Waste Not, Want Not: The Costly Aftermath of Michigan’s Raid on Nourish Cooperative

By: Ashley Armstrong

  • Nourish Cooperative was raided on May 28, 2024, leading to a cease and desist order on $90,000 worth of raw dairy products by the state of Michigan

  • The seized products, including raw cow kefir and raw goat yogurt, were left in fridges and freezers for over two weeks, causing spoilage and storage issues

  • On June 8, Nourish Cooperative requested permission from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to remove the spoiled products from their fridges. MDARD inspectors arrived on June 13 to oversee the disposal of the raw dairy products, but denied requests to repurpose the products for personal use or animal feed

  • The disposal process involved removing lids, boxing the products, and transporting over 25 large cardboard boxes to a dumpster, resulting in significant waste

  • Nourish Cooperative has had to stop selling all raw dairy products except raw cheese, but continues to sell other farm products like grass fed meats and raw honey. You can support the cooperative with donations and/or by contacting MDARD to advocate for the sale of their products

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This is a follow-up report from the government raid at Nourish Cooperative (which is a farm cooperative that provides farm-fresh food) on May 28, 2024. Link to full story posted last week, here.

Briefly, on May 28, 2024 (the beginning of the nationwide fearmongering around avian influenza in raw milk), Nourish Cooperative was raided, and over $90,000 worth of raw dairy products were put under “cease and desist” order by the state of Michigan.

Meaning, all of that nutrient-dense food was “under seizure,” just sitting in our fridge and freezers. For over two weeks.

It is pretty expensive to just pay energy bills to keep products in fridges and freezers that we can’t sell. Plus, we do not have endless fridge and freezer space to put new product in (that we are able to sell like raw aged cheese and meat).

So, on June 8, after it was pretty clear the government was not going to let us sell this product, we emailed MDARD (Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) asking if we can please remove this product from the fridge. We needed the space, and well, product was starting to sour, and kefir glass bottles were starting to explode. (That is to be expected as kefir continues to ferment, more and more gas is created). The fridge needed to be cleaned out ASAP!

brandon embree email

Email asking MDARD if they can please let us remove product from the fridge on June 8 so that Nourish Cooperative could continue to stock new products that we are allowed to sell.

Six days later, on Thursday June 13, MDARD finally was able to get two inspectors to our property to witness the product disposal (after several email requests — business must go on!) Hilary and the other inspector, Christopher, the lead feed inspector at MDARD, showed up to the farm around 2:30 pm ET. Their job was to witness the destruction of raw dairy products in our fridges.

We asked Christopher and Hilary whether we could keep some of the product for personal use and dump the rest into a large bin so that we could feed it to our animals. They called an unknown connection at MDARD, who denied this request. There was no reason provided.

The product had to be thrown in the dumpster. But as government employees, they can’t throw anything away. So, they forced US to do it. The first step was to get a count on all the products in the fridge under seizure, to ensure that none of the products had been used or sold since their last visit. All products were removed from the fridge and then counted. The pet food supplement products included:

  • Raw cow kefir

  • Raw cow cream

  • Raw cow Greek yogurt

  • Raw cow maple Greek yogurt

  • Raw cow vanilla Greek yogurt

  • Raw goat kefir

  • Raw goat yogurt

  • Raw sheep kefir

  • Raw sheep yogurt

  • Lightly pasteurized cow skyr yogurt

Once all products were accounted for, it was time to discard them in the dumpster. And we couldn’t just put the jars in the dumpster, the required process involved taking off all lids of each product, throwing the lids away, stacking the products into cardboard boxes, and then utilizing the tractor forks to move over 25 large cardboard boxes to the dumpster.

The lids were removed from the jars to ensure the product would spill into the dumpster, and thus not be able to be picked out afterwards and utilized. The glass shattering would’ve taken care of this, regardless, as that created quite a safety hazard.

disposed farm fresh food into a dumpster

Once all the products had been discarded, Christopher documented a few pictures of the dumpster and Hilary recommended we “ask the dumpster service to come sooner otherwise it may start to really smell here.” Then the two inspectors left the farm. Hillary and Christopher, to their credit, were very cordial during the visit; after all, they were just “doing their job” under current MDARD policies.

Sarah Armstrong recorded all videos and was a witness to the food destruction. She described her mix of emotions from the day as: disheartened, sickened, disgusted, angered, saddened, and repulsed. How wasteful!

This is certainly not an easy time for us here at Nourish. Since May 28, we’ve had to stop selling all raw dairy products (except raw cheese which is again available for sale after an initial eight-day seizure because they couldn’t read the plant number on our label, even though Brandon read it to them off the label on the day of the raid) and other products seized by the government due to label misunderstandings.

In addition to raw cheese, we are still able to sell 100% grass fed and needle-free meats (beef, yak, lamb), and corn- and soy-free, low-PUFA chicken and pork, as well as raw dog food, pure Michigan maple syrup, raw honey, and a few other products on our website. We are still figuring out how we can move forward — and we are hopeful we will be able to fully back in business soon selling all products.

One way to help the fight for food freedom is to send a short email to MDARD (directions on how to do this below).

*Please understand that the raw dairy is being sold as a pet food supplement as raw dairy is “illegal” to sell for human consumption. Our labels were submitted as such, but Nourish customers are certainly free to do whatever they want to do with these pet food supplements.

However, at this point in time, MDARD is telling us that it is illegal to sell raw dairy as pet food supplements even though there are numerous pet food stores around the state that sell and ship raw dairy. There are also numerous companies that ship raw dairy as pet food into the state of Michigan (including Amazon!).

Please help us get this “cease and desist” order removed so that we can continue to sell raw dairy as pet food and support our farm partners (who currently do not have a market!).

We would very much appreciate if you sent a short email to Tim Lyons, who is the head of the pet food department in the state of Michigan, with an example email template below that you can slightly tweak if you would like. We ask that you please remain respectful with your email, even though the process has not been respectful to your pet’s right to have nourishing food.

SAMPLE EMAIL SCRIPT to send to tlyonst1@michigan.gov

Hi Tim,

I am emailing you to request that you reconsider the cease and desist order on Nourish Cooperative. We very much need the Nourish raw dairy products as pet food supplements for the continued health of my dogs.

I am able to purchase a variety of raw dairy brands at countless other pet food stores throughout the state of Michigan, but none of those brands compare to the quality Nourish Cooperative provides.

Best,

*insert your name here*

Send email to =

Tim Lyons (Feed Safety Section Manager)

Email = tlyonst1@michigan.gov

If you would like to financially support our co-op during this challenging time, to help us recover from the $90,000 product loss, and help us cover our mounting legal fees, we have an ongoing GiveSendGo fundraiser in which you can support us by clicking below.

donate to fundraiser

Alternatively, you can buy a t-shirt with our current motto — “Fight for Your Right for Nourishment” — and a small percentage of that sale will go to our business. Any effort to support is greatly appreciated, we are determined to not let this be the end of Nourish, and we’ll do everything in our power to ensure we can keep moving forward.

Ashley and Sarah Armstrong co-founded Nourish Cooperative, which ships low-PUFA pork, beef, cheese, A2 dairy and traditional sourdough to all 50 states.

