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TMHS 345: The Science of Stem Cells & How to Eat to Beat Disease with Dr. William Li
There’s a ton of conflicting information about which foods you should keep off your plate. You name a food, it’s probably been vilified on some corner of the internet. Everything from coconut oil to rice, even entire food groups and macronutrients have been metaphorically hunted with pitchforks and torches.
This approach rarely serves anyone. You probably already know that food is medicine, and that what you choose to put on your plate can have incredible implications on your overall health. But instead of taking an extreme fear-based approach toward eliminating foods, what if we instead focused on abundance and expansion? Adding food to your plate that is scientifically proven to prevent disease is a much more logical and sustainable approach.
That’s why I think you’re going to love this episode with Dr. William Li. His groundbreaking research has had a positive impact on diseases such as cancer, obesity, and heart disease. In his new book, Eat to Beat Disease, he highlights how what you eat can help aid your body’s natural healing processes. This realistic approach contains tips that anyone can implement, no matter your lifestyle or dietary preferences. So click play, take notes, and use Dr. Li’s insights to add a helping of prevention to your plate!
In this episode you’ll discover:
- Why food is a critical component of disease prevention.
- How nutrition courses are treated in medical school.
- What angiogenesis is.
- How diseases like cancer can hijack the body’s angiogenesis.
- What science actually says about eating soy products.
- Surprising health benefits of eating chicken thighs.
- The fascinating science on how the human body can regenerate.
- Where most of the stem cells are located inside the human body.
- The health benefits of eating dark chocolate.
- How immunotherapy works
- The role of the bacteria, Akkermansia muciniphila.
- A list of fermented foods to help your gut bacteria flourish.
- Why deprivation diets are unsustainable long-term.
- How secondhand smoke can damage your DNA.
- What telomeres are, and how to preserve (and lengthen!) them.
- How to maximize the health benefits of turmeric.
- The body’s five defense systems.
- Why Dr. Li calls mangos the “grand slammer of all food.”
- The health benefits (and stipulations) of beer and wine.
Items mentioned in this episode include:
- Organifi.com/Model ⇐ Use the coupon code MODEL for 20% off!
- Foursigmatic.com/model ⇐ Get 15% off your daily health elixirs and coffee!
- William Li’s TEDEd Talk – Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?
- Eat to Beat Disease by William Li, MD
- 5 Tips for a Healthy Liver – Episode 68
- Connect with Dr. Li Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!
Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today.
This is a powerhouse important episode. We're diving in and talking about the latest and greatest research regarding the power that food has on influencing our health and disease prevention and even reversal.
And this science that you're going to learn today, it's probably going to really, really knock your socks off. Alright? So make sure that you've got your socks on nice and snug because they might get blown off. Alright? So be ready.
Now, listen. The reason that this is really important from my perspective is that our physicians, our instructors, and coaches; they do play a big role for us in managing our health, but as that, somebody who is a guidance or a coach.
But the reality is that no one can do your push-ups for you, and no one else is putting your food into your mouth. This is something that we have to take personal responsibility for, because at the end of the day, food is one of the most influential things in our reality that literally controls our genetic expression.
What we eat determines what our genes are doing, literally determining the copies that are getting printed out of us, whether they're really high quality, the very best high gloss HD copies, or the copies from like twenty years ago, Xerox machine, where it's like a copy of a copy of a copy. You can't even tell what it is anymore.
I don't know about you. When I was in school, I made copies of a notebook, and got like the notebook rings on the side of the copy, and just bad business. You don't want those kind of copies.
So food has a huge impact with nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics, and today we're going to be talking about some of those things that influence what our genes and our DNA is actually doing and the latest science regarding that.
Now, it might surprise you to know that even in our current medical system, thousands of drugs have been synthesizing and using compounds that are found in foods, in different botanicals, different plants that are out there, and there a large percentage of drugs on the market right now, even something like penicillin.
Large percentage on the market right now that are derived from fungi or fungi. If you're a fungi. But these things have been around for a very long time.
But modern science is trying- let's find this one isolated thing and try to synthesize it, super inject it. Captain America that stuff up and inject it into you or put it in a pill.
But the reality is food has all of the co-factors that really make the magic happen, because with food, it doesn't just do one thing.
You'll find today that certain foods that we might eat for regulating our blood sugar are also good for fat loss, or certain things that are good for protecting against heart disease are also good for supporting your microbiome. And the list goes on and on.
So really, really powerful episode, and we've got the greatest person on the planet to talk about this topic with us today and his incredible new book as well.
So with that said, for me, one of the things that I'm so grateful that I took last night- because listen to this. There was a study published in the June 2006 issue of Life Enhancement.
Scientists found that turmeric, which we have this bile constituent that's found in concentration in turmeric called curcumin protected mice that were kept awake for 72 hours against symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as impaired locomotor activity, memory dysfunction, weight issues, and even depression that can result from us being dramatically sleep deprived.
And the group that received the curcumin treatment before sleep deprivation - this is the key, it was taken before, not as a treatment after - showed significant decrease in anxiety-like behavior and oxidative stress that's caused by a lack of sleep.
And the group also showed improvement in their impaired locomotor activity. So we've got these models, we've got human models now affirming that turmeric is a very, very powerful food and has this great resonance with the human body.
The reason I'm glad that I took it last night is that 95% of time, my youngest son, Braden who's 7 right now, 95% of the time he sleeps through the night. It's all good. Not last night, though. Alright?
And I think that he appeals to either me or my wife, to whichever one he knows he can manipulate in the moment.
Sometimes you hear, "Mom," sometimes you hear, "Daddy, daddy." Last night, I couldn't really make it out. It sounded like "Mommy or Daddy, Mommy, Daddy."
And I was like, "Who was he calling? What does he want?" Went to check on him, guess what he wanted? This was 3:00 in the morning. His leg was itching. His leg was itching. Alright?
So definitely didn't have the greatest night of sleep last night, but it's all good. I take my daily turmeric from Organifi.
So this is a supercritical extract of turmeric, also including a biopotentiator, which is black pepper, and the active component in there, which is pepper rind, makes your body use it a little bit better.
And this one of the things we're going to be talking about today, this phytonutrient combining and putting things together and how they work in combination, better sometimes for the human body. So I'm excited about that.
Definitely get your hands- this is something I travel with as well on a daily turmeric supplement, or you can get it in there Gold formula. Right?
So this is the Gold that you can add to things like almond milk and water, and it has the turmeric in there as well as coconut milk, it tastes really yummy.
And then a bunch of different medicinal mushrooms like Reishi and things like that. So it's amazing. Head over there. Check them out. It's www.Organifi.com/model. You get 20% off everything they carry.
So that's Organifi. That's www.Organifi.com/model for 20% off. Now let's get to the Apple Podcasts review of the week.
