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Regular Consumption of CACAO Doubles The Stem Cells Circulating In Your Blood Vessels

In this blog post, we would like to look into a particular type of food, namely cacao, which can help the body to recruit the stem cells stored in the bone marrow to the areas of the body that need to be repaired, and allows the body to heal relatively faster while aging. Before looking into cacao, let's try to understand what stem cells are, what they do, and their role in AGING.

What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are the body's raw materials, meaning all other cells with specialized functions are generated from them. During the sperm and egg stages, human beings are comprised of the original primeval stem cells. Embryonic stem cells come from embryos that are 3 to 5 days old. At this stage, an embryo is called a blastocyst and has about 150 cells. Human body “packs up” millions of stem cells and stores them in the bone marrow from the time humans are babies. Recent research published in the British scientific journal, Nature estimates that of the approximately 37.2 trillion cells in our bodies, humans have between 50,000 and 200,000 adult stem cells that can differentiate into 1 of the 220+ types of cells in our bodies.

Some Unique Facts About Stem Cells

  • Under the right conditions in the body (or a laboratory), stem cells divide to form the so-called daughter cell.

  • Daughter cells become either new stem cells or specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells, liver cells or bone cells.

  • No other cells in the body except the stem cells have the natural ability to generate new cell types (differentiate).

When a stem cell divides, the resulting two daughter cells may be:

1) both stem cells,

2) a stem cell and a more differentiated cell, or

3) both more differentiated cells.

What controls the balance between these types of divisions to maintain stem cells at an appropriate level within a given tissue is not yet well known.

As the years fly by, these amazingly adaptable cells can do almost anything: cause your bones, muscles, and brain to grow, repair wounds, and replace dying cells. But there’s a catch: Each human is born with a fixed amount of stem cells. It’s hard to know how many adult stem cells in total the average person has, but some researchers estimate we may have millions of stem cells in our bodies. That’s millions upon millions of cells that can become new tissue, nerve, and blood cells every minute of your life!

After birth, undifferentiated stem cells rapidly decline. Once we’ve spent them all, it’s game over. As you run out of stem cells, you notice your body no longer repairs and regenerates like it used to when you were younger. This is what we commonly call “aging.” Your skin starts to loosen, broken bones and cuts heal very slowly, and you begin to lose your strength, vitality, and mental sharpness.

As the human body ages, the stem cells stored in the bone marrow also age. During the aging process, stem cells gradually loose their ability to differentiate between various cell types, thus their ability to repair the specific damaged regions of the body deteriorates. For example, when the body suffers a liver damage from too much alcohol, or a wound from a cut or scrape, stem cells come “flying out” of the bone marrow to repair the damaged area.

Reasons Why Stem Cells Deteriorate and Deplete with Aging

There are 4 main causes of why stem cells become depleted and deteriorated as you age.

  • Your environment

To a great extent, how many stem cells are in a human body at any given age may depend on many external and internal influences.

  • Pollution, radiation, and poor quality foods.

  • Hormonal, metabolic and immunologic disorders (stress, sickness)

  • Substance abuse.

The more damage our bodies need to repair because of these factors, the more stem cells are used and depleted.

  • Natural aging

As we age, we naturally suffer a progressive decline in the effectiveness of our stem cells. This is due to DNA damage and telomere shortening. This is why a teenager’s broken bone will heal 10X faster than a senior citizen’s broken bone.

Also, because adult stem cells seem to age with the person, DNA mutations are no longer repaired properly. This explains why the spine begins to hunch over, cancers are more likely to develop, and the skin remains wrinkled for older ones.

  • Extensive Use

We all have a set amount of stem cells. The more we use them, the sooner they run out and deteriorate. Athletes, as a prime example, amazingly grow their muscles, speed up nerve reaction time, and harness metabolic functions at a higher rate than the average person.

But such extensive use of their body’s stem cells means that they also deplete their regenerative reservoirs quicker. No wonder pro athletes frequent Holistic Bio Spa for stem cell treatments.

