Monthly Archives: February 2016

Africa Study Abroad Internship Profile (Ashton)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a summer study abroad program that incorporates academic excellence with social change. Overall, this opportunity offers classes for students to take with UNC professors while he or she can simultaneously intern with varying organizations that aim to improve social and demographic atmospheres.

In regards to the background on this program, this study abroad internship will take place during the fall session of the 2016-2017 school year in Cape Town, Africa. No more than twenty students will be selected to engage in this study abroad opportunity. The process involves an application and a series of essays portraying one’s passion for social work. Over the course of the term, students will be placed into two separate internships, ranging from social work in elementary schools to social work in world-class hospitals. In terms of social work, students will work with administration in order to provide a safe environment for patients or students. The goal is to create a democratic environment, meaning the students or patients will have a voice in the decisions that affect them. Though this program is technically “honors Carolina,” one can apply even if they are not considered “honors.” Instead the student will simply receive honors credit after completion of the term.

Personally, I have an interest in this program because of the incorporation of the health care system in Cape Town. This characteristic element of the program motivated my interest to apply. I am a current freshman at UNC who is aiming to pursue a degree in Health Policy and Management. Overall, this major will allow an abundance of opportunities regarding job selection. At the same time, I am also Pre Med. This being said, I am hoping to pursue a career either practicing medicine or implementing health care reform.

I feel that I would be a great candidate for this internship because I have a passion for making sure patients receive the proper care that they need, whether this be financially or medically. This internship perfectly incorporates the two needs of patients in an extremely diverse city. Overall, I am confident in the role I could play in this wonderful opportunity.

Doctors Without Borders Internship Profile (Sonya)

           Doctors Without Borders/MSF is an organization dedicated to aiding people worldwide where the need is greatest; workers, volunteers, and interns deliver emergency medical aid to those affected by conflicts, epidemics, disasters, and/or exclusion from health care. One recent campaign operated within the organization, the Access Campaign advocates the importance of international access to essential medicines in the hope of achieving sustainable solutions to reduce price of medicines and to stimulate research on diseases that primarily affect less developed countries.

             Of the many office internships offered, “Access HIV and Tuberculosis Policy Intern” interests me the most. The summer internship starts on May 31 to August 12 and the application is due April 18, 2016. Accepted interns will work 20 hours per week.

             The HIV and TB Access Policy Intern will be supporting the campaign’s activities and enhancing efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of HIV and TB services. Specifically, I will be expected to convene conference calls of working groups and assist with preparation, note taking, and distribution of key documents. Also, I will be drafting letters to policymakers and global health actors and will be assisting the HIV Policy Advisor with conducting research, collecting information, and maintaining a database on essential information related to HIV and TB national policies; assisting the Policy Advisor in convening internal and external meeting and assisting him/her with writing memos will also be a part of my duty. Furthermore, I will be collecting and distributing general information relevant to current Access topics, conferences, advocacy targets, and related NGOs and will be tracking the campaign on media; keeping the calendars of major global health meetings and conferences up to date is also my work. All of these work must be done while providing general administrative support and maintaining a database of key literature and references.

             While the internship does not require any particular academic credentials or any form of post-internship presentation, the office strongly prefers candidates with knowledge and interest in global health, including HIV and TB. Those with a sharp focus on HIV/AIDS and TB policy advocacy and on the disparity of access to crucial health care around the world will find this internship ideal. Only a resume and cover letter are to be submitted via email; letters of recommendation and personal statements are unnecessary and there is no separate application questionnaire.

             Through this internship program, I will gain practical work experience in the field of my interest and will support the organization’s work in various departments of communications, development, program, human resources, etc. Additionally, I will be given a basic yet first-hand introduction to the field of international medical humanitarian aid and advocacy. My knowledge – of global health actors, legislative processes, pharmaceutical research, and limited access and affordability to health care – will advance as well. As I plan on working with a NGO in an underdeveloped country in the future, I find this internship especially helpful.