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The subscription fee being requested is for access to the articles and information posted on this site, and is not being paid for any individual medical advice.

If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

Exploring the Benefits of Cupping Therapy

benefits of cupping therapy

  • Cupping therapy is one of the oldest healing techniques still used today. While it may have several cultural origins, one thing is clear — its main goal is to help patients feel better

  • Suction is the core mechanism of cupping therapy. Once a cup has been placed on the skin, the air inside it is vacuumed out through various means, pulling skin and fascia upward into the cup

  • According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the upward suction of the skin can help rebalance the energy within your meridians, facilitating healing

  • Published research suggests cupping therapy can be used to treat conditions such as muscle pain, knee osteoarthritis, lower back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome

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Have you noticed the circular marks on the backs of certain athletes lately? If you’ve been following a few of them and noticed these strange bruises, most likely they’ve been to a cupping therapy session.1 This ancient therapeutic practice gained widespread attention when Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps, was spotted with cupping marks on his shoulder while competing in the 2016 Olympics.2

But what is cupping therapy? According to The Hearty Soul, it’s essentially a technique wherein cups are placed on your back or other parts of your body. Then, the air is vacuumed out from the cups, sucking your skin and fascia upward into the cup. This leaves the iconic circular marks behind, but they aren’t as painful as they look.3 In fact, it’s the suction that facilitates healing.

The origins aren’t clear, but historians believe that cupping therapy originated from diverse locations in Asia and Africa. Records going back 5,500 years noted that Egyptians practiced it, and later introduced it to Greeks.4

Hippocrates, hailed as the father of modern medicine, was a noted proponent of cupping therapy. He was known to use two cups — the first had a narrow opening with a long handle, which was used for accumulated fluids. The second cup hade a wide opening, which was used for pain management.5

Cupping therapy also has a strong presence in Islamic cultures. Known as “hijama” in Arabic,6 it remains popular today due to its religious significance. According to Muslim teachings, the prophet Muhammad encouraged cupping due to its healing properties.7

In addition, cupping therapy has been associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Here’s an account of China’s history of cupping therapy, according to a study8 published in 2011:

“This ancient remedy has deep historical roots in Chinese civilization and has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. The earliest records of cupping in China are found in Bo Shu, a book written on silk, discovered in an ancient tomb of the Han Dynasty. A popular saying in China tells us: ‘Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured.’”

Despite the differing histories, one thing is clear — Cupping has been used extensively to help patients get better.

As cupping spread, more practitioners refined it, coming up with new variations to suit different applications. According to a study9 published in the Journal of Acupuncture & Meridian Studies, the earliest forms of cupping were only separated into two types — wet and dry cupping. But as more information became available, researchers learned that it applied in different ways. Here’s a breakdown of all known categories:

different methods of cupping

Image credit: Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies Volume 11, Issue 3, June 2018, Pages 83-87, Figure 110

As you can see, the myriad categories make it quite daunting to familiarize yourself with all the cupping methods available. But for beginners, The Hearty Soul recommends sticking to the four main cupping methods:11

  • Dry cupping — The basic form of cupping wherein a cup is placed on your skin for around 10 minutes, causing the blood vessels to expand and redden. Glass cups are usually used.

  • Wet cupping — This is a second cupping session after your first dry cupping. Once a cupping mark develops, a scalpel (or needle) is used to make tiny incisions or piercings on the skin. Afterward, another round of cupping is administered to draw out blood from the incisions. The philosophy behind this is that toxins are expelled as they are drawn out.

  • Fire cupping — A cotton ball is doused in an alcohol solution, and then held with forceps under a glass cup. As the cup heats up, a vacuum is created inside the cup. The cotton ball is withdrawn, and the cup rapidly placed on the skin. This is the riskiest method as accidental alcohol drips inside or on the rim can cause burns when placed on the skin. It should only be done by an experienced TCM practitioner.

  • Moving cupping — First, oil is applied over your skin. Then, suction is created on a cup, which is then glided around the body, acting as a form of massage therapy. Typically, silicone cups are used to allow smoother movements over the skin.

Suction is the heart of cupping therapy, and is what promotes healing. According to a report from the South China Morning Post:12

“Cupping is believed to stimulate the flow of qi, the vital energy or ‘life force’ that, according to TCM, circulates through our bodies. TCM practitioners believe that when our qi is disrupted or disturbed, ‘blockages’ or imbalances can occur in the body. The purpose of cupping is to remove these blockages and restore the flow of this vital energy.”

Here’s a breakdown13 of the basic process, according to TCM practitioner Ruth Lee:

  1. A vacuum is created inside the cup, either by burning the oxygen inside a glass cup or by sucking the air out from the top of a plastic cup.

  2. The cup is then quickly placed on selected acupuncture points on the patient’s skin, and the vacuum draws the skin up to the cup.

  3. The low pressure inside the cup mobilizes the free flow of qi and blood around the body through channels known as meridians. This process facilitates the removal of toxins and ultimately restores balance to the body.

  4. The suction effect breaks the tiny blood vessels underneath the skin, resulting in slight discoloration of the area.

In TCM, it is believed that your body is designed to operate as one entire organism, a notion further reinforced through the concept of meridians. These pathways are spread throughout the body, connecting your organs, joints and extremities.14 Through cupping therapy, your body’s Yin-Yang (two opposing energies15) achieves balance, allowing qi to flow freely and better health can be achieved.

As mentioned earlier, the longevity and reputation of cupping therapy lies in its ability to help treat an array of conditions. By applying modern investigative methods, researchers have been able to observe how cupping can bring about healing to the following conditions:

  • Anxiety — Cupping therapy has been used to help manage mental conditions that may lower quality of life. In a case report16 published in 2018, a 39-year-old man was suffering from a panic disorder for five years already, and had been taking medication for his condition.

    For the next 15 months, he took seven wet cupping therapy sessions. In just the first week, he had already noted a reduction of his symptoms of panic disorder. By the end of the study, he had already stopped using medication and had no attacks. The researchers concluded that cupping therapy may help with anxiety disorders.

  • Athletic recovery — With a resurgence attributed to athletes, cupping therapy has been studied, and findings suggest that their claims may have some merit. According to a 2022 study, it may “decrease muscle stiffness under appropriate cupping intensities that may improve sports performance and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness.”17

  • Lower back pain — Chronic lower back pain is one of the most common medical complaints not just in America, but also around the world. According to a 2020 study, there are more than 500 million cases of low back pain present worldwide. By 2050, this number is projected to reach 800 million.18

    If you’re experiencing lower back pain, you may consider trying cupping therapy for relief. In a 2018 study,19 researchers recruited 60 participants suffering from chronic lower back pain for more than three months and were administered a single cupping therapy session. After a week, the participants reported positive changes in pain intensity and disability, as well as better sleep quality.

    Another study,20 a meta-analysis published in Brazil, echoed similar findings. From a total of 26 published papers, cupping therapy was found to have a positive effect on chronic lower back pain.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) — An orthopedic condition caused by pressure on the meridian nerve in the wrist, CTS causes weakness in the hands, making you drop objects. Tingling and numbness may also develop.21 For those suffering from this condition, cupping therapy may be a viable treatment.