Apple Podcasts Review: Another five-star review titled, 'Literally Changed My Life,' by AlexandriaMarney1989Austria. "So happy I could cry. Just listened to the emotional intelligence episode and had a huge listening up moment when I heard what I can actually help people that had a massive brain injury just like me.
I ordered these mushrooms instantly and can't wait to try it. So grateful. Thank you, Shawn."
Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. Thank you so much for that, and I'm grateful for you. Thank you for heading over to Apple Podcasts and sharing that with everyone. I appreciate that so very much.
And listen, if you've yet to do so, please pop over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review for the show, and just keep the love coming. Alright?
We've got some incredible stuff coming your way, so the best is yet to come for sure. And it starts today with our incredible guest.
And today's guest is Dr. William Li, and he's an internationally renowned medical doctor, researcher, and President and Founder of the Angiogenesis Foundation.
His groundbreaking work has led to the development of more than thirty new medical treatments. He's impacted more than fifty million people worldwide and covers more than seventy diseases, including cancer, diabetes, blindness, heart disease, and obesity.
And his TED talk, which is where I first saw him, incredible. One of the biggest TED talks ever called, 'Can We Eat to Starve Cancer,' has garnered more than eleven million views.
And Dr. Li's appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, MSNBC, and has been featured in USA Today, Time, O Magazine, the list goes on and on.
Dr. Li has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and presented at the Vatican Unite to Cure conference. And now he's here on The Model Health Show to share his wisdom with all of us. And I'd like to welcome Dr. William Li. How are you doing today?
Dr. William Li: I'm doing very well. Thank you, Shawn, for inviting me to join you.
Shawn Stevenson: It's totally my pleasure. Been looking forward for this for a long time. So you are where right now?
Dr. William Li: I'm in Massachusetts, in New England.
Shawn Stevenson: And that's where you are currently stationed primarily?
Dr. William Li: That's where I work. Although the world is my office, I go wherever health needs to be addressed.
Shawn Stevenson: Ooh, I like that. I like that a lot. I like that a lot. So let's dive right in. Because for me, I know about a lot of your work, and definitely in reading this new book just had my mind blown.
But I want to know about you a little more. What in the world got you into this field? What got you interested initially?
I'm talking like when you were a kid deciding on what you're going go to school for, what got you interested in health and wellness in the first place?
Dr. William Li: Well, when we're kids, we're all running around and physically active, and I happened to grow up in an environment where food was an important part of my life growing up. And we always had fresh food done with nice ingredients, it was always tasty.
I remember coming home from school and the smell was coming out of the kitchen. It was really what I associate with my home. And later on, I went to medical school and I knew that I wanted to be a doctor to help people.
And pretty quickly, I realized that everything we're being taught, Shawn, was about diagnosing diseases and prescribing medicines, which as a doctor, that's really important. I've seen firsthand how important medicines can be, lifesaving in many cases.
But really, I think as I've gotten on with my career, and I've helped to develop thirty-some FDA approved treatments, I started realizing the bigger challenge, the bigger opportunity and challenge for us is really to prevent disease in the first place.
The moment you start talking about prevention, you can't be talking about medicines anymore. You have to talk about food. It's a different tool in the toolbox.
And I started to realize that all the research and all the science that I had looking at medicines has not yet been applied to food. And that's what I really wrote my book, 'Eat to Beat Disease' about is what's the science behind how the body heals itself?
Because when it comes to our food and health, it's not just about the food, it's about how our body responds to what we put inside it.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, absolutely. I love this so much. And just hearing a little bit of your story and how this kind of progressed.
I went to a traditional university, and going premed, it wasn't even required for me to take anything regarding nutrition, which at the time I didn't think anything about it. But now looking back it's just really shocking because food really is what we make our bodies out of. So it's kind of important.
But for me, even in my story, when I was dealing with my own health issue, I asked my physician, "Should I change the way I'm eating?" And he said that it doesn't matter.
He just looked me dead in my eyes and said, "It's not important." And I just took that at face value, and come to find out again, things are radically different and your book really highlights that.
Dr. William Li: Well, you know, it's interesting because Hippocrates is the father of all medicine, talked about food as our medicine. And that idea is now coming up, really because the science is coming up.
You know, it's interesting you talk about the premed requirements. Yeah. You know, like we just get loaded on with heavy duty science. We've got to get that under our belt in order to be able to get into school.
And even in med school, I can tell you in residency training, everything else beyond that, nutrition has always been considered kind of like the lightweight subject, and one we don't have enough time for.
And the truth of the matter is it's a subject we cannot not have. It is a subject that is the foundation of understanding our health.
And if you don't understand health, really you can't understand disease. So I think we're kind of going back to the wisdom of the ancient and trying to- but with real science behind it now.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, and that's what's so exciting, so exciting. And we're going to talk about some of these specific foods and nutrients today.
But I think we need that foundational understanding, which you start with in the book in talking about these five defense systems. Because what people are going to learn today, we're talking about potentially helping you to prevent serious conditions and also supporting your body and being able to recover from some pretty serious things.
So this is vital information, but we need to know about these five defense systems. So let's talk a little bit about each. And if we can, let's start with angiogenesis, because that's obviously one of the hallmark things you're known for.
Dr. William Li: Right. Well, so let's take one step back to say that I'm sure all of your listeners think about health really as the absence of disease. You're not sick, you're healthy, right? Like that's the typical thing.
You go for a checkup, you get the pat on the back, and you're like, "Man, I got out of that one lucky this time." Right? That's what most people think.
But we now know that health is a lot more than that. Good health is actually the result of our body's natural health defense systems that are hardwired inside us and they protect us, these defenses, from the time we're born to our very last breath.
When we get sick, it's usually because one or more of these health defense systems actually failed us or they're getting weaker.
And so that's really what got me interested in what is defining health itself? So we found five systems. There's probably more than that, but in my book, I write about five core foundational systems.
First one is angiogenesis. So that's what I do. Angiogenesis is how the body grows blood vessels. Blood vessels are our circulation. That brings oxygen and nutrients to every single cell in our body.
So it's a powerful way of nourishing, replenishing and feeding our system. If our blood vessels aren't healthy, we’re not healthy.
So that's actually a powerful system that, guess what, can be boosted by foods, even though the biotech world has been working on drugs to manipulate the system. Turns out Mother Nature's beat them to the punch by already creating lots of foods that can do it.
Shawn Stevenson: So I've got a question. You map it out. How much of these pathways, when we're talking about these blood vessels, how much do we have in our bodies?
Dr. William Li: Right. So it's amazing how many blood vessels we have; 60,000 miles worth of blood vessels packed inside our skin. That's enough, that if you were to pull them out end to end and line them up, that would encircle the earth twice. So really a powerful- a lot of real estate there to help feed our body.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes. So there's a couple of things that are related and it really just set the light bulb off in my mind about this, because angiogenesis is related to normal things like wound healing and childbirth. So can you talk a little bit about that? Because there's also a potential dark side to it.