             However, since a significant number of MSF’s missions are based in French-speaking countries, ability to speak French is highly valued (they say it is “not essential” but “highly desirable”). I think this linguistic standard somewhat limits some candidates from experiencing the whole spectrum of their mission, and Yes, I lack in this aspect.

             All office interns are paid $10 per hour. Even though there are no other costs or fees for participation, I am in charge of my own housing and accommodation in New York City, where the main office is located.

(The font changed as I copied and pasted it, and I don’t know how to change it into a normal “paragraph” font..)

UNC Administrative Internship Program

The UNC Health Care’s Administrative internship Program (AIP) is completed at the UNC hospital and the mission of AIP is to expose students interested in public health to real life health care experiences and to modern health care delivery practices. The internship lasts exactly 12 weeks and one can start the internship in either May or June. The hours per week were not listed, however this internship is very formal and I think the hours would be the same day and same time every week.

During this internship, I would be involved in different work projects, attend weekly “learning series”, communicate with my mentor, and complete an end of summer presentation. In past years, interns’ projects have focused on topics such as patient relations (patient satisfaction analysis), preparation of a Medicare cost report, and profit/loss analysis and business line development. Through this internship, I will gain an understanding of how a teaching hospital operates by working with different departments in the hospital.

The requirements are that I am an under-grad or grad student, I have completed at least one semester of college, I am legally eligible for employment in the US, and that I have a 3.0 GPA or higher. The application for the internship was online, but the application is no longer available because the internship deadline passed in early January. I believe the application would require at least one letter of recommendation and at least one essay question. However, I recently emailed and will find out the specific details of the application process soon.

The strengths of this internship are that it is directly related to my future career path, it is paid, and it could most likely give me an EE credit. The weaknesses are that it is located in Chapel Hill, so I would probably have to commute everyday and that the deadline for the internship already passed. The costs of the internship would mostly come from gas money and parking.

Even with these weaknesses, this internship would be very beneficial. So I plan to apply for the internship next year. This internship occurs at UNC, so I would get to observe a variety of different medical practices at a reputable hospital. Also, I think this internship would look extremely good on my resume, especially since I am considering a career in this field. I am particularly interested in public health and I want to apply to the Gillings School of Public Health next year. I plan on applying to the Biostatistics major at the School of Public Health. Biostatistics involves statistical analysis of large amounts of data. After reviewing topics past interns did projects on, I feel like this job does include some statistical analysis, which is very relevant to my interests. While this job is only an administrative position, I still think it would benefit me since the internship comes in direct contact with public health and public policy.

Emory Healthcare Hospital Summer Internship Program

The internship that I am looking to apply to is the Emory Healthcare Hospital Summer Internship Program. This is a formalized program that has exact guidelines and protocol for how the program is completed. The time commitment for this program is 10-12 weeks in the summer that would begin in early June and continues through mid-August. I would be working full-time during the week through the whole summer.

The main goal of the internship is working on project-based work throughout out the summer that will be formally presented at the end of the summer to the hospitals’ executive leadership team. Other work activities include attending senior leadership meetings and “lunch and learns” with current administrative fellows in order to gain more knowledge and experience about the hospital interactions and systems. Through this internship, I would gain exposure to hospital operations and leadership through the project-based work, and I would also be exposed to the other hospitals within the Atlanta hospital system.

This program has many strengths due to its high credibility at a premier hospital in Atlanta. The resources available to me as an intern would be incredibly invaluable to me as a pre-medical student. I would gain a lot of experience within a hospital setting, and the learning experience would be incredible to put on my resume. The weaknesses to choosing this internship would be the level of competitiveness for being accepted into the internship program. Plus, the hours/time commitment is extensive for the summer internship.