    In a study published in 2019, researchers selected 56 hands from people diagnosed with CTS, dividing it into two groups — the control group, which only received physiotherapy, and the test group, which received physiotherapy along with cupping therapy.

    Results indicated that the test group had significant improvement in symptoms, along with better distal sensory latency, which a test that determines the time it takes for your wrist to react after being stimulated, usually by an electrode.22

  • Knee osteoarthritis — This degenerative disease usually occurs because of wear and tear of your cartilage. In other cases, the knee joint degrades due to factor such as accidents or rheumatoid arthritis. Either way, hallmark symptoms include pain in the knee joint, as well as stiffness and swelling.23

    According to a meta-analysis24 published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, despite weak evidence, cupping therapy may still be a viable option for patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis.

  • Shingles — Also known as herpes zoster, this disease is caused by the reactivated varicella-zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox. As such, you’re more likely to get it if you’ve had chickenpox before.25

    Shingles causes blisters in a small area of your skin, but published evidence suggests that cupping therapy, specifically the wet approach, may provide relief. In a meta-analysis26 spanning eight randomized control trials with a total of 651 patients involved, wet cupping showed promising benefits for people diagnosed with shingles.

    To test the healing effects, the lesions were pricked beforehand with needles followed by a cupping session. The researchers conclude that wet cupping may be a better alternative compared to medication for treatment, as it helped manage pain and symptoms better than medications.27

If you want to give cupping a try, you may be apprehensive having patches of your skin pulled upward, leaving circular marks.28 But don’t be discouraged, as studies29 30 confirm that cupping is generally safe for adults, as long as it is done properly.

There are also some safety reminders to take note of, however. According to TCM practitioner Dr. Troy Sing,31 the cups must not be applied on areas with damaged skin, over arteries, veins, lymph nodes, eyes, orifices or fractures. If done properly, the suction left behind will typically disappear within 24 hours. However, if you notice that you’re fainting, bruising, sweating or feeling dizzy, stop the session immediately.

Sing advises seeking a trained practitioner who specializes in the art of cupping. Furthermore, it’s best to refrain from doing cupping therapy if any of the following apply to you:32

  • Pregnant

  • Elderly

  • Diagnosed with hemophilia

  • Currently taking blood-thinning medication

  • Blood disorders

  • Edema, which is the buildup of fluid under your skin33

  • Currently diagnosed with cancer

  • Organ failure

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The subscription fee being requested is for access to the articles and information posted on this site, and is not being paid for any individual medical advice.

If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

Why Does Your Stomach Growl When You Are Hungry?

  • The rumbling sounds commonly associated with “stomach growling” actually emanate from both your stomach and small intestine

  • Contrary to popular belief, these sounds do not necessarily signal hunger; rather, they are the result of muscular contractions within your intestinal wall that compress pockets of trapped gas and air

  • Growling noises are a normal bodily function that occurs throughout the day and, unless accompanied by severe abdominal pain, typically are not a cause for concern

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Editor’s Note: This article is a reprint. It was originally published September 16, 2017.

Your body lets you know every day, in a variety of ways, that it is alive and well. One such way is the familiar growl of your stomach, which, to most of us, signals hunger.

But are all those rumbles and noises actually coming from your stomach? Are they really a sign you need to eat? The answer to both questions is a resounding “No.” I’ll take this opportunity to remind you about what’s really going on when you feel and hear a rumble in your belly.

You may not realize stomach growling actually originates as muscular activity in both your stomach and your small intestine. To better understand what causes it, let’s take a closer look at how your body digests the foods and beverages you consume. As you probably know, one of the primary components of your digestive system is a long hollow tube called the esophagus, which runs from the back of your mouth all the way to your anus.

Your esophagus connects with all of your various organs along your gastrointestinal tract, such as your gallbladder, liver, pancreas and stomach, as well as your small and large intestines (also referred to as your bowels).

The walls of your esophagus are primarily composed of layers of smooth muscle, which are squeezed and contracted as a means of digesting and propelling food through your body. This process is called peristalsis. As peristalsis does its work, the food and beverages you consume are steadily being moved along from your stomach to your anus.

Along the way, they are being mixed with a variety of digestive juices. These juices help your body transform liquids and solids into a gooey mixture known as chyme. Now, this is where the growling noises factor into the process.

The funny noises and rumbling sounds you experience are not hunger pangs; they are caused by pockets of trapped air and gasses that are compressed as your body churns food particles and chyme through your digestive system. Typically, stomach growling is no cause for concern.

You may be surprised to know that growling sounds can happen at any time — not just when you’re hungry or when your digestive system is relatively empty. Sometimes the noises are less noticeable because the presence of food in your body can help somewhat to muffle their sound, as well as lessen their intensity.

Because digestion is an ongoing process, your stomach sends signals to your brain approximately two hours after you eat to start up the peristalsis contractions again. As reported by Scientific American, professor Mark Andrews, a specialist in physiology and biophysics at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, explains what happens next, noting that these contractions generally subside after you eat:1

  • Receptors in the walls of your stomach sense the absence of food, triggering electrical activity in the form of a reflex generation of waves known as migrating myoelectric complexes (MMCs)

  • Hunger contractions result as MMCs travel from the lower region of your stomach, through your small intestine and into your colon

  • This process not only cleans up any bacteria, food or mucus that may have been missed earlier, but also initiates the process to make you hungry for your next meal

  • Those contractions, which may continue for 10 to 20 minutes and repeat every one to two hours until your next meal, produce vibrations and the rumbling noise commonly associated with stomach growling

If you have ever experienced diarrhea, you are already familiar with what is meant by hyperactive bowel sounds. As a refresher, hyperactive bowel sounds are characterized by the combination of:

  • Peristalsis of your intestines

  • Higher levels of fluid and gas

  • Amplified sounds of watery stools

Various malabsorption states can also result in exaggerated bowel sounds. Two of the main ones that receive considerable attention are:2

  • Lactose intolerance — This condition is characterized by your body’s lack of a sufficient level of the enzyme needed to digest lactose in your small intestine. As such, milk sugar will reach your colon intact where it will be fermented by colon bacteria. Those microbes release hydrogen and other products that attract fluids and stimulate gut contractions, which will intensify any abdominal sounds.

  • Celiac disease — This illness results from your body’s inability to process gluten, which is a major protein found in barley, rye and wheat. Primarily characterized by inflammation of the mucosa in your small intestines, celiac disease also causes your intestinal villi to atrophy.

    Villi are the finger-like projections lining the walls of your small intestine that help your body absorb nutrients. When your villi flatten, you may suffer from serious nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption. Diarrhea and muscle wasting are other possible side effects of celiac disease.

According to Healthline,3 a very serious instance involving hyperactive bowel sounds takes place when you have an intestinal obstruction. Obstructions can be partial or total, preventing the passage of food and liquids.

They are characterized by increased contractions that attempt to force air, liquids and solids through a narrowing of your intestine. As such, obstructions produce unusually loud, often high-pitched, sounds. Those sounds are caused by the buildup of food, fluids, gas and gastric acids behind the site of the blockage.

