The Body Rebuilds Itself Every 1-2 Years

October 9, 2023 4 mins to read
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Have you ever heard the saying “you are what you eat”? Well it’s actually true! The body does rebuild itself every 1-2 years, but this is somewhat of an oversimplification. I highlight this to point out that your body can heal through diet/nutrition and lifestyle changes, because those damaged cells can and will be replaced; especially if you can outpace the oxidative damage and inflammation and address the root causes. So let’s go over some of the different types of cells, and how often they are replaced (lifespans and turnover rates).

  1. Skin Cells: The outer layer of the skin (aka epidermis), renews itself roughly every 2-4 weeks.
  2. Red Blood Cells: These cells have a lifespan of about 120 days before they are replaced.
  3. White Blood Cells: Lifespans vary from hours to years depending on the type. Some B cells can last for years, while many neutrophils (a type of white cell) only live a few hours to a few days.
  4. Liver Cells: Can regenerate rapidly – fully in about 1-2 months, but some individual liver cells might have a lifespan of around 150 days.
  5. Stomach and Intestinal Lining: These cells refresh themselves about every 2-9 days. Now you know why fasting can be so effective to heal digestive issues – it can fully repair most of the damage if you give it a break.
  6. Bone: The human skeleton is dynamic and is constantly broken down and rebuilt. It takes around a decade for the skeleton to be completely replaced, but this is more complicated than a simple cell replacement as bones are made up of a complex matrix composed of minerals and proteins, not just bone cells.
  7. Fat Cells: The number of fat cells tends to remain relatively stable in adults, but individual fat cells live for around 8 years and are then replaced. Now you know one factor in why fat takes more effort to remove…
  8. Cardiac Muscle Cells (Heart): Have a very slow turnover rate. Some studies suggest that we might keep the same heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) our entire lives, with only a small percentage being replaced annually. This is why caring for your heart health is important…it can’t regenerate cells like many other tissues in the body – damage is permanent, barring a complete heart transplant.
  9. Neurons in the Cortex (Brain): Most brain cells are with you for life. Although certain parts of the brain, like the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus, do see neuron turnover, many parts do not significantly regenerate. Just like the heart, caring for brain health is vital, because it can’t regenerate like many other tissues.
  10. Lens Cells (Eyes): These cells don’t regenerate. The lens cells you have in your eyes, you were born with.

Conclusion

While many cells in the body are replaced over a 1-2 year period, not all are. Some regenerate quickly, others very slowly, and some essentially never regenerate. Again this highlights how vital proper nutrition is…give your body the nutrients it needs and it can rebuild and replace much of the damaged cells in a relatively short time. Protect the brain and heart, because they can’t regenerate like many other tissues/organs. And for those with digestive issues, fasting can be very effective because the GIT (Gastrointestinal tract) can in essence fully repair issues within a few days. Lifestyle is equally as important – sleep is the foundation of good sleep and exercise helps the body to operate optimally – just make sure you are getting adequate nutrition.

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