As part of being in the summer internship program, I would be paid. The exact pay per hour would be determined at the beginning of the summer by the Program Manager and Executive Leader. The pay is mainly based on level of education, undergraduate or graduate. The current rate for undergraduates is $10 per hour ($15 per hour for graduate). Housing is not offered as part of this compensation for the internship. However, because I live in Atlanta, this will not be an issue, and I will commute from home every day for the internship.

As for the actual application and requirements, minimal exist actually. The application itself is submitting your current resume in PDF format, a cover letter addressing my interest in healthcare in PDF format, and my undergraduate transcript (can be unofficial) to the Program Manager, Ameenay Khan, through email as listed on the website by February 12th, 2016. I hope to apply for this internship either the summer of 2017 or 2018 because I have already passed the due date for this summer. If I make it to the second round of the application process, then I will go through a phone interview, and I would be notified of my status by April 1st, 2016 (if I could have applied this year). There are no specific academic requirements; however, the website states that the program is “aimed at highly motivated individuals who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate level program and are interested in pursuing a career in health care”.

I would love to hopefully one summer actually do this internship. My plan is to apply next summer in 2017, and if I don’t get in, then I will reapply for the following summer in 2018.

Profile and Evaluation of the Administrative Internship at UNC Hospitals

In order to familiarize students with medical practices and expose them to the atmosphere of modern health care, UNC Health Care offers the opportunity to work as an Administrative Intern at UNC Hospitals in the summer.

The internship lasts the entirety of the summer (12 weeks), starting in late May or early June and ending in late August.  It is considered to be fulltime employment with regular working hours, which I assume would be from 9-5pm five days a week (40 hour work week).

As interns, students will get the opportunity to experience the day-to-day of hospital life, learning job skills as well as the nuances of hospital work.  Interns will work in departments within the UNC hospitals in which they have a specific career interest, performing analytical work and observing clinical procedures for data collection and analysis.  As part of the program, interns will meet with mentors and their fellow interns every week to learn from each other, discussing responses to certain medical scenarios.  Cumulative experiences and data collection in an intern’s specific department will result in an end-of-summer presentation.  This presentation is aimed to report trends observed in health care that can lead to future improvement or development of new research.

To be eligible to apply for the Administrative Internship, students must be currently pursuing or have recently finished a degree in undergraduate or graduate studies, and have completed a minimum of one semester of classes of either of these programs.  Interns are also expected to be of good academic standing, therefore applicants are required to have a cumulative 3.0 GPA or greater.  Being legally eligible for work in the US is a requirement as well, as the internship is considered to be a full-time job.  The application for the internship requires a cover letter, resume and a specific cover sheet available on the application website.

As a pre-med student at Chapel Hill considering the field of emergency medicine, this internship program would be incredibly beneficial to my future career, as it would provide the opportunity for me to gain experiential learning in a hospital setting.  In addition to my enjoying observing the behind-the-scenes of medicine, such an opportunity is invaluable on medical school applications.  The fact that this internship is at UNC Hospitals is also a bonus, as this hospital system is ahead of the game in medical research and patient care and is one of the strongest teaching hospitals in the nation.

As for drawbacks of attending the program, there are few and only consist of financial and logistical issues.  While the internship is paid as if it were a full-time job, room and board, transportation and food is not covered, and so enrolling in the program may not be a financially sound investment.  However, despite these potential minor financial drawbacks, I believe this internship to be a good investment of my time and will by no means pass it over.


Keenan Cromshaw profile for internship

I have found a potential volunteer and/or shadowing opportunity at the New Hanover Regional Medical center in my hometown of Wilmington, NC. I still have yet to get a lot more info on these potential opportunities and there could be a chance of getting an internship in the future as I talk more with the hospital administrators. Since I don’t have a lot of info about these volunteer, shadowing, and intern opportunities I will write about what I know and what I’d like in this internship.

In this potential internship, I would be able to work beginning about May 12th until about the second week of August. I could work about 30 hours per week during this time. I would prefer to work in the emergency department performing duties that will help to gain experience and knowledge about emergency department professions. I would also greatly benefit from shadowing doctors, PA’s, and nurses in the hospital in order to gain a better understanding of daily life and the benefits/drawbacks of their professions.