Most obstructions are characterized by symptoms such as abdominal swelling, constipation, nausea and vomiting. Intestinal blockages are considered to be an emergency situation because your intestine could rupture under such intense pressure, causing harmful bacteria and waste products to leak into your abdominal cavity. Given that it is a life-threatening illness that cannot be prevented, immediate diagnosis and treatment of an intestinal blockage is crucial to your survival.

There are a few situations in which it is normal for your intestines to be quiet, including:

  • During sleep

  • At certain times of the day

  • Following abdominal surgery

That said, a complete absence of intestinal sounds that occurs during an attack of severe abdominal pain could be an indication of a serious intra-abdominal event.4 If so, you should treat it as an emergency — one that may require surgery — and get to your nearest hospital immediately.

Unless the sounds your stomach and small intestine are making are accompanied by diarrhea, abdominal pain or other symptoms, they are probably normal.

That said, it is also important to note stomach rumbling is different from, and unrelated to, other gassy phenomena such as belching, bloating and flatulence. While any, or all, of these may occur in the same person, they are causally unrelated. If you feel your bowel sounds are abnormally loud or if they are causing you anxiety or embarrassment, be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor.

While there is nothing you can or need to do to curtail your body’s digestive noises, you can take proactive steps to prevent a more serious intestinal issue. By far, your best defense against intestinal problems is to optimize your gut microbiome. One of the best and least expensive ways to do so is to begin by eliminating sugar and processed foods from your diet, while adding a variety of fermented foods.

The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods will aid your digestion and provide detoxification support. Consuming a variety of fermented foods and beverages is important because each food will inoculate your gut with a mix of different microorganisms. As such, your digestive tract will be stronger and more resilient against bacteria and other toxic invaders.

Fortunately, with a little time and effort, you can cultivate fermented foods at home. While there are several options, two of the easiest and most popular types are:

  • Cultured dairy, such as yogurt, kefir and sour cream

  • Cultured vegetables, including pureed baby foods

For step-by-step instructions on how to ferment vegetables, check out my video below. While you can purchase these items in a grocery store, you will get a higher-quality product by culturing your own. Making your fermented foods and beverages at home also gives you total control and knowledge of the ingredients contained in each one.

If, for whatever reason, fermented foods are not an option for you, consider taking a daily probiotic supplement. Probiotics are supplements designed to increase your beneficial bacteria, the largest concentration of which is found in your gut. By supporting the health-promoting bacteria in your body, probiotics help keep harmful microbes in check.

If you recently have taken or currently are taking an antibiotic, be sure to also take a probiotic to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. This is necessary because most antibiotics kill not only the target organism that might be causing your infection (which is a good thing), but also your beneficial bacteria.

Keep in mind that many prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary and may inflict more harm than good. As such, I recommend you carefully weigh your options before taking them.

Given the risks of antibiotic resistance, be selective and, if possible, restrict antibiotic use to only the medical situations that mandate the use of them. Learn more about the value and use of probiotics through my interview with Greg Leyer, chief scientific officer of UAS Laboratories, a probiotic-dedicated manufacturer.

For sure, your body will continue to make growling noises. Whenever you feel and hear that familiar rumble, let it remind you that you have a human form that is intricately made and wonderfully complex. Unless the growling sounds are bothersome, or accompanied by abdominal pain or other alarming symptoms, there is little cause for concern. As always, your best defense against more serious digestive issues is to act now to proactively maintain your health.

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The subscription fee being requested is for access to the articles and information posted on this site, and is not being paid for any individual medical advice.

If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

Is Your Baby’s ‘First Food’ Loaded With Toxic Heavy Metals?

infant formulas contain heavy metals

  • Researchers looked at samples from 20 formulas made by well-known local and international brands, and found that six out of 20 formulas tested positive for five types of toxic heavy metals, including lead and aluminum

  • In May 2024, the FDA sounded the alarm on the Crecelac Infant Powdered Goat Milk Infant Formula, after tests revealed it was contaminated with Cronobacter, which can lead to life-threatening infections like sepsis and meningitis

  • U.S. lawmakers are also working on a new bill, dubbed The Baby Food Safety Act of 2024, that would direct the FDA to set maximum allowable limits for heavy metals in baby food and infant formula

  • Breast milk is still the best option for both infants and mothers. However, if you are unable to lactate, I recommend making your own homemade formula milk — recipes are included in this article

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The “breast versus bottle” debate has long divided concerned parents who only want the best nourishment for their child. Many parents who seek convenience often choose infant formula. Others, such as moms who cannot produce enough breast milk to satisfy their children, have no choice but to resort to formula milk.

So, to find out that most infant formulas sold today are contaminated with not just one, but FIVE toxic metals is not just alarming, but an eye-opener to just how unnatural and damaging these highly processed infant foods are.

Published in May 2024, the study was a collaboration between two nonprofit organizations, GMOScience and Moms Across America.1 Spearheaded by Michelle Perro, MD, Zen Honeycutt and Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., the study aimed to determine the presence of toxic metals in several brands of infant formula.

The researchers tested 40 samples from 20 formulas made by well-known local and international brands, such as Enfamil, Gerber and Similac, to name a few. Some were labeled “Organic,” “Non-GMO,” “Grass fed” and “Hypoallergenic.” Most formulas were dairy-based, and only one was soy-based. Each formula was tested twice.

The study findings were alarming. Not only did all samples test positive for aluminum and lead, but the researchers also found that:2

  • Six out of 20 formulas tested positive for all the heavy metals being tested

  • 35% of the samples tested positive for cadmium, 55% were positive for mercury and 57% were positive for arsenic

  • Four samples had mercury levels that were higher than the allowed limit in drinking water by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

  • Cadmium levels in both samples of one formula are nearly twice higher than the allowed amount in drinking water

  • The aluminum levels in a goat’s milk baby formula were at 41,000 ppb — this means it was 4,000 to 40,000 times higher than other metals in the formulas tested. It also exceeds the limits set by the FDA for the maximum safety level of aluminum for a preemie

The study authors, who released their findings on their podcast The New MDS (Mothers, Doctors and Scientists),3 emphasized the significance of this project and what it can mean for young children’s health. They mentioned that these toxic heavy metals can cross your child’s blood-brain barrier, which doesn’t fully develop until they’re 6 months old, which puts them at risk of cognitive health issues.

“Chronic exposure to these metals, even at low levels, can have cumulative effects on infants, potentially leading to developmental and neurological issues, carcinogenic, as well as initiating the development of chronic diseases later in life.

Given the [crucial] growth period in infants, even small amounts of toxic metals can have disproportionately large impacts as compared to adults,” they stated.4

They also noted that the heavy metal contamination from formula milk can have a cumulative effect. The levels can also increase during early infant growth, as well as when various nutrient deficiencies are present, such as iron and vitamin D deficiency.5 In a blog post, Anne Temple of Moms Across America commented:6

“[W]e are extremely dismayed by the results. We had hoped some formulas would be free from toxic and heavy metals, but they were not. We were shocked to see such high levels of toxic metal aluminum present in goat’s milk formula and urge the manufacturers and the FDA to immediately take action to resolve this issue.”