Dr. William Li: So like almost everything else in life, there are sort of two sides of the coin. Normal angiogenesis feeds everything but the way that we've evolved as humans is if we cut ourselves, our body knows that.
Our defense system springs into action, figures out where the injury is, and starts growing blood vessels to heal it up.
In fact, if you've ever had a scab, you scraped your knee and had a scab, that scab comes off a little too early, that bright red stuff underneath it, that's angiogenesis. It's new blood vessels growing to feed and heal that wound.
So really, really important. But then when you're done healing, the body kind of turns it all down, and right sizes it back to where it needs to be.
For childbirth, every month a woman who is of reproductive age grows a lining in her uterus called the endometrium, and that's what gets sloughed off during menstruation, and then it gets built right back up so that if there's a sperm that meets the egg, it has a nice nest, blood vessel nest to implant it so we can actually grow.
So when the baby grows, you've got the placenta and you've got the actual organs forming, that requires angiogenesis yet again. So we can't get away from angiogenesis. It is very much a part of who we are.
But as you point out, there is a dark side to it because diseases can highjack this process and feed themselves. And the best example of this is cancer. Cancers form all the time in our bodies, but they are completely harmless.
They don't cause disease because normally they don't have a blood supply. So they can grow maybe two millimeters in diameter, it's about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen, then that's it. They're frozen until your immune system spots them and wipes them out.
But if they're able to actually survive long enough and release these natural chemicals, these proteins that are fertilized as the draw blood vessels highjack the blood vessels that feed themselves, they can explode in size.
In fact, once blood vessels reach a tumor, it grows 16,000 times in just a couple of weeks. So it's really deadly for us.
So harmless cancer, no blood vessels. Deadly cancer, filled with blood vessels. And that's why we're very interested, and that's what I gave my TED talk on, is what are some foods that can actually cut off the blood supply feeding cancers?
Shawn Stevenson: Oh, my goodness. And I want to dive in and talk about some of them now, because I mentioned earlier, turmeric is one of those that has these antiangiogenesis properties to it. But you highlight so many in the book, it's just so mind blowing.
Dr. William Li: I'm very impressed that you know the mechanisms of turmeric, and also that you understand that black pepper and piperine actually work together to elevate those levels in the body.
That's a pretty sophisticated concept and not everybody knows it, so I'm glad you're getting the word out. So turmeric is one of the antiangiogenic spices.
There are other spices as well, but in my book 'Eat to Beat Disease,' I wanted to really help clear up confusion with science. And so there's probably no more confusing food than soy. Right?
Women are being told everywhere that if they want to avoid breast cancer, they've got to avoid soy. And so I addressed this in my book. What's the real truth? What's the science?
Well, it turns out that soy is packed with a natural antiangiogenic cancer starving substance. Here's a little background about soy controversy.
Soy's gotten a scary reputation because some people believe that the plant-based estrogen that's in soy can cause breast cancer.
We know that human estrogen can cause breast cancer, but it turns out science tells us plant estrogens are nothing like human estrogens, and in fact, it can counter their effects.
How do we know this? Well, I write about a study of 5,000 women who have breast cancer, the most vulnerable population, and this study showed that women with breast cancer, those who eat more soy, had about a 30% decrease in their risk of mortality. 30% lower.
And how does it work? There's a natural chemical called genistein that's in soy that cuts off the blood supply feeding not just breast cancers, but all cancers.
How much do you need? The researchers found about ten grams of soy protein a day. That's what you'd find in a cup of soy milk.
Shawn Stevenson: That's so fascinating, because for me- this was again, this was about ten, even maybe twelve years ago when I started here, and there was nothing really to solidify this.
But these soy- these phytoestrogens got lumped in with these xenoestrogens we might find in things like plastic bisphenol A or something like that. And we really didn't have this data that we have now to hear that wait a minute, it's not operating- it's not fitting into those estrogen receptor sites in the human body the same way in causing these problems.
Matter of fact, it's supportive, and that's really, really a breath of fresh air.
Dr. William Li: This is where science leads the way, right? I think when it comes to food and health, it's so confusing to hear about a superfood or a super diet. You hear it's curative one week, and then the next week it flip flops the other side.
If research scientists did that all the time with our medicines, we'd never know what to do. But what scientists do, what really serious doctors do, is we just follow the trail of science.
It's like the headlights shine forward, we just figure out what we're seeing within our windshield.
Shawn Stevenson: This leads me to asking you about- this is really, really interesting. It has antiangiogenic properties; chicken thigh. Chicken thigh. We've got to talk about this.
Dr. William Li: Alright man, well look, I love chicken thighs. I think chicken thighs are the tastiest part of a chicken. But you know, most people grow up being kind of brainwashed that you've got to have chicken breasts. Right?
By the way, real chickens in the wild, their breasts are like this thin. I mean, chickens in the wild are like- they're not buff like a farm chicken.
Shawn Stevenson: They don't have the augmentation.
Dr. William Li: They don't have the augmentation. That's right. But chicken thighs actually are the dark meat. Right? So dark meat is getting the exercise, and it turns out the chicken thighs accumulate a natural vitamin called vitamin K2.
And similar to other vitamins, they actually add something to the body. So in the case of vitamin K2, it's antiangiogenic, and it actually cuts off the blood supply to tumors.
And so there's public health studies showing that people who eat diets containing vitamin K2, and chicken thighs is a great source of it, actually have lower risk of certain types of cancer.
Shawn Stevenson: Really, really remarkable. And again, you cite so many different interesting studies here in the book regarding this. And even with- you say here, 'People who ate more K2 containing foods had more than 57% reduction in the chance of dying from heart disease.'
Really, really powerful stuff. So it's these nutrients don't just do one thing, and that's another thing that you share throughout the book.
Dr. William Li: That's right. You know, although in the public domain, people tend to really simplify things into a message. Like this compound does that, and that's all it does. In reality, Mother Nature is incredibly resourceful.
So she generally gave lots of job descriptions to almost anything that's found in our food. And so this is why we need more research. But already we're beginning to learn the kinds of things that are present in food and how they act in the body.
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely. Absolutely. So we've got- this is one of these- again, you've got five defense systems. So this is one; angiogenesis. So let's move on and talk about stem cells.
This is something that I literally- when I was reading this in the book, I was like- because I did a talk on this at a university literally nine years ago in talking about pluripotent, and multipotent stem cells, and adult stem cells, and this process.
But now you've got so much more data, and you've got it highlighted in the book, it just really spoke to my soul and how powerful this stuff is. So let's talk about stem cells.
Dr. William Li: Well, we're all made out of stem cells. So when our moms got together with our dads and started to create, the fetus that we started from and as we grew in the womb, the only reason we're around is because our stem cells actually created us.
So that's why it's part of your soul. Because it is you and it's me. We're all made out of stem cells. The thing is that when we grow up, even as adults, we still have some stem cells that are left.