Since the hospital is very close to my home, I will not need to worry about room and board. Money, of course, is preferable, but certainly not a requirement as I just want experience and new knowledge about the medical professions in this internship.

Profile- The Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute

The University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA is providing a program this summer through The Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute. The program provides around eight students to conduct cutting edge research related to environmental and health aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The students are given the opportunity to work under a faculty member, who will serve as a mentor. The departments the mentors are from include Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, and Pharmacy.

The program runs from May 31st, 2016 though July 29th, 2016 and is a full-time research opportunity. The students will engage in daily research that is interdisciplinary in cutting-edge research topics. There are many projects that correlate to what the student wishes to study and what mentor they have. Examples of research topics include fabrication and optimization of nanomaterial-enabled technologies for point of use water treatment conducted under associate professor David Cwierty. Another research topic includes applications of nanoparticles in drug delivery to the lungs under assistant professor Jennifer Fiege.

Each week the students will attend weekly seminars on topics related to the research. They will also attend a technical communication workshop to improve skills on writing in research and giving presentations. There will also fun social events on the weekends for the students to engage in. Finally, at the end of the program the students will present posters of their research project in a campus-wide conference sponsored by the UI Graduate College.

In order to be eligible for this program, the student must have completed at least one year of college and will be returning for at least one year of undergraduate study before graduation. It is exclusively for students majoring in chemistry, physics, engineering (chemical and biochemical or environmental preferred), pharmaceutics, or occupational and environmental health. The student must also be thinking about or pursing graduate school and a career in research. They also must be permanent citizens of the United States.

The online application must be fully completed online by March 1st. In addition to the application, the student must provide their college transcript and two letters of recommendation from science professor and/or mentors. The student must finally add a short essay of personal statement on why they are interested in extensive summer research. It should talk about their interests in the science field and which mentor they are most intrigued to study under. In this section, they can also include any explanations of classwork or experience to help the application reviewer.

The program, overall, includes my career interests. It allows me to explore full-time research and this will help me decide what I want to do after undergraduate. It provides a stipend of $ 4,500, includes housing and meals, and also provides some funds for travel. It is a competitive program and the application is due soon, however, it is exactly what I am looking to do this summer.

Sheeran Lab Research Position Summary

One program that I found that I was interested in is a research assistant position at Sheeran lab on UNC campus. This lab is a psychology lab that allows undergraduate students to apply for positions as assistant to work and assist in the lab for however many semesters they would like.

The application process, firstly requires the interested party to send an email to inquire about the position and include a resume; next they conduct interviews with the interested applicants, and then they chose from the pool of candidates, who will get the positions. They did not indicate how many positions were open.

They do not require letters of recommendation, personal essays or cover letters, and have no formal application, entrance essays or application questions. They also do not require any prerequisite classes, but you can get this position without interview if you are in Psych 231 research class for an EE credit. They did require applicants have a GPA of 3.2 or above at UNC, and be in good academic standing. Once you have gotten the position they do require HIPAA training.

The lab’s current mission is to determine relationship between personality and consumer habits, however it is stated that the full intent of the experiment is not to be disclosed until the completion of the experiment in order to avoid skewed results from bias, and other confounding factors. The lab is testing the collected data certain fitness bracelet that is a pedometer and accelerometer, and it’s correlation with the results of respective peoples’ personality tests. The experiment is double blind so neither the participants nor the administers are aware of the full purpose of the experiment or what is it testing specifically.

The research assistant’s responsibility is to run participants for current experiment. This job requires the participant to read a script to the people who are testing the experimental product, to configure a test product using a computer software, to and collect data from the trial run via computer program. The lab requires seven hours/week (4 in lab running participants, 3 at home organizing data on the computer). The position said it would work around the RA’s class/work schedule, and you can schedule your weekly hours to come in to the lab, at the beginning of the semester.