In late May 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sounded the alarm on another infant formula manufacturer after learning that it not only failed to comply with FDA regulations,7 but one of its products is contaminated with Cronobacter.8 9

The Crecelac Infant Powdered Goat Milk Formula was voluntarily recalled by its Texas-based manufacturer Dairy Manufacturers Inc. after its samples tested positive for Cronobacter. This bacterium can cause life-threatening infections affecting the central nervous system and bloodstream, such as meningitis and sepsis.

Cronobacter infections are most common in infants younger than 2 months and can lead to complications like brain abscess, developmental delay and motor impairments. In the majority of cases, this infection can be fatal.10

Initial symptoms of this infection include poor feeding, temperature changes, irritability, jaundice, grunting breaths and abnormal body movements. So far, no illnesses related to the Crecelac recall have been reported,11 though the FDA cautions parents and guardians to contact their health care provider and get immediate care if their child experiences these symptoms after consuming these infant formulas.12

There is one good outcome that came from the GMOScience and Moms Across America study — the FDA is taking notice and has made encouraging statements regarding the regulation of heavy metals in infant formula.

U.S. lawmakers are also working on a new bill, dubbed The Baby Food Safety Act of 2024,13 that would direct the FDA to set maximum allowable limits for heavy metals in baby food, as well as to monitor and set standards for testing the final product. This will also allow them to establish mandatory recalls for food products that don’t meet the standards. According to a CNN article:14

“‘Parents want what’s best for their children, and they deserve peace of mind knowing the food they purchase for their babies and toddlers is safe,’ Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, said in a statement about the bill she is leading.

‘This legislation will boost food safety standards and require more complete testing by manufacturers to prevent heavy metals from poisoning our kids.’”

In recent years, there have been increasing instances of heavy metal contamination seen in baby foods. “A 2019 report from the advocacy group Healthy Babies Bright Futures said that 95% of baby foods from major manufacturers contained lead and a quarter of the foods contained all four heavy metals,” CNN reports.15

And just last year, the FDA issued a recall for three brands of fruit pouches after they were found to contain high lead levels.

“We urge our Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle to remember that toxins are not partisan. Heavy metals, pesticides, and contaminants damage a baby’s development, impair their ability to function, and prevent them from fulfilling their potential regardless of their parent’s political party. It is imperative that our politicians come together to support this bill,” according to the Moms Across America website.

These findings aren’t at all surprising, considering that infant formulas are among the most highly processed food products made for children today, and are prone to contamination. According to Dairy Reporter,16 “The [Cronobacter] bacterium is naturally found in the environment and may end up in formula if it comes in contact with contaminated surfaces or has been improperly stored.”

What’s more, infant formulas are made with junk ingredients that contribute nothing to your child’s health. Just take a look at the list of ingredients of one infant formula that’s “highly recommended” in the U.S.:

ingredients

Corn syrup solids, safflower oil, sucrose, soy oil — No wonder childhood obesity in the U.S. is now rising at alarming rates. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that formula milk made with corn syrup solids is associated with increased obesity risk in the first five years of life, in a dose dependent manner.17

Plus, the vegetable oils used in these products are loaded with omega-6 fats, particularly linoleic acid, the most damaging ingredient that contributes to most degenerative diseases today.

Babies nourished with formula milk are also more likely to rapidly gain weight and in excess — another risk factor for obesity both during childhood and in adulthood.18 One study, published in the npj Metabolic Health and Diseases, noted:19

“While infant formula is designed to provide all the necessary nutrients for infant growth and development, it has been linked with infant hospitalizations and infections, childhood obesity, and lowered levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an important fatty acid related to brain development.”

This isn’t the first disaster in recent years involving infant formula. In 2022, the FDA shut down Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan, after five infants were reportedly sickened with Cronobacter and Salmonella infections.20 Two of the babies died. As a result of this shutdown, a severe formula milk shortage was experienced all across the U.S.

Were breastfeeding the norm, then parents wouldn’t be in a panic over these disastrous events. Many children would also enjoy better health overall. Unfortunately, many mothers still turn to formula milk, as it not only offers greater freedom, but also because there’s been a stigma associated with breastfeeding. For many years, breastfeeding in public has been frowned upon, and has been even considered “shameful.”

Many mothers would defer to the bottle rather than be called out for “exposing themselves” in public — a ridiculous notion, as this is in fact the most natural, healthiest food you can offer your child.

The growing awareness of the science behind the “breast is best” campaign has led to increasing rates in breastfeeding in the U.S. In 1971, only 24% of mothers initiated breastfeeding after childbirth;21 this rose to 81% in 2016.22 However, a study23 notes that 60% mothers still stop breastfeeding sooner than planned.

But halting breastfeeding could cause your child to miss out on various health benefits, most of which continue well into adulthood. From a nutritional science point of view, there’s simply no dispute that breast milk is the optimal food for newborns and young infants.

For one, breastfeeding has been associated with a lower risk of being overweight and obese.24 Not only does exclusive breastfeeding prevent the early introduction of foods that may trigger weight gain, but it also establishes a healthy gut microbiome, which is key for lifelong health. According to the Global Breastfeeding Collective:25

“Breastfeeding helps populate the child’s body with ‘good’ bacteria from his or her mother, which provide protection against excessive weight gain. Breastmilk contains hormones and other biological factors involved in the regulation of food intake that may help shape the long-term physiological processes responsible for maintaining energy balance.

Feeding of infant formula by bottle may interfere with a child’s recognition of satiety and thus lead to overeating.”

Adults who were breastfed during infancy were also found to have a 26% lower risk of becoming overweight or obese, as well as a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.26 Mothers who breastfed also experienced profound benefits, such as:

  • Quicker recovery from childbirth — It helps return the uterus to normal size and reduces postpartum bleeding27

  • Reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer28

  • Faster weight loss after childbirth — Producing milk burns approximately 450 extra calories each day, which helps mobilize visceral fat stores.

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease29

  • Reduced risk of postpartum depression30

  • Closer bond between her and her child, even beyond infancy31

Weston A Price foundation baby formula

If you are a new mother and still lactating, then breastfeeding would be the best choice for both you and your child. However, moms who didn’t breastfeed from the start, or who have stopped for weeks or months, may find it difficult to go back to breastfeeding, as you cannot restart lactation at will.

Your next-best option then is to make your own infant formula using raw milk. In the video above, health and nutrition educator Sarah Pope of the Healthy Home Economist demonstrates how to make the formula created by Mary Enig, Ph.D., which was published in the book, “Nourishing Traditions.” There are a couple of caveats with Pope’s recipe, though:

  1. Fermented cod liver oil is a recommended ingredient in Pope’s recipes, which may be dangerous for babies. Laboratory testing has revealed the product tends to be prone to rancidity, may contain added vegetable oils, and lacks vitamin K2 and CoQ10.

    The concentration of vitamins A and D can also vary significantly from one batch to another, as cod liver oil is not regulated or standardized. Unless you can verify the purity of the cod liver oil, I’d recommend using wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil instead.

  2. The Weston A. Price Foundation’s baby formula recipe suggests butter oil is optional, but Dr. Price himself recommended always pairing cod liver oil with butter oil, which contains vitamin K2 (MK-4). I recommend tweaking the recipe by making butter oil a requirement if you’re using a certified pure fermented cod liver oil.