So if you take a look at thirty seven trillion human cells in the adult body, we've got about 0.002% small fraction. Actually, the absolute number is pretty big, it's about seventy-four million of our cells.
Still our stem cells, which means that they're hanging around waiting to actually fix and regenerate our bodies. Listen, when we were kids, we learn from our teachers that starfish and salamanders can regenerate, but people can't. Right?
That's what we all heard about. But science has turned that around. We now know that people do regenerate from the inside out, and with these stem cells that are still left.
It does it slowly, but that's what actually helps us heal when we're injured, and also regenerate parts of ourselves, including our brain.
In fact, there was a research study just that produced- or it was published just last week that just showed that, in fact, the adult brain actually still regenerates new neurons. So quite amazing what these things do.
Alright. Part of our defense systems, obviously very, very important, and it turns out that foods can actually enhance our stem cells, coax them out, help us repair our cells, stimulate our own regeneration.
And there are other foods that can actually damage them. And so this is actually another one of our defenses that's very sensitive. We've got to kind of treat them the right way and then we can actually boost them whenever we need to.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes. Yes. And so, as you mentioned, this is the beginning of life. You know, egg and sperm meet, then we have this kind of explosion of activity with these stem cells, and these particular stem cells are able to diversify and become anything our bodies need.
But as we develop, we start to have less and less of those types of stem cells and have more specialized stem cells. But if you could, can you share where do our stem cells- as we grow into adults, where do they hide out, and how many do we have left? Because I would think that it's not one of the biggest resources that we have access to.
Dr. William Li: Yeah, they're sort of like diamonds hiding in the mountain. And most of them are living inside our bone marrow. Right?
So our bones are actually hollow. They're not actually filled with- they're not all bone all the way solid through. In the middle of a bone marrow are tons of cells, including blood cells, but mostly stem cells.
And so those stem cells live in- they're like bees living in a hive, waiting for the time when they're actually needed. So on an average day, the body releases a few of these bees, these stem cells, into the circulation. They're conducting surveillance, figuring out what needs to be repaired, and doing their job.
If you have an injury though, whether it's surgery or trauma, if your heart's starved of oxygen with clogging from cholesterol, then more stem cells come pouring out. They go right to the site of trouble.
They're kind of like trouble shooters, right? Again, not many. They are like 0.002% of all of our cells are stem cells. So they're the minority of our cells, but they are powerful because, as you say, wherever they go, they know how to turn into that tissue or that organ.
Shawn Stevenson: So amazing. And you know, if we really think about this, and I've done like a master class episode talking about the liver; we can lose like a third, even potentially two thirds of our liver, and it's able to regenerate.
Like we have this capacity within us, but we don't think about it in terms of like how amazing and how good could this get potentially if we really understand what stem cells can do in regenerating, like you just mentioned, our brains or if somebody does lose a limb, for example?
Dr. William Li: Well, you know that our nerves actually regenerate at two millimeters a day. So you can take it out on a ruler, and if you actually had a problem with your arm, you can actually measure how much nerve you'll grow every single day to regenerate.
So think about the implications for the spinal cord or after stroke. I mean, massive implications. And you know, there are lots of biotech companies, Shawn, that are developing stem cell therapies where they're taking stem cells, and processing them, and trying to figure out ways to inject them back in for sickness.
Again, we're back to that old model, which is a worthy one, looking for a sick person and figuring out how to actually inject a bullet back in them to wipe out a disease. I'm all for that.
However, the amazing thing that I write about my book is the science has also shown us that foods can actually help support and coax out our own stem cells. So we don't need to be injected, we can just eat the right things.
Shawn Stevenson: That's exactly what I want to talk about now. So I would love to talk about some of these foods and nutrients that are capable of, like you said, coaxing out and mobilizing these stem cells so our bodies can potentially be able to do these jobs that we've been talking about.
Dr. William Li: Right. Well you know, this is a relatively new area of research. I'll tell you, the most surprising one first, because I think your listeners will like this, is actually dark chocolate.
So you know, who needs another reason to like chocolate? But here's one that's really informed by science. So we know that really dark chocolate is made with cacao.
Cacao is a natural substance that comes out of a bean, and inside those cacao beans are polyphenols. Right? Really potent polyphenols.
And so dark chocolate, which is usually 70% or higher, you can just look at that number on the side of a chocolate bar. You might find darker. The higher the number, the more potent it actually is.
Actually can help mobilize those stem cells out of our bone marrow. There's a study I write about from UCSF in San Francisco, University of California, San Francisco, where they took patients with coronary disease.
These are people that already had heart disease with narrowing of their arteries, and they gave them hot cocoa. So just like made with dark chocolate- super dark chocolate twice a day, and they had them drink that every day for a month, thirty days.
And they looked at their blood from the beginning to the very end, and they found that the only thing they ever did was actually drink this cocoa. That's the only intervention.
It doubled the number of stem cells in the same person from beginning to end. And it also improved their circulation, their blood flow.
When they measured it using the same kind of tests that we use in a medical clinic or for biotech companies, it actually doubled the activity of their blood flow.
So this is quite an amazing story that even some like chocolate, a small drink. It was only an eight ounce cup twice a day was powerful enough to do this. But there are other beverages that also can actually mobilize stem cells.
Shawn Stevenson: I had to keep my brain from popping out of my head right there. That's just nuts. That is incredible. That's so remarkable. Something so simple. It's like super prevalent in our culture, but we're a little bit off.
We're thinking in terms of the candy bar, but getting like the real thing, closer to the natural state, the cacao, and then all the other things it has as well.
Because again, the food doesn't just do one thing. We also have a great source of magnesium and iron, so it can potentially help with anemia. And we've got precursors to neurotransmitters and hormones like serotonin, and anandamide, and tryptophan, all from chocolate.
And the stem cell thing, it's just too much. I love it. I love it so much. So cool. So we've got the stem cells covered, and we talked about angiogenesis.
So let's talk next about- and this one right here is super hot out there in the world of health and wellness. But here's the thing, I'm going to preface this for you.
You say in your book, we are no longer simply human. Tell me what you mean by that.
Dr. William Li: Alright. Well, there's a term called holobiont. And that word refers to an organism that's actually made up of smaller organisms, or other multiple organisms, to function as a whole.
And that's what we are. We call ourselves humans, but in fact, we're human cells mixed with bacteria cells, and those healthy bacteria, which is what we call the microbiome- and by the way, there's thirty-nine trillion of those bacteria living inside our body, means that we're kind of an ecosystem.
We're a big coral reef. Some of them are human cells, and some of them are bacteria cells, and we collaborate in this ecosystem. We make one gigantic neighborhood that gets together.
And like any neighborhood, when you've got good people in it, good cells, good bacteria, things work pretty well. You know? Everybody's happy.