The strength of this program is that is can count for an EE credit. It also involves my future career interest of psychology. It is easy to apply and they get back to you quickly about whether or not you have gotten the position. Also, once you have gotten the position you can continue to be a lab assistant for as many semester as you would like without the need to reapply. What I would get out of this program is research experience, in order to work in other research labs as well as give me an idea of how carry out my own research in the future. It will also give me the networking connections with Dr. Sheeran and the lab coordinators in order to get future opportunities in different labs or to work in the lab for research proposals I would like to start on my own. There is no presentation at the end or post-internship presentations.

The weakness of this program is that it is in its final stretches and I might not be able to be as active as research assistants who applied earlier in the semester, however the lab starts a new experiment almost every semester.

There are no room/board/transportation cost, since it is on the UNC campus. There is also no stipend; it is an unpaid, volunteer position.

Printers Saves Lives: One Structure at a Time.

3D heart

3d printed heart model

TaVon Cates

Did you know that on average, 21 people die every day waiting on an organ transplant? According to the American Transplant Foundation, there is more than 123,000 people in the United States currently waiting on an organ transplant to save their lives and someone is added to that list every 12 minutes!

The American Transplant Foundation also says that over 6,500 people die every year waiting on the organ transplant. Many people are organ donors, but a lot of their organs are not donated until after they are dead. Now with the average life expectancy at almost 80 years, help comes either too late or not at all for many people.

The increasing in technology in the modern age may have a solution for this. A technique that has been around for quite some time and the uses are ever changing, 3-Dimensional printing.

Burger and fries

Here we see a 3D Printed Burger and Fries.

3D printing is a technique in which objects are constructed from digital data. It almost like a regular printer, except it prints in layers and takes a little longer than an average printer. Many scientists are taking this technique into the medical field.

With the help of 3D printing, 3D printed organs have become a reality. However, because this technology is relatively new in the field, there are still a few kinks being worked out.

3D printing has been especially helpful for cardiologists, especially those dealing with congenital heart disease. 3D printing has helped to produce accurately printed, realistic, 3D hearts. These 3D models can help increase procedural efficiency because cardiologist would be able to have a model of the patients’ heart to examine and “operate” on before the actual procedure takes place. This procedure will also increase patient safety because the doctors would have already done the procedure before.

One instance of this procedure being used would be the case of four month old Lucy. She suffered from heart failure, which starved her Kidney’s. Her father offered to donate his Kidney so she wouldn’t have to be on dialysis for the rest of her life.


The top left is Lucys’ father Kidney with actual living cells.

Doctors made a 3D model of both Lucy’s abdomen as well as her fathers’ kidney. With these, they made it clear to Lucy’s parents how such a large kidney would fit into such a small child. After doing the procedure on the 3D models, they were able to successfully transplant the Kidney into Lucy and change her life.

Another one of these life changing operations was done on four year old Mia. Her early childhood was filled would numerous bouts of colds, pneumonia, shortness of breath, etc. She wasn’t able to do many of the things that she loved such as dance. It was dismissed as asthma and she was prescribed asthma medications.

It took nearly 10 hospital stays for doctors to realize that the cause was much worse. They found that her aorta, the vessel that carries blood from the heart, and was pushing against the windpipe, which caused the shortness of breath and made it hard to swallow.

They were able to save her life because the hospital had recently gotten a 3D printer that makes EXACT replicas of organs. They saw the malformed aorta in the model and was able to ponder how they would fix the problem and do practice operations without actually harming the four year old.

Dr. Burke, the leading doctor, said that without the 3D replica, he would not have been as confident operating on Mia. He says that without the replica, the healing time as well as the pain and the experience for Mia would have been much worse.

One case study on the topic would be the Russian 3D printing company, 3D bioprinting solutions. The company has made an amazing advancement in 3D printing organs for transplants. In March of 2015, the company reported having made a working 3D model of a thyroid gland of a mouse. The replicated thyroid gland was able to carry out all of the functions that a regular thyroid gland would.