I’ve made adjustments to Pope’s recipe and have applied the necessary substitutions mentioned above. This milk-based recipe will make 36 ounces of infant formula, although if you need to make large batches to last several days, you can do so — just make sure to freeze the finished product.

Procedure:

  1. Warm 1 7/8 cups of filtered water (to get this amount, measure out 2 cups of water and remove 2 tablespoons) over medium heat.

  2. Add 2 teaspoons of grass fed beef gelatin and 4 tablespoons of lactose to the water; occasionally stir until dissolved.

  3. Place 2 cups of raw organic whole cow’s milk into a clean glass blender. Add remainder of ingredients to the blender:

    • 1/4 cup of liquid homemade whey (for instructions, see Pope’s video. You can also visit the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website for their own homemade whey recipe.32)

    • 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw cream

    • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

    • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis (a probiotic)

    • 2 teaspoons Frontier Brand nutritional yeast flakes

    • 1/2 teaspoon high-quality non-fermented cod liver oil. You could substitute the cod liver oil with wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil

    • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

    • 1 teaspoon organic ghee

  4. Remove the pot of water from the stove. Add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil to the water to melt. Once melted, add the water mixture to the blender ingredients and blend for about three to five seconds.

  5. Pour the blended ingredients into glass jars or glass baby bottles and refrigerate. Before feeding, warm the formula by placing the glass bottle in a pot of hot water. A baby bottle warmer can also be used. Never microwave infant formula, as this will destroy many valuable nutrients and enzymes and pose a burn risk.

Many symptoms of milk intolerance are caused by A1 casein, a type of lectin associated with leaky gut and autoimmune disorders. Casein A2 is the normal protein in milk, present in sheep, goat, water buffalo and some Jersey cow milk. Unfortunately, most cows today are casein A1 producers.

For babies who cannot tolerate milk, Pope recommends this hypoallergenic infant formula recipe, which uses meat instead.

Procedure:

  1. Chop 2 ounces of organic grass fed beef or chicken liver into small pieces.

  2. Gently simmer the liver pieces in 3 3/4 cups homemade chicken or beef broth, until thoroughly cooked.

  3. Pour the liver broth into a clean glass blender. Blend for several seconds to liquefy the liver, then let cool. Once the liver broth has cooled, add the remaining ingredients:

    • 5 tablespoons of lactose (if your child is allergic to lactose, substitute with glucose)

    • 1/4 cup organic homemade liquid whey (if your child has intolerance to whey, you may leave it out)

    • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis (a probiotic)

    • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

    • 2 teaspoons organic grass fed ghee

    • 1 teaspoon high-quality coconut oil

    • 1/2 teaspoon high-quality cod liver oil

  4. Blend for a few seconds on low speed, until well-mixed. Pour the blended ingredients into glass jars or glass baby bottles and refrigerate.

  5. Before feeding, warm the formula by placing the glass bottle in a pot of hot water. A baby bottle warmer can also be used. Never microwave infant formula, as this will destroy many valuable nutrients and enzymes and pose a burn risk.

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The subscription fee being requested is for access to the articles and information posted on this site, and is not being paid for any individual medical advice.

If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

What to Do About Your Bunions?

what to do about your bunions

  • A bunion, medically known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe

  • Bunions are among the most common chronic orthopedic conditions that affect the forefoot, with up to 28.4% of people affected

  • Bunions can cause pain or discomfort, especially when you’re walking, standing or wearing shoes that put pressure on the affected area

  • While surgery is sometimes recommended for bunion treatment, less invasive options, including choosing the proper footwear, can be effective for relief

  • Wearing minimalist “barefoot” shoes or walking barefoot on hard surfaces may also contribute to bunions; I believe one of the primary causes of my bunion was adopting a “barefoot” lifestyle for well over 10 years

  • Aleena Kanner, one of the leading postural experts in the U.S., created “The Shoe Ebook” to help you make informed footwear choices for pain-free — and bunion-free — feet

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A bunion, medically known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe — the metatarsophalangeal joint. It occurs when the big toe pushes against the adjacent toe, causing the joint of the big toe to become enlarged and protrude outward. Bunions can be painful and may cause swelling, redness and discomfort, especially when wearing tight or narrow shoes.

The exact cause of bunions is not always clear, but they’re often associated with wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes, genetics or certain foot conditions such as flat feet or arthritis. However, the underlying cause of your bunion may actually be related not only to improper footwear but also going barefoot for too long — and proper footwear and foot dynamics may help.

Aleena Kanner, one of the leading postural experts in the U.S. and a certified Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) practitioner, created “The Shoe Ebook” to help you make informed footwear choices for pain-free — and bunion-free — feet.

Bunions are among the most common chronic orthopedic conditions that affect the forefoot, with up to 28.4% of people affected.1 One of the most noticeable signs of a bunion is a bony bump that protrudes outward at the base of your big toe joint on the inner side of your foot. Your big toe may point toward your other toes instead of straight ahead, causing the big toe joint to become misaligned.

Bunions can cause pain or discomfort, especially when you’re walking, standing or wearing shoes that put pressure on the affected area. The bunion area may also appear swollen and red due to inflammation and irritation of the surrounding tissues. Some people with bunions may experience stiffness or limited range of motion in their big toe joint. However, in some cases there is no pain at all.

Bunions can also lead to the formation of calluses or corns on the affected foot, particularly where the bunion rubs against the inside of shoes. If left unaddressed, complications can also occur, including osteoarthritis and bursitis, a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near joints.

Bunions may also contribute to the development of hammertoe,2 an abnormal bending or flexing of the middle joint of one or more of the smaller toes. While anyone can develop a bunion, they’re more common in women and people with a history of foot injuries, such as athletes. There also appears to be a genetic connection, as more than 70% of those with bunions have a parent who also had them.3

While the underlying causes vary, the way you walk and your foot mechanics may play a role, likely in addition to other factors, like improper shoe choices, working on your feet for long periods or underlying inflammatory health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.4 Uncovering the foundational cause of your bunion is key to proper treatment.

I visited Aleena Kanner, one of the leading postural experts in the U.S. and a certified Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) practitioner, to address a bunion I’d been trying to treat for a year. Although it wasn’t painful, I didn’t want it to get worse. After consulting with Kanner, I now believe one of the primary causes of the bunion was adopting a “barefoot” lifestyle for well over 10 years.

Going barefoot is great if you’re walking on the beach or grass — and is an important component of beneficial grounding — but I have tile floors in my home, and walking barefoot on hard, flat surfaces can lead to problems, including bunions, as there is no supportive structure for the foot. Kanner explains:5

“It’s been a huge [trend] lately, in the last, I’d say 10 years, to be wearing barefoot minimalist shoes, or no shoes. No shoes is fine if you are out in nature. I love grounding. We all know that there’s an exchange of frequency from the earth into our bodies, and that’s great if you are outside … in sand, in grass.

However, our society is not built like that. We are not walking outside in grass and sand all the time. We are walking on flat surfaces, and the problem with that is, our feet have arches, and we need to be able to give [them] the proper contact with the ground.

It ends up actually just slapping the ground and not creating that proper movement, range of motion in the foot, where we should have pronation, supination, pronation, supination. When we’re missing that range and that flow, it can lock up your neck. It can lock up your rib cage.