And when you've got some bad players, bad actors - and that can happen in the body as well, you get some bad bacteria in that neighborhood - you wind up having a disrupted ecosystem and you wind up having problems.
And we're beginning to realize that a lot of health problems may actually be tracked back to problems in our bacteria. Our healthy bacteria aren't healthy anymore.
The new frontier for health starts inside our gut with our bacteria.
Shawn Stevenson: So true. And one of the things that has been coming forward is the influence that our microbiome has on our- it's kind of like the big epigenetic influence. And we'll talk more about that in a moment, but knowing that these microbes have genes as well.
And if you take all their number, potentially has more genes than we do, and we think that we just have this one genetic lot that we've been given, and all of this stuff is so flexible and changeable, and our diet plays a huge role in this.
And one of the specific bacteria that you talk about is akkermansia. Can you talk about this one? Because as far as eating to beat disease and longevity, I think this is one that people are going to be hearing a lot about.
Dr. William Li: Right. So this akkermansia is bacteria that only had been discovered in the 90s, so it's really not one of these ancient bacteria that we've known about since Louis Pasteur kind of thing. Right? Like one of the earlier discoveries of microorganisms.
And it became important in my work because one of the things that actually has happened in medicine is that we now are beginning to treat cancer patients with something called immunotherapy.
Immune therapies can actually really eliminate all cancer in a patient by not killing the cancer directly, but by activating your own immune system, and allowing your immune system, which is another one of our defenses, to search and destroy and figure out any of these bad cells that need to go away. Right?
That's what normally happens. I mentioned to you, like I think we're all forming cancers all the time. You don't have angiogenesis, the immune system's got to wipe that out.
But when we do have cancer, what we now know is that immune therapies can be given to cancer patients, these are FDA approved, they've changed the way we even think about cancer, and treat these patients with immune therapies, and it activates, lights up the immune system to wipe out the cancer.
Now, some patients don't respond very well to these immune therapies, meaning the cancer doesn't actually shrink, doesn't go away, and it's one of the big mysteries on why.
Well, a couple of years ago, a colleague of mine in Paris was speaking at a meeting that I had invited her to, her name is Dr. Lauren [Inaudible 00:35:03] out of Paris, and she's a brilliant immunologist who discovered in people who- cancer patients who were getting treated with these immune therapies, that the difference between whether they would respond and do well to the treatment or not respond and not do well was one bacteria.
And that one bacteria's akkermansia. If you had akkermansia, you did well. Your immune system was able to activate, and that just shows you how powerful the microbiome is.
Like it talks directly and facilitates our immune system. You didn't have it, man, game over. So here's the thing about akkermansia. You can't eat it as a probiotic. Right?
So there's no- like you can't go online and order the akkermansia probiotic. The only way you can grow akkermansia, Shawn, is with food.
It turns out that pomegranate juice can actually change the gut in a way that the akkermansia loves to grow. Akkermansia love to grow the mucus lining of the gut.
When you have pomegranate juice, like real pomegranate juice, it'll actually grow that mucus lining, and within about a month, you can kind of double or triple the amount of akkermansia that you need for your immune system.
Shawn Stevenson: Wow. Wow. That's nuts. Again, just so remarkable. And also, akkermansia is correlated with longevity, seeing folks that are living over 100 years having a higher ratio of that as well.
Dr. William Li: That's right. So you know, we're beginning to just- this is the new biology, right? Like kids who are actually interested in going into science or medicine today are going to be learning all this stuff as part of their fundamentals.
And for us, it's like new discoveries. So we're really at this golden age, I think, of discovering about the secrets of health.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes. So let's start to add in some pomegranates out there, and also pomegranate juice. Be careful with the kind that's sweetened with sugar and things like that.
Dr. William Li: Because added sugar actually injures our microbiome. The other thing I want to mention for your listeners about akkermansia is that it's pretty vulnerable. You know?
Like you take a common antibiotic that will use for bronchitis that everybody gives, that'll wipe out the akkermansia pretty quickly. And so this is a bacteria that we've got to grow back, and that's why you've got to keep on top of that.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. And you talk about in the book how we lose these species, and some of them can be very difficult to get back, if we can even get them back at all.
And especially as our children, we pass these on, our microbiome, and we start to see complete like- microbiome, if we're thinking about it in terms of being like a rainforest, we've got like some species that might be endangered, some are extinct, and it can be very difficult to get these back.
And especially as we go on in our lineage, as we pass on these traits and our microbiome get passed on to our children and our grandchildren, and so we need to pay attention to this stuff right now and be a little bit more judicious in our use of antibiotics.
They can absolutely be lifesaving, but in some instances, we do not need them and we could do some other things instead. And this is why we need to be more conscious as we're working alongside our physicians and our instructors, health coaches, things like that.
And so with that said, super fascinating stuff, but I want to ask you about a couple of other foods to support our microbiome, but we'll do that right after this quick break. So sit tight, we'll be right back.
Alright, we're back and we're talking with Dr. William Li, who is the author of the new book, 'Eat to Beat Disease.' I got an early copy, but now it's out and available for everybody.
One of my favorite books of all times. This is really, really something special and bringing together a lot of the science on food and on nutrition that we've speculated for a while.
And we know we've got maybe a little bit of this, this looks promising, but he's really diving in and giving us the full picture on some of these foods. And so before the break, we were talking about the microbiome, and so I would imagine that ferments would be something important to add in, maybe even something like kimchi.
Dr. William Li: Well, it's amazing to know that kimchi is made with fermented- is fermented and is rich with bacteria. And it's been known for more than twenty years that people that eat kimchi actually have a stronger immune system.
We're feeding- we're putting bacteria in them. And in fact, kimchi itself has its own unique kimchi type of bacteria, and it's been shown to actually fight the flu. But kimchi isn't the only thing.
You know, some people love kimchi, I love kimchi, but not everybody likes it. So how about sauerkraut? Right? Flip to those side of the world, and you actually have pickled cabbage, and that actually contains healthy bacteria as well.
Keep going back. Now you go to Asia and there's something called [Inaudible 00:43:23], which actually you find like in a Chinese restaurant, they'll put a little bit of these pickled vegetables at the beginning of a meal, also made with fermented bacteria.
And you know, what's also interesting is that we're discovering that even bread and cheese, which are made with bacteria, can be helpful.
In fact, I like to talk about there's this whole anti-carb thing out there. But as you pointed out yourself, it's not all or nothing with one thing. Foods are complicated.
And one bread that's really interesting is pumpernickel bread. You know that brown bread, it's made with rye flour, and the rye flour actually lowers a harmful bacteria that grows in the gut that actually releases a toxin that causes inflammation.
And so by eating rye flour bread, you can eventually lower that bacteria and lower inflammation. On the other hand, sourdough bread, some people really love sourdough bread, is made with a bacteria called lactobacillus reuteri.