In November of 2015, the same company proudly announced that they had successfully transplanted the working thyroid gland into a live mouse and the mouse lived with no complications from the organ or the procedure.

This is a big accomplishment because regular thyroid transplants are not normally done because of all the complications that could come from the surgery such as infection. 3D organs are ideal for transplants because they are made up of the organism’s cells, therefore it has a much lower chance of being rejected by the body.

Organs are not the only thing that is able to be implanted thanks to 3D printing. Two men who suffered from cancer lives’ were changed thanks to 3D printing. One needed a sternum (chest plate) as well as a rib cage. Doctors were able to create a sternum and rib cage that exactly matched his anatomy through 3D printing. The second man lost half of his pelvis to cancer and was able to get a replica transplanted to complete the other half.


The 3D printed medal rib cage and sternum before and after transplanted into the patient.

21 people die every day because they cannot get the transplant they need to save their life. You have read about numerous people whose lives have been saved and changed thanks to 3D printing. The technology is still relatively new, so as it progresses and advances, tens of people will not lose their lives every day waiting on an organ or bone structure.

Why Dark Chocolate?


       Photo by Steve Miller on February 1, 2015

Ashton Harris

Love is in the air.

With Valentines Day quickly approaching, I find myself surrounded by an abundance of red roses, cheesy greeting cards, and ginormous teddy bears (honestly, who buys those anyways?) But probably the most characteristic component of Valentine’s Day is the isles upon isles of chocolate in your local grocery store.

While walking through one of the multiple isles solely composed of chocolate, I find myself going through the same thought process every year.

“Is this chocolate going to make me gain weight?”

“Is chocolate really THAT bad for you?”

“Check the nutrition facts. How many calories are even in this?”

This overanalyzation of nutrition facts during a universal holiday can be related to today’s fascination with health and wellness. Think about it, how many people do you know that own a personal fitness device? How many constantly check to see the number of steps they have reached or how many stairs they have climbed?

Sure, one could argue that this may have to do with an interest in technological advancements, but if that is true, wouldn’t nearly everyone own a hoverboard?

Here’s the thing, unlike the hoverboard craze, nutrition does not “attach” itself to any age group. Instead, nutrition is universal. You could see a sixteen year old and a seventy-year-old American citizen both wearing the same FitBit, performing the same function. With this in mind, if any food, especially if it is as satisfying as dark chocolate, is claimed as “healthy,” chances are everyone will be talking about this sooner than later. And in fact, that has been the case with dark chocolate.

The health benefits of dark chocolate are all rooted in a high concentration of cacao in comparison to other forms of chocolate. In lay mans terms, the higher the percentage of cacao, the more natural the chocolate.

Cacao originates from the cacao fruit tree, also know as the Theobroma Cacao. This certain tree produces cacao pods. When these pods are split open, hundreds of cacao beans pour out. Overall, the cacao beans are at the root of every dark chocolate recipe. Whether the beans are turned into a paste or a powder, the taste and texture of these products will resemble dark chocolate.


     Cacao pods on Theobroma Cacao; Minipedia

On the other hand, when milk chocolate is made, cacao is manipulated structurally and chemically in order to create a higher percentage of cocoa, which is probably the more familiar form of chocolate. When cocoa is made, cacao undergoes a heating process, which breaks the bonds within the substance in order to alter the shape to produce cocoa.

Milk chocolate, the most popular form of chocolate, is not only heated but also processed with an alkalized solution in order to change the overall taste; the chocolate becomes much less acidic and much richer in taste.

Overall, if you are really craving dark chocolate, the only place you need to look is on the branches of a Theobroma Cacao tree. But you might have to wait a few hours for you milk chocolate to be heated and alkalized. Sounds delicious, right?

So is it true that the more natural the chocolate, the “healthier” it is?