  • Your Genetics

You know how some people were born into a rich family? Curiously, a similar phenomenon seems to exist in regard to stem cells. Due to inherited DNA factors, some people are born with millions of stem cells more than others; and they may live healthy long lives despite unhealthy habits.

Whereas others born with less regenerative potential will “spend” their stem cells more cautiously by leading a healthy lifestyle. Rest assured, most of us are born somewhere in the middle, and lifestyle choices determine the rest.

What Are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are a category of compounds found naturally in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, dark chocolate, and wine. They act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation, which is root cause of many chronic illnesses and stem cell depletion. Dark chocolate, otherwise known as cacao or its more processed cousin cocoa, is rich in polyphenols that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals —protect the body from cell damage which may reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and reduce the excessive use of stem cells for repairs. Cacao is also rich in magnesium.

Polyphenols are categorized into 4 main groups:

  • Phenolic acids account for around 30% of all polyphenols, and are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and seeds.

  • Polyphenolic amides are found in chili peppers and oats.

  • Other polyphenols are found in red wine, berries, turmeric, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and whole grains.

  • Flavonoids account for around 60% of all polyphenols —quercetin, kaempferol, catechins, and anthocyanins. They are found in foods like apples, onions, red cabbage and cacao.

Among flavonoids, there is a distinct sub-group called flavanols. And the cacao flavanols are special on their own —they’re a unique blend of phytonutrients found only in the prized cocoa beans.

Cacao vs. Cocoa: What is the Difference?

You may have realized that some chocolate products are marketed as “cacao” (labeled cacao nibs) and others as “cocoa” (labeled as cocoa powder). The difference is as follows. Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which are technically considered seeds. Products utilizing the entire cacao pod in raw state are deemed “cacao,” and the roasted, pressed and more processed powder form garners the name “cocoa.” Nevertheless, the terminology does not matter much. Both cacao and cocoa can be extraordinarily nutrient-dense. What matters is the flavonoid levels and purity (no added sugar) of a product.

Dark chocolate containing 80 percent cacao or higher is packed with nutrients that can strengthen your body’s defense systems and positively affect your overall health. Caution: Before you run out and buy your favorite dark chocolate bar, be aware that the processing of cacao beans —fermentation, roasting, and alkalization— can lead to the destruction of some of the unique flavanols. Read more here.

Dark Chocolate Is One Of The Best Foods For Improving The Stem Cell Response.

At the University of California, San Francisco, researchers explored whether a chocolate drink made with cocoa containing high levels of flavanols (750mg daily) would influence the stem cells and blood vessel health in adults with coronary artery disease. At the end of the 30-day trial, it has been documented that the participants who drank the high-flavanol beverage had twice as many stem cells circulating in their blood vessels compared to those who drank the low- flavanol cocoa.

The high-flavanol group also showed a major improvement in endothelial function —endothelial cells form the barrier between blood vessels and tissue and control the flow of substances and fluid into and out of a tissue cells. They line blood vessels, assist with the kidney's filtration of waste products into urine, release of hormones by the glands, the movement of immune cells, and the tightening or dilating of blood vessels in response to hormones like adrenaline— as measured by a 47% increase in flow mediated vasodilation (artery flexibility) relative to the low-flavanol group. You can read the study here.

William W. Li, MD is one of the leading proponents of cacao as a nutritious super food. He recommends to drink two cups of dark, hot chocolate as the best way to get your daily dose of cacao, which can actually double the number of stem cells flowing in your bloodstream at any given time. In his book titled “Eat to Beat Disease,” Dr. Li writes “Your immune cells are regenerated every seven days, so if your stem cells disappeared, you’d likely die of an infection soon after.”

Dr. Li talks about cacao, stem cells, and healing the body through food in this video interview below (proceed to 13-minute mark on the video to hear about stem cell recruiting foods).

Well, we agree with Dr. Li. We recommend that you enjoy your dark chocolate daily. It is great for you!

Anaother final article from Harvard worth reading: Your brain on chocolate

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