Now, lactobacillus- lactic acid is actually what makes the sourdough bread tangy. That's a good part of the bread. That bacteria is normally found in the gut, our healthy gut, and it boosts our immune system, helps us do healing, and it actually communicates to our brain and prompts our brain to release the hormone, the social hormone oxytocin, which is the feel good hormone we get when we get a hug from somebody we love.
Shawn Stevenson: I love this so much because we're getting the whole story. You know, I haven't heard pumpernickel said in so long. When I hear it, that's like something in a Disney movie. Right? That's the bread a fairy would eat. Right? Pumpernickel.
And then we've got the sourdough as well, and understanding we've got this kind of fermented capacity to it and the ability to literally produce more oxytocin.
But being mindful, for some folks, that's not going to resonate with you. And for other folks, this can be a potentially healing food for you.
So again, just keeping our minds open, and looking at the research, and also testing things out, because one of the things you also encourage is for folks to try things, and go for the things that they enjoy, because you're giving them permission to eat the foods and some of the beverages that they enjoy as well, but just doing this a little bit more intelligently.
Dr. William Li: Right. Now my emphasis is on what you should add to your diet, not what you should eliminate or take away. Because you know, listen, human nature abhors deprivation. You know?
How many times have you heard it said, if you can't do something, your mind automatically says, "Well, maybe I should want to do it."
But on the other hand, also these deprivation diets are really difficult to stick to. And what we need to do is think about patterns that actually we can stick to our whole lives from the time we're kids to when we're really old.
We ought to be able to actually stick to something that we love. And so in my book, I show more than 200 foods; look through those foods, circle the ones you already like, and choose those next time you're going out to go shopping, or ordering from a restaurant, because then you're already ahead of the game because you're picking the things you already love.
Shawn Stevenson: Love it, love it, love it. One more thing I want to ask you about before we move on from the microbiome is the importance of- it's something that the microbiome does for us that we don't really talk a lot about, and this is producing these short-chain fatty acids. So can you please just give people a little bit information on that?
Dr. William Li: Right. So bacteria in our gut don't just sit there. They're pretty active. And they're also eating things and feeding themselves.
So think about like your goldfish in an aquarium, right? You drop some flakes in there and they go down into the goldfish, and the goldfish eat them up, and you see all these little particles that come out of the fish's mouth.
Well, that's exactly what the microbiome does. So when we feed them fiber, for example, soluble fiber, we're feeding the bacteria, the bacteria are eating these fibers, and they're creating little particles, little fragments from the fiber.
And some of these fragments are called short-chain fatty acids, or SCFAs. But they are not just crumbs that drop to the bottom of the aquarium. In fact, they actually dissolve right out of the gut, get into our bloodstream, and again, Mother Nature being very resourceful, has figured out these short-chain fatty acids.
What the bacteria cut up that fiber into actually can have a function. So it's anti-inflammatory, it's immune boosting, it could even be proangiogenic as well, as well as antiangiogenic.
There's different types and different sizes of these fragments. And so they're kind of invisible, but the bacteria know exactly how to make them.
Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. Awesome. So of these five defense systems, we've talked about angiogenesis, we've talked about regeneration via stem cells, the microbiome. Next up, you talk about DNA protection.
Dr. William Li: Right. So who hasn't heard about DNA, right? Www.ancestry.com, 23andMe, take a cheek swab, figure out who you're related to or what kind of risk you have. All very important, right?
The human genome? Well, we actually sequenced the human genome. That was like a milestone in human history. We finally sort of hacked into our genetics, they say.
Well, here's the other thing. Like we're always trying to be smart as scientists to figure out what's going on. But in fact, Mother Nature and evolution is a lot smarter than we can ever be.
And the DNA is not just the genetic code that makes proteins in our body, but in fact, it actually protects us against the environment.
What do I mean by that? Well look, anybody who's ever sat in traffic for a long time on a sunny day, you're getting sunshine pouring in through your windows.
Or you're out at the beach and you're not wearing enough sunscreen, you get ultraviolet radiation; DNA damage mutating your skin.
Anybody who's ever smelled secondhand smoke. I mean, I hope people don't smoke, but if they don't smoke, even if you smell it from somebody else, that's DNA damage. Just smelling that will damage your DNA and your lungs.
Or how many people fill up their car at a filling station. Right? Do you stand upwind or downwind of the hose? If you can smell that fuel, DNA damage.
The good news is that your body, the DNA, it knows how to protect itself. So it fixes itself, rebuilds itself, it caps itself off of the telomeres. It does a lot of things to protect itself.
You called it epigenetics, these are all mechanisms that really help us maintain our functionality of our DNA. And the great news is that foods can actually influence that process.
Shawn Stevenson: Let's talk about some foods that can do that.
Dr. William Li: Well, one of the foods that you talked about earlier, turmeric is actually a great DNA modifier.
So basically, turmeric can uncloak DNA that is useful, even cancer fighting DNA, to unleash the protective DNA to help fight cancer. And it can also cap some of the DNA that might actually not be so helpful as well.
And so that's one example of a spice that we can add to our food. Oh yeah, don't forget to add it with fresh cracked black pepper if you're actually using it for cooking. But those two ingredients are really important together.
But I want to tell you some things that are like not as well known, like for example, kiwi fruit. Right? Everybody who's seen a kiwi, it's like this monkey ball shaped thing, furry.
Cut it down the middle, open it up, it's got this bright green flesh, really juicy and sweet. It's packed with vitamin C and other vitamins, and there have been studies in humans, clinical studies in which they've actually taken young people and measured their blood at the beginning and looked at their DNA, how well it does, how well it can protect itself, and then they gave them one kiwi and they ate them, and they measured after a couple of days that eating that one kiwi can protect their DNA, increase it by 60%.
So you can just see one kiwi a day and it pops up your defense mechanisms. If you eat three kiwis a day, it helps your DNA rebuild itself. So it actually repairs itself.
So here's a simple lowly kiwi fruit, like I might have one for breakfast, for example, that can actually do a lot for you.
Shawn Stevenson: Wow. And shout out to New Zealand where kiwis originated, and we've got some great listeners there as well. When you said monkey ball, I almost laughed out loud. It's like there's a monkey ball looking thing?
So kiwis are something for us to add in protecting our DNA, but I would love if you talk a little bit about the telomeres. You know, this is something that I've highlighted several times in the show.
But now we've got even more data, and it's really remarkable because this might be the best biological marker we have for how long we're going to live potentially.
And our lifestyle, food choices can affect our telomeres, whether they get shortened, or whether we can activate telomerase and potentially throw some back.
Dr. William Li: Right. So think about your DNA like yarn. That's like a big string, a big lump, a big pile of yarn. You're going to wind that yarn up, right? So you wind it around something, and that's really what our chromosomes are.
Our DNA is wound up into these Xs and Ys that are packed inside our cells. That's really our genome packed into chromosomes.