The main factor that would explain this statement is the presence of flavonoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate; the high cocoa content in dark chocolate results in high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants.

Flavonoids function to reduce platelet activation and create a cardiovascular mechanism called the French Paradox, which means that a population has a low rate of cardiorespiratory complications with a high sugar diet.

On the other hand, antioxidants slow down or prevent the oxidation of other molecules within the body. When molecules in the body oxidize, they create cellular by-products, called free radicals, which are highly unstable. In order to gain stability, free radicals attack healthy cells. This then causes healthy, or normal, cells to act in a very similar way by attacking others in an attempt to gain stability.

Overall, both flavonoids and antioxidants should lead to an improved and efficient physiological system in the human body.

In regards to flavonoid function, the Association of Operating Room Nurses performed a study in 2003 to prove the assumption that the flavonoids in dark chocolate result in improved vascular function. In this experiment, participants’ blood was tested before and after consumption of a variety of chocolate, including white, dark, and milk chocolate. The results of the study evidenced that white chocolate did not reduce platelet activity while milk chocolate slightly reduced platelet activity, but did not reduce platelet production. On the other hand, after the consumption of dark chocolate, the participants’ blood showed reduced platelet production and activity.

In summary, white and milk chocolate artificially produce platelets, which can lead to unnecessary blood clots, such as those in the arteries of the heart. However, since dark chocolate limits platelet production, the formation of unnecessary blood clots is greatly reduced, therefore improving the cardiovascular system.

On the other hand, Louisiana State University professor, John Finely, performed an experiment in 2014 to demonstrate the idea that the presence of antioxidants in dark chocolate benefits the physiology of the human body. In this experiment, his students recreated an artificial human digestive system in order to visually observe the effects of cacao.

The human digestive system contains a variety of micro-bacteria that aid in digestion by breaking down food particles. When food is broken down, energy is created so that the body may perform certain processes that require energy.

Initially, Finely explains that the micro-bacteria in our digestive tract ferments the antioxidants in cacao, therefore allowing the bacteria to properly create energy, without the interference of free radicals. Before conducting this experiment, Finely was aware that the composition of bacteria varies in each individuals’ digestive tract, so some results could be more beneficial than others.

After observing the effects of cacao on the digestive system, Finley noticed that the digestive tracts exposed to cacao expressed an increase in insulin sensitivity.

In regards to a background on insulin, this hormone is used to signal liver cells to absorb sugars, such as glucose, in order to decrease blood sugar levels. When one is diabetic, he or she has trouble producing insulin, so blood sugar levels are relatively high.


   Diagram explaining how insulin stimulates cells to intake  sugar; Pearson Biology

But what does “insulin sensitivity” mean?

Insulin sensitivity has to do with how well a body responds to insulin. Those that are highly insulin sensitive require very little insulin to store sugar. On the other hand, those that have low insulin sensitivity, typically diabetics, require greater amounts of insulin for cells to intake certain sugars.

Finley’s observations portrayed the relationship between high insulin sensitivity and cacao, which means that the ingestion of cacao could then result in a delay or prevention of being diagnosed with diabetes. Overall, the ability of cells to readily absorb sugar can be related to the high levels of antioxidants in cacao, which reduce the presence of free radicals.

However, though dark chocolate proves to benefit the physiology of the human body, it is important to enforce proper portion control.

For instance, too many flavonoids could result in a complete absence of platelets. This means that when your body requires the formation of blood clots, such as a scab on a small cut, the platelets will not be available to the affected area.

On the other hand, too many antioxidants can result in the disappearance of free radical cells. At first, this may seem to be a good quality for the body to possess. However, free radicals force the body’s immune system to adjust to and fight against these foreign invaders; this can therefore speed up the immune system response the next time it is introduced to a certain free radical cell.

In conclusion, when you are at Walmart on Valentine’s Day, go for it! Splurge and buy some dark chocolate, now knowing the benefits that tag along!

But always remember, too much of a good thing CAN be bad for you.