Wearing a specific shoe can open up that ability to have better range of motion at the feet, which can transfer up the chain. It’s a really hard topic for people because the minimalist shoes have a great marketing scheme. They’re saying our ancestors were barefoot. But you have to think about the context of that. They were not walking on pavement all day long in cities.

They were outside in nature, where the foot’s ability to pronate and supinate was still there because nature is uneven surfaces. So I want to get across, it is OK to be outside barefoot if you’re walking on an uneven surface on the beach.

But if you are in society and you’re walking in barefoot minimalist shoes or no shoes at all, and you’re having pain or symptoms … hormone issues, et cetera, a shoe with proper ability to ground, the sensory ability to ground, is going to most likely, almost always, make a positive change for that person’s well-being.”

While surgery is sometimes recommended for bunion treatment, less invasive options, including choosing the proper footwear, can be effective for relief. Wearing properly fitting shoes with a wide toe box, for instance, can help relieve pressure on the bunion and reduce discomfort. Custom orthotic inserts or arch supports can also help redistribute pressure on your foot and promote proper alignment, reducing symptoms associated with bunions.

Acknowledging that “improper shoe wear can quickly defeat any physical therapy program,” PRI maintains a recommended shoe list that’s updated at least twice a year, noting, “Every time you stand up your whole body is influenced by your feet. No matter what is bothering you, if you aren’t getting better, perhaps you need someone to check your shoes.”6 Wearing the wrong shoes can certainly aggravate or ameliorate bunions, as well. Kanner says:7

“When I change the shoes on people, they can’t believe it because it’s such a simple thing you wouldn’t think about … If they’re in a minimal shoe, that is a big red flag for me as a practitioner.

It’s something I need to address to get their body to be able to relax and get into that calm state to combat whatever they’re dealing with … bunions specifically can happen on the right or left foot. They’re different and should be treated slightly differently from side to side.

This is something I think chiropractors, PTs, et cetera, movement professionals, don’t always know about the body, but we are asymmetrical, so we need to be treated as if we’re asymmetrical. We have a diaphragm on the right side that’s bigger and larger, and it attaches lower into the lumbar spine compared to the diaphragm on the left side.

We have three lobes of lung on the right and only two on the left. And we have a heart that sits on the left chest wall, which keeps that whole chest wall hyper-inflated. And we have a, on average, 3-pound liver on the right side of our body. Because of this internal asymmetry, we’re going to see slight changes in how that person feels and moves.

When I see a bunion, in general, I know that person is most likely lacking an arch of their foot. A bunion is when the toe is coming inwards towards the other toes. That person’s ability to feel the ground with their arch is going to be limited most likely, especially if it’s on the right foot.

When I give that person an arch where it should be, and if they’re not normally sensing that, we don’t necessarily see a huge decrease in the bunion. Maybe with time. It’s not an immediate change because it took time for that person to get a bunion in the first place. But we see major changes in that person’s brain’s ability to feel their feet on the ground.

Somebody with a bunion has really lost that ability to pronate, which is to flatten the arch into the ground and then use their right glute to push off and get the body weight to the left. When I see bunions, I know that there have been bony changes to adapt to somebody’s gait pattern or postural breathing pattern. Gait, posture and breathing are all tied together.”

The shoes that are right for you are likely going to be different from your neighbor. Ideally, have a professional test you to make sure you’re wearing footwear that has the desired effect in your particular case. If that’s not possible, trial and error has few downsides.

Dr. Geoffrey Phillips, an orthopedic surgeon in Great Neck, New York, also revealed that properly balanced shoes can be fundamental to bunion treatment. TIME reported:8

“The main reason why people go to the doctor about their bunion is because they’re experiencing pain, Phillips says. Some can make lifestyle modifications that eliminate the need for surgery, especially if they start when their bunion is still in its early stages. Phillips’ first recommendation is to make footwear changes.

‘If they’re accustomed to wearing high heels, we try to change that reliance to more balanced shoewear,’ he says. ‘That can include shoes with a wide toe box, so there’s less pressure on the foot.’ It can also be helpful to seek out ‘rocker bottom shoes,’ which have a curved sole that smoothes out the transition from heel-strike to landing on the front of the foot.”

In my case, the bunion is on my left foot, and Kanner gave me arch support for my right foot. The reason for this is because bunions on the left suggests the right foot is not pronating properly. Added arch support allows the right foot to flatten and push off the ground properly, which in turn facilitates the proper movement of the left foot.

I also wear a spacer between the bunion and the second toe to keep them apart and to help the bunion from worsening. Another device that seems to be working quite well is a brace that has a steel bar on one side and a Velcro band that pushes the big toe out medially. There are many corrective devices out there, and working with a professional is best to determine which are useful for your unique case. Kanner adds:9

“When I say the shoe gives the brain the ability to sense the ground better, I’m talking about certain aspects of the shoe … A lot of shoes lack what we call a heel counter. A heel counter is the back of the shoe that grabs the heel and you can feel it. If it’s hard, it’s going to hold the heel in a better place, which is going to position the talus bone, which sits on top of the heel to align the body upwards in a better position.

Feel a barefoot shoe. There’s zero heel counter there. Then that person’s heel, calcaneus and talus, is going to go in whatever position the brain wants it to go in … That’s one component of the shoe. The other component of the shoe is the arch. When you think about walking on the beach, when you’re putting your foot in the sand, there’s sand that comes up to solidify [and] ground that part of your arch.

You don’t have that when you’re walking on flat surfaces. You’re just slapping your foot into the ground. The arch is getting no feedback. I see a lot of people enter a more parasympathetic state when you just put an arch in their shoe. So those are the things we look at with shoes.”

The general principle is that if you have a movement imbalance it will invariably tend to result in some type of injury over time. Further, your body is naturally asymmetrical. Balance is maintained through the integration of these system imbalances, and when balanced integration fails, structural weaknesses and pain, as well as bunions, can develop.

Before resorting to surgery, consider if a switch to better footwear can give you the relief you’re after. In summary, the essential components of proper footwear are:10

  • A heel counter for calcaneal guidance, supporting the way the heel bone moves and aligns during walking

  • Arch support for a better ability to pronate

  • A flexible midfoot for fluid movement

  • Proper heel lift

  • A wide toe box for optimal alignment and comfort

For more information and guidance on selecting footwear, download “The Shoe Ebook.”

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The subscription fee being requested is for access to the articles and information posted on this site, and is not being paid for any individual medical advice.

If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

Six Kitchen Staples That Don’t Go Bad for Years

healthy kitchen staples

  • Dried beans, mustard, white vinegar and salt are examples of foods that will stay fresh in your pantry for years

  • One concern with beans is that they contain lectins, which are sugar-binding plant proteins that attach to cell membranes that can lead to weight gain or health problems. If you choose to eat beans, be sure to prepare and cook them properly

  • Honey and vanilla extract are other kitchen staples with years-long shelf lives

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Editor’s Note: This article is a reprint. It was originally published January 30, 2017.

Food waste is a major problem in the U.S., not only on the farm, where produce may be dubbed unfit for sale because it’s too lumpy, too small or otherwise not aesthetically perfect, but also in U.S. homes.