And at the very end, you can imagine if you're winding up a ball of yarn, you've got to be able to get that yarn so it doesn't unravel to stick. And so you've got to put a cap on it.
The cap is the telomere. You know, physically it kind of looks like the plastic tip on the end of a shoelace. Kind of protects it and holds the thing to prevent from unraveling.
That protective cap on our DNA is part of our protection. Longer the telomere, longer we think we're going to live. Cellular aging. Shorter the telomere, the shorter these cells are going to live.
And so one of the big areas of research right now, by the way, this research led to the Nobel Prize a few years ago, is what can we actually do to lengthen our telomere?
So for those people that are sort of the Ponce de León people looking for the fountain of youth, everybody is looking for things that actually keep our telomeres longer.
Well, the answers are from research that I write about in my book might actually be already in our kitchens. So for example, coffee turns out to be a beverage that actually cannot just prevent our telomeres from burning down like a fuse, it actually can lengthen the telomeres as well.
So that's really quite an amazing thing that coffee can actually do that. But actually it's probably more dietary pattern, you know?
I mean, and people that have good dietary patterns tend to be generally healthier. They tend to exercise and sleep better and all that kind of stuff.
But the Mediterranean Diet is one of the best examples of a whole food, primarily plant-based diet with healthy oils, seafood, and relatively low red meat and minimal processed foods.
That combination tends to lengthen telomeres. And so that's really one of the amazing things. You know, I have a colleague, Dr. Dean Ornish. He and I worked together on looking at sort of healthy patterns of diets.
And we actually found, in fact, that healthy diets like the Mediterranean Diet not only actually lengthened telomeres, but also at the same time, again Mother Nature being very efficient, actually are also antiangiogenic that can protect you against cancer. So something that is good for the goose is probably good for the gander.
Shawn Stevenson: Yes, absolutely. And by the way, everybody, when he talked about that end cap on a shoelace, I was doing a talk for high school students, and this was maybe eight years ago.
And one of the students- and we were talking about telomeres, it was like a science conference thing. And one of the students was like, "Those are called aglets." I was like, "What? Is that real? Is that true? It has a name?" They're actually called aglets.
So telomeres are like aglets. And we all know what it's like when we don't have those at the end of our shoe strings, and they get frayed. It is like the worst thing. You like try to put some spit on it and twist it up. It's just terrible.
You don't want your DNA to unravel like that, you know? So thank you for sharing that. It's such a powerful thing, and we're just learning so much more about this. And I didn't know about this coffee thing. That's super remarkable.
Big shout-out to folks who are going for the good stuff. Alright? We're not getting the McCafe. We're getting some good organic, high quality coffee, and it can do a lot of benefit for you.
So we've covered four of the five defense systems, and there's one more, and I don't think any more is more important than this one as well. So let's talk about the immune system.
Dr. William Li: Right. So every grandmother has told their grandkids that you've got to protect your immune system, right? If you don't have a good immune system, you're going to get sick.
So we know that the immune system protects us against infection, but we now know that the immune system also protects us against cancer and other serious diseases as well, as we talked about a little bit earlier.
So what are some of the things that can activate the immune system besides drugs? I mean, there's a lot of things that can actually help our immune system, but food is really a pretty powerful way to enhance it.
We talked a little bit earlier about kimchi boosting our immune system through the microbiome. But there are foods that just can actually automatically boost our immune system by themselves.
One of them is mango. You know? I love mangoes. They're juicy, sweet, filled with fiber, they've got lots of vitamins, and they also have bioactives.
And I call a mango, by the way, a-
Shawn Stevenson: Stone fruit.
Dr. William Li: Mango is a stone fruit, but I call mangoes and stone fruit grand slammers of foods. These are foods, a whole table of foods I have in my book that all activate all five defense systems at the same time, including the immune system.
So you can slam it out of the park by eating these foods. Mango is one of my favorites. Tasty, juicy, sweet. You get vitamins, good minerals, and it actually contains these natural bioactives that actually can help boost your immune system.
But it's not just mangoes. You've got other things; broccoli sprouts. You know, some people talk about living foods, right? Those are the young sprouting foods that have all the nutrients and the energy when they're just young babies.
And later on when they get older, they get distributed- the energy on the whole bigger plant. Well, turns out that broccoli sprouts have been studied to- they can boost the immune system.
And in my book, I talk about a research study where they gave young people in their 20s the flu shot. Actually, it's not a shot, they gave a flu inhaler to protect them against the flu.
And it turns out that if they gave them also a couple of shots of broccoli sprouts made into a smoothie. That's it. Couple of shots of this a day, that you would actually improve the response like twenty times to the benefit protecting you against the flu. Boosts your immune system.
When they even swabbed their noses afterwards, where the flu virus might live, they were like almost all gone. And so again, this is an example of a food that can boost up the immune response that we want to have to protect ourselves.
So you know, you go to the doctor, you get a flu shot, but what about having a smoothie made with broccoli sprouts as well?
Final food I want to talk about is really mushrooms. So you know, some people love mushrooms, some people don't, but everybody should love them because, number one, they grow right from the ground, they suck up all those really nice nutrients from the ground.
If it's growing in clean ground, we've got to protect our earth and have a good planet so that our food is really safe. But inside the mushroom there is a natural compound called beta glucan.
Beta glucan that is found in the cap of the mushroom that we cut up and eat, and then stimulates the immune system directly.
But here's a real surprise. Regardless of whether it's a shiitake mushroom, a maitake mushroom, a portobello mushroom, or even the lowly white button mushroom. They're not expensive at all. You can find them anywhere.
But here is like a surprise, and I write about this in the book, the part of the food matters. So how many of us buy mushrooms and you cut off the tops and you're cooking with those, you take those stems, you just toss them out. I think most people do that. Not everybody.
But researchers have found that the stems called the stipe actually contains up to three times more beta glucan than the cap. Cap is good, stem is better. Next time you eat mushrooms, eat them both.
Shawn Stevenson: Wow, that's so cool because we actually- when we're making mushrooms, we use them as well. And it was just like, "There's got to be some good stuff in here," but now I know. That's so cool. So cool.
So again, there's a wealth of- I think you said 250 different foods?
Dr. William Li: 200-some foods. I've got more than 200 foods in there.
Shawn Stevenson: And it's just going to blow your mind, and to hear the research, and we could just geek out all day on this stuff. But there are a couple I've got to ask you about before I let you go, because this is where we get into a little bit of controversy. How much do we do? You know?
And I want to talk about- you've got red wine in here. What's going on with red wine? How does that make the cut?
Dr. William Li: Well, most of the studies involving public health looking at red wine have shown surprisingly that there's some benefits. Benefits your heart, lower risk of cancer, and other types of metabolic diseases as well.
But the reality is, is it's not the alcohol. It's never the alcohol that's actually the good stuff for you. I mean, alcohol might loosen up our nerves and make us feel a little bit better, but in fact, the good stuff that activates our health defenses came out of the grape skin.
