
Enter hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, a treatment that involves breathing 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
HBOT is well-established for its ability to enhance wound healing and treat conditions like carbon monoxide poisoning. However, recent research has uncovered its potential as a powerful anti-aging tool. The key lies in HBOT’s capacity to reduce senescent cell count through a process known as cellular senescence clearance.
HBOT works by increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to our bodies’ tissues, including those tissues that harbor senescent cells. Senescent cells are often resistant to apoptosis, a natural process of programmed cell death. When exposed to high levels of oxygen under pressure, these stubborn cells become more vulnerable, making them more likely to undergo apoptosis. This phenomenon is akin to shining a spotlight on these cellular troublemakers, rendering them susceptible to elimination.
Research on HBOT and Senescence
A groundbreaking study published in the journal Aging demonstrated the potential of HBOT in reducing senescent cell burden. In this study, researchers subjected elderly mice to HBOT and observed remarkable improvements in their physical and cognitive function. Not only did the therapy reduce the number of senescent cells in the mice, but it also had a positive impact on tissue regeneration and overall health.
By eliminating senescent cells, HBOT holds the potential to mitigate inflammation, reduce the risk of diseases, and extend healthy lifespan.
Since this groundbreaking research was published, the field of hyperbaric medicine has continued advancing by pinpointing the most effective administration of oxygen and pressure to reduce senescent cells and improve quality of life.
A 2020 randomized controlled clinical trial used a unique hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocol to enhance cognitive function in healthy aging adults. Significant improvements were observed in cerebral blood flow and three primary cognitive domains: attention, information processing speed and executive function, all of which typically decline as we age.
Research suggests that HBOT may also enhance cognitive abilities by promoting neurogenesis (the formation of new cells in the brain and nervous system) and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.
More Age-Related Benefits of HBOT
In addition to the clearance of senescent zombie cells, HBOT offers several other health benefits that are especially attractive to the aging population. One of these is improved tissue regeneration. As we age, our body’s ability to repair and regenerate tissues diminishes.
HBOT can help stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, promote the release of stem cells and enhance the production of collagen, all of which contribute to tissue rejuvenation. The results are increased energy, improved stamina and enhanced athletic performance.
Fighting Back Against Aging
Although it’s “spooky season,” zombie cells don’t have to be scary, and neither does aging when you have the tools to fight back against it. The Aviv Medical Program combines a number of clinically-backed therapies that can help reduce cellular senescence, and can include physiotherapy, cognitive training, dietary coaching, and a unique hyperbaric oxygen protocol.
Contact us for a complimentary physician consultation to learn if the Aviv Medical Program is right for you.