It’s estimated that, overall, about 40% of U.S. food is wasted, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average U.S. family of four wastes more than 2 million calories, which equates to $1,500 worth of food, every year.1

Reducing food waste by just 15% could provide food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year, according to the USDA, and would also benefit the environment, since food waste is the largest component of municipal solid waste (composting food scraps in your backyard is one way to reduce this).

Unless you carefully plan your meals, it’s easy to overbuy fresh foods and end up having them spoil before use. There are, however, a number of healthy staples you can stock up on in your kitchen without worrying about spoilage, as they keep for a long time — even years.

Having access to nonperishable food items is undoubtedly convenient. Stock up your pantry once in a while and you’ll be prepared to make a meal even on short notice or in a pinch.

What you want to avoid are foods that last a long time because they contain synthetic preservatives or come in canned form (cans are often lined with toxic bisphenol A [BPA]). Instead, look for whole foods that are naturally long lasting and good for you. Some of the top options follow:

  1. Dried beans — Beans are a good source of folate, dietary fiber, manganese, protein, magnesium, vitamin B1 (thiamin), phosphorus and antioxidants, and may be beneficial for heart health when eaten in moderation.

    However, one concern with beans is that they contain lectins, which are sugar-binding plant proteins that attach to cell membranes that can lead to weight gain or health problems. To learn more information about lectins, I recommend reading “How to Reduce Lectins in Your Diet.”

    If you choose to eat beans, be sure to prepare and cook them properly. While absolutes are rarely called for, a warning is appropriate here: NEVER eat raw or undercooked beans, as they can have acute, toxic effects. As little as five beans can cause a reaction reminiscent of food poisoning. To make beans safe to eat, be sure to:

    • Soak the beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, frequently changing the water. Adding baking soda to the soaking water will boost the neutralization of lectins even further.2

    • Rinse the beans and discard the water used for soaking.

    • Cook for at least 15 minutes on HIGH heat. Cooking beans on too-low a heat can actually increase toxicity levels up to five times or more.3 Avoid any recipe calling for dry bean flour, as the dry heat of your oven will not efficiently destroy the lectins. The best way to destroy lectins is to use a pressure cooker like the InstaPot.4 5

  2. Mustard — Mustard lasts for a long time (including up to three years before it’s opened) and high-quality versions are made of only beneficial mustard seeds, turmeric, water and vinegar. Mustard adds a tasty kick to many types of foods, and as an added bonus may boost your metabolism by up to 25% for hours after you eat.6

  3. White vinegar — The Vinegar Institute states that white vinegar has an indefinite shelf life, due to its acidic nature.7 This is why it’s commonly used for pickling, and it’s also commonly added to condiments and other food dishes for flavor. Vinegar may also significantly benefit your health. As reported in the Journal of Food Science:8

    “Functional therapeutic properties of vinegar … include antibacterial activity, blood pressure reduction, antioxidant activity, reduction in the effects of diabetes, prevention of cardiovascular disease and increased vigor after exercise.”

    Distilled white vinegar is excellent for cleaning and laundry, but for health purposes you’ll want to avoid the perfectly clear, “sparkling clean” varieties you commonly see on grocery store shelves. Instead, you want organic, unfiltered and unprocessed vinegar, which is murky.

    When you try to look through it, you will notice a cobweb-like substance floating in it. This is known as “mother,” and it indicates your vinegar is of the best quality.

    The reason manufacturers distill vinegar is to remove this rather murky looking stuff that most people find unappealing and won’t buy. But in this case, it’s the murky looking stuff you want. As with most foods, the more processed a food is, the less nutritious, and this holds true for most vinegar as well.

  4. Salt — While iodized salt has a shelf life of about five years, natural salt will remain fresh indefinitely. While many people are under the impression that salt intake should be restricted, the heart benefits of doing so have been questioned for some time.

    In 2011, a systematic review of data involving 6,500 people found evidence was lacking to recommend salt restriction.9 Among people with high blood pressure or normal blood pressure, salt restriction was not significantly associated with overall mortality or cardiovascular mortality.

    Among those with congestive heart failure, meanwhile, salt restriction was associated with increased mortality risk.

    An update to the review, published in 2014, also found “there is insufficient power to confirm clinically important effects of dietary advice and salt substitution on cardiovascular mortality” among people with high blood pressure or normal blood pressure.10

    Some studies have shown a modest benefit to salt restriction among some people with high blood pressure, but keep in mind that there’s a huge difference between natural salt and the processed salt added to processed foods and salt shakers in most homes and restaurants. The former is essential for good health, whereas the latter is best avoided altogether.

  5. Honey — While I recommend eating honey only in moderation, honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties that make it keep for a very long time. While its color or texture may change (turning grainy or hard), it’s still safe to eat. Hardened honey can be softened by soaking the container in a bowel of warm water.

    Keep in mind that honey, if not consumed in moderation, will increase your insulin and leptin levels and can lead to poor health.

    I recommend using raw Manuka honey — not the processed, refined varieties found in many grocery stores. Maple syrup is another natural sweetener that will keep a very long time when stored in your refrigerator or freezer (but this, too, should only be eaten in moderation).

  6. Vanilla extract — Real vanilla extract will keep for a very long time (much longer than imitation versions, which have a shelf life of about two years). You can use organic vanilla extract to make this healthy ice cream recipe, which is perfect for summer.

    Healthy Banana Ice Cream Recipe

    Serving Size: one quart of ice cream

    Ingredients:

    • 4 overripe bananas

    • 2 tablespoons non-GMO, non-soy lecithin granules (optional, but adds creamy texture)

    • 1 1/2 cups raw milk (or coconut milk or nut/rice milk)

    • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

    Procedure:

    1. In a food processor, liquefy the bananas and the lecithin granules. While processor is still running add the remaining ingredients.

    2. Depending on the size of the bananas, this will make up to four cups liquid. Add more milk if necessary to make one quart of liquid. Pour the mixture into baking sheets or ice-cube trays and freeze until solid.

    3. If using baking sheets, cut the frozen mixture into strips, if using ice-cube trays just pop out the cubes. Place frozen pieces back into juicer or food processor and blend until homogenized. Serve immediately.

A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard found that more than 90% of Americans are throwing out food prematurely because of misunderstandings of what food date labels actually mean.11

The researchers concluded that food dates generally lead to good food getting thrown away prematurely. There is no universally accepted system for food dating in the U.S. “Sell by” dates aren’t meant for consumer use at all. They are there as tools to help retailers ensure proper product turnover when stocking shelves, yet many consumers believe it is a measure of food safety.

“Best if Used By (or Before)” dates are set by the manufacturer to suggest when to consume the food by for best flavor or quality. However, it is not a measure of safety either and foods can typically be safely consumed after the “best by” or “best before” date, often with minimal, if any, changes in taste or texture.

A “use by” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. This date is also determined by the manufacturer and may vary widely even between similar products. So when determining whether a food is still good to eat, you’re basically on your own (but understand that many foods are still safe to eat beyond their expiration dates).

To minimize food waste and get the most from your food dollars, I recommend buying your food locally, preferably from a small organic farming operation you can visit and inspect for yourself. This guarantees that you get the freshest foods right from the start, giving you a few extra days (or in some cases weeks) of leeway before they spoil.

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