And that's why red wine is red, is it extracted out that natural dye and all those other good things that come out of it. Same thing as beer, by the way.
The hops in the beer elaborate a natural chemical called xanthohumol, and that floats up right into the beer. So you know, there's actually benefits of beer, mobilizes your stem cells, actually is antiangiogenic as well.
Lots of good reasons, but it's not the alcohol. So what I would say is that this is an example of how research really allows us to peel the layers back to figure out why something that is beneficial and what is it?
Shawn Stevenson: I'm looking around. My team is all smiling after you said the beer thing. Eyes are lighting up. So in the book you mention a study that says that individuals who drink one and a half to two beers per day were found to have a 60% reduction in the risk of dementia.
Unbelievable, because we usually associate beer to messing up your brain, but it's that dose that's effective versus when we get into having too much alcohol.
And you even mention that as well. At high doses, it's a brain toxin. And this is the thing. If you're having a beer or two versus a 12-pack, the results are going to be radically different.
Dr. William Li: Right. I mean, the poison is always in the dose. I mean, you can poison yourself just by drinking water. There's water toxicity. And so one of the things that I emphasize in my book is it's important to have moderation.
The human body wasn't intended, wasn't built to be stuffed. You know? You go to a buffet line, you can eat anything you want, as much as you want.
My recommendation is take only about a third of what your brain tells you to take and put it on your plate. Enjoy what you're eating. Choose the right things and lean into the foods that you love.
Shawn Stevenson: Perfect. Perfect. I'm going to ask you about one more, because I'm a huge fan of this, and I've even recently gotten more into the green teas.
Because I'm a big fan of like mushroom elixirs, and teas, and Yerba Mate, and even black teas. But I've been getting more into like the matcha lately. I've been really digging that.
And so one of the things you talk about is EGCG being one of those really powerful nutrients that we find in sources like green tea.
Dr. William Li: So the tea plant, which grows in a bush, is picked a couple of times a year in places that actually have tea. Tea doesn't grow in bags on a plant. It comes as little leaves and there are people that pick these leaves and they dry them out in the sun.
And then in the case of the matcha, they grind them into a powder, so in fact, you're drinking the whole leaf, which is why it's more potent.
But if you're just brewing the tea, it's the leaf that kind of sticks around inside the tea bag, or sits at the bottom of the cup. I just drink tea with leaves- with whole leaves, and all the good stuff kind of is coaxed out of the tea leaf or out of the powder into the liquid, which we then drink.
So EGCG is one of hundreds of natural compounds, natural chemicals that are found in tea leaves. But it seems to be one of the most potent. It's certainly been the most researched.
It inhibits angiogenesis, it helps protect our blood vessels in the heart from heart disease, it might actually lower our blood pressure, protect us against high cholesterol in the blood, probably coaxes out stem cells as well.
A lot of reasons to love green tea. Here's the surprise, and I write about in my book. I found it was surprising myself. I'm glad you mentioned matcha.
Turns out that matcha and probably the high levels of EGCG in matcha actually can kill cancer stem cells. So while most of the stem cells we have are good and help regenerate our cells, when a cancer grows, they also have their own stem cells, and those stem cells keep that cancer coming back. Right?
Those are really deadly. That's the Holy Grail of cancer research, is trying to find a way to kill those cancer stem cells.
Just this past year, researchers found that matcha and the ECGC in it can kill the cancer stem cells in breast cancer. So another reason to like matcha.
Shawn Stevenson: So remarkable, so remarkable. Dr. Li, this book is just out of this world and so are you. And if you could, I know in the book you've got your five by five by five framework. You've got so many other little insights and tips for people.
But for everybody listening, what is something that you want to make sure that you let them know about 'Eat to Beat Disease,' and why everybody should have this book in their hands?
Dr. William Li: I have one very simple take home message from reading my book, is that you can now focus your efforts on figuring out what to add to your diet. More good things you add in, you've got less room for bad things.
And you know, we're all human. Life's not perfect. We can't always eat all the things that we know are good for us. But if you have more stuff that's good for you, you'll kind of hip check out the things that are not so good for you.
And on the balance, that's what health is all about, it's all about a balance. When I have more good than the bad, and then we're actually going to be in the kind of shape that we want. It's not about extremes, it's about reasonableness.
And so this is an entirely new way to think about our health. And so, you can buy my book 'Eat to Beat Disease' anywhere that books are sold.
And I'm actually posting stuff all the time on social. So it's @DrWilliamLi. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. And what I really would love to have people do is to come sign up and join my community on my website, and then I can update you personally.
And it's www.DrWilliamLi.com. And I'm just going to come up with new recipes and new ideas for people. This science is like pounding out. And so I put everything I possibly could in the book, but then you've got to send it to the printers and print the book. And so it's ongoing stuff that's coming out and you can get it on my website.
Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. And it's so exciting, and I'm just so excited to have had you on the show. And thank you for sharing your wisdom with everybody. This has been a real treat. Thank you so very much.
Dr. William Li: Shawn, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you for having me on, and would love to keep having this conversation.
Shawn Stevenson: Definitely, we're going to keep it coming. Everybody, thank you for tuning into to the show today. I hope you got a lot of value out of this episode.
This stuff blows my mind and I'm truly, truly loving this book and the message behind it because it's really having this complete message about healthcare.
Right? We've got incredible systems for emergency care, and surgeries, and drugs that can be lifesaving. But that's not our only tool, right?
But the way that the system is currently set up, and things are changing very, very quickly now, is that if you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So let's just throw a drug at it, or let's throw a conventional treatment at it.
When the reality is we have access to so many different things that we need to have in our own superhero utility belt to take care of ourselves and the people that we care about. Alright?
So we're going to see this shift continue to happen where we're looking at food as medicine, because it truly is. And as I started the show, a lot of medicines are derived from foods and from fungi.
And this is an absolute wealth of possibility for us. And now we get the real good launching pad from Dr. Li in his research into this world, and really understanding the power that food really does have.
So definitely check out the book and share this episode out on social media. Alight? Share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Tag me, tag Dr. Li, let him know what you thought about the episode. I'm sure that he'd be pumped to hear from you.
And listen, we've got some incredible episodes coming your way as well. So make sure to be ready and stay tuned. Take care. Have an amazing day. I'll talk with you soon.
And for more after the show, make sure to head over to www.TheModelHealthShow.com. That's where you can find all of the show notes, you can find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you've got a comment you can leave me a comment there as well.
And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much.
And take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.
HEALTHY MEALS EVERYONE WILL LOVE
The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Family is Health
When you gather your family around the table to share nutritious food, you’re not only spending quality time with them - you’re setting them up for success in all areas of their lives.
The Eat Smarter Family Cookbook is filled with 100 delicious recipes, plus the latest science to support the mental, physical and social health of your loved ones.