Storing stem cells and proper nutrition ‘secure your baby’s health’

Deciding to bank your child's stem cells is a personal decision just like any other decision you make on their behalf

Racha Adib
Racha Adib - Special to Al Arabiya English
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If you're expecting a baby, then you’re probably going to be spending hours searching for the best pediatrician to take care of your child. After that, you’ll probably do an in-depth research about the right nutrition for your child’s first 12 months of life all before your baby is even born. Along with the many other ways you can hope to make life safer for your child, you probably would be thinking about the option of storing you baby’s stem cells.

Deciding to bank your child's stem cells is a personal decision just like any other decision you make on their behalf. Some people feel that the potential benefits are too few to justify the money spent. Others believe that it's a worthwhile investment. To make a rational decision, the key is in understanding the details.

Stem cells have been heavily researched during the past 10 years and there is no question they can work. Often called the building blocks of our body, they have the remarkable capability to transform into just about any human cell such as brain, heart or blood cells and could someday be used for treatment if your child ever becomes ill with certain diseases. They have also been found to be useful when treating a sick sibling or relative.

One of the richest sources of stem cells is in the cord blood, which is found in the umbilical cord – the birth cord that connects the baby to their mother. With today’s scientific advances, any parent can now bank their newborn’s cord blood stem cells at the time of birth. Phoenix Health Care Services is the certified agent of Biovault Technical in the Middle East, a UK-based human tissue storage facility and can help you store your baby’s stem cells long after they are born.

The company provides your doctor with a kit for stem cell extraction and then transfers under sterile conditions to the storage canisters. Stem cells are stored under highly-monitored conditions that ensure they stay viable for at least 30 years. Once needed, the stem cells can be transported to your doctor anywhere in the world.

The benefits of investing in your baby’s stem cells are many. They can be used to address arthritis and joint injuries, heart problems, and neurological disorders, with promising research and trials for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and type 1 diabetes. The American Medical Association (AMA) reported that there are “life-saving treatments for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, other blood disorders, and some solid tumors.” As a result, stem cell banking might be wise in certain cases. For instance, if someone in your family has one of the diseases that can be treated with stem cell therapy such as leukemia, banking would be a smart choice.

Although stem cell therapy is being viewed as the futuristic treatment to save us from disease, that doesn’t mean nutrition should take a back seat. In fact, good nutrition is behind stem cell integrity. The leading causes of death are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or diseases of long duration which are closely linked to poor diets. These NCDs include primarily heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes. Because the repercussions of an unhealthy diet are slow to happen many people do not realize that most disease can be overcome with proper nutrition. Although stem cell therapy can be of benefit to disease, unless there is a change of lifestyle to the better, it may not be sustainable.

baby shutterstock
baby shutterstock

Take for example a person who develops heart disease, which have likely been prevented early on by proper nutrition. This person goes for stem cell therapy and gets better, but if he does not begin to change his eating habits and lifestyle over the coming years, then he may again be prone to heart disease. So unless there is a change of lifestyle to the better, the results of stem cell therapy may not be sustainable.

Guidelines for proper nutrition

To reduce your risk of contracting diseases, healthy nutrition should start early in life. It begins with breastfeeding your baby which fosters healthy growth and reduces the likelihood that your baby becomes an overweight or obese adult. A balance in calories in versus calories out is important to maintain a healthy weight and reduce body fat. Sitting with a dietitian will help you determine the calories you need to cover the calories you are using up on a day to day basis.

Where these calories are coming from are equally important. Your fat calories should not exceed 30% of your total calorie intake. Remember to limit saturated fat such as that found in butter, whole milk, cheese, coconut oil, and fatty meat. Your diet should also be free from the worst type of fat known as trans-fat which can be found in commercially baked goods, chips, microwave popcorn, deep fried food, frozen pizza or cookie doughs, coffee creamers and stick margarines.

Finally, be wary of the “white poisons” – limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men, and limit salt intake to less than 1 teaspoon per day.

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