Can You Improve Your Health on a Cellular Level?


How many cells make up your body? It’s actually not all that easy to answer. But recently, scientists have made a pretty good effort. And their final count is…around 37.2 trillion.

Taken together, you are a picture of these cells. Your actions—going to the gym, sleeping eight hours, and mitigating stress—contribute to keeping your cells healthy and, as a result, your body healthy too.

“Cells are literally the building blocks of the complex human beings that we are,” says Renée Deehan, the senior director of science and AI at Insidetracker, a home health test company that launched in 2014. “The whole point of any lifestyle intervention we have—whether that be diet, exercise, recovery, sleep, or stress management—is to increase the function of your cells.”

The term “cellular health” isn’t new. But in the past year, thanks in no small part to billionaire biohackers and health-span-enhancing TikTok trends like intermittent fasting and chugging liquid chlorophyll, it’s come to the forefront. (On the app, #cellularhealth has 9.3 million views and counting.)

This rising interest in keeping our cells healthy has occurred in lockstep with the wellness world shifting its focus to longevity, an industry that’s estimated to be worth $610 billion globally by 2025. Scientists have posited that the first person to live to 200 has already been born, and that type of optimism is only possible thanks to new learnings and innovations around cellular health.

But as the fountain of youth has begun to feel within reach, brands have capitalized on our collective desire to live longer by slapping “cellular health”–promoting language on their labels, even when the science isn’t exactly there to support it.

What is cellular health?

“Your cells are where it all starts—if your cells aren’t functioning properly, the entire system [of your body] can’t function properly, which is why cellular health is really critical,” says Deehan. “Anything we can do to improve our disease profile—another way of saying ‘improve our healthspan’—starts and ends with our cells. As we age, and when we eventually die, it’s a failure of our cells that causes that to happen.”

The health of your cells is characterized by a few different factors, including how effectively they’re producing energy (which, as you may remember from high school biology, comes from the “mighty mitochondria”); their hydration, nutrition, and oxygenation; the integrity of their DNA; and their ability to respond to stress.

The better these functions are, the lower your “biological age” (which, unlike your chronological age—the number of years you’ve been alive—directly correlates to how well your body functions) and the better your overall health span. In other words, a 50-year-old with a solid diet and exercise routine could have a biological age of 45, while someone who’s 45 and stressed out and sedentary may be biologically in their mid-60s.

This is because cellular health is directly correlated with a healthy lifestyle. Things like poor sleep and nutrition, dehydration, excessive stress, and a lack of exercise can all cause cells to age more quickly than the body that houses them, as can inflammation, oxidative stress from the environment, infections, and genetic mutations.


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