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The Best and Worst Types of Shoes for Your Feet

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Honestly, the best shoe for your foot is none at all. Human feet are perfectly well-suited to walk barefoot—in fact, that is what they have evolved to do! So putting shoes on your feet is, in general, bad. It’s bad for your knees, your tendons and your spine. The problem is, we are used to wearing shoes—so much so, that it hurts to walk without them. If walking barefoot around the city seems too gross to you, there are some shoe choices you can make to simulate barefoot walking. Here are the shoes to avoid, and the shoes you should replace them with:

Stay Away From:

1. Pointed Toes

Cramming your poor toes into a point causes overcrowding, which is a key player in causing bunions and hammertoes. These are both extremely painful conditions that have to be surgically corrected.

2. High, High Heels

The stiletto’s list of crimes is very long. The higher the heel, the more stress on unnatural pressure points along your spine. Standing in high heels slides your feet forward, forcing you to redistribute your weight. Wearing heels destroys your body’s natural alignment, causing injury to leg muscles, osteoarthritis of the knee and low back pain. All this, in addition to the risk of ankle injury should you fall off your high heels. Women should in general never wear a shoe with a heel higher than 2 ¼ inches, and definitely not for more than three hours at a time.

3. Running Shoes with Thick Heels

All athletic shoes have built up heels, but some are worse offenders than others. A study has shown that people who wear expensive running shoes—those built up to “protect” your feet with all kinds of extra material and springs—actually increase their odds of injuring themselves by 123%! Expensive shoes often increase plantar pressure, the force produced by the impact of the sole hitting the ground.

Instead, Check Out:

1. Vibram FiveFingers

These shoes actually look like gloves for your feet, with a little holder for each toe! They work as a tougher sole for your feet without interfering with your foot’s natural motion during activity. They strengthen muscles in your feet and lower legs that you probably didn’t know were weak, all while allowing the thousands of neurological receptors in your feet to inform you about your surroundings. ($75 at )

2. Vivo Barefoot

This “unshoe” protects your feet with a minimal sole, avoiding the damage that thicker soles cause our balance and posture. It is thin, but it is puncture proof, so your foot is completely protected. The Barefoot also allows all the nerve-endings in your feet to receive stimulation, enhancing your body’s sensory perception. ($160 at

3. Nike Free 5.0

If you are looking for new gym shoes, consider these. These are some of the first running shoes designed to have minimal impact on your natural running style, while still providing the traction and protection that we have come to need. These do still offer cushioning, which covers up your foot’s natural sense of the ground, but it is significantly less than what is normally sold in a Nike shoe. ($85 at

The Ideal Breakfast

In all likelihood, you’ve heard that a well-balanced breakfast is crucial for your health and productivity. And while you might’ve been somewhat skeptical when a sugary cereal commercial told you about the importance of breakfast, we promise that they weren’t lying. Breakfast helps us fuel up our bodies and make good meal choices for the rest of the day. It kickstarts our metabolism as well, ensuring that it runs at its maximum power. Choosing a breakfast made out of the important building blocks—protein, fiber, vitamins and whole grains—will ensure that your day is as productive as it can be.

1. Fast, easy to assemble and full of nutrition, a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts is at the top of our breakfast wish list. The oatmeal offers fiber and whole grains, the nuts protein and the fruit a little added vitamins. Make sure to make your own oatmeal from scratch—you can do this ahead of time and eat it in small increments over the week—rather than prepackaged individual oatmeal servings. These tend to contain hidden sugars and chemicals that get in the way of the oatmeal’s natural goodness.

2. If you are looking for a weekend breakfast without a lot of added saturated fat, try some eggs (cooked with olive oil rather than butter), whole grain toast with honey, lean broiled sausage and an orange. If you are craving this protein-filled breakfast but don’t have time to sit down and enjoy it, just make a sandwich with the toast, eggs and meat.

3. Fruit smoothies are another great way to get a few servings of fruit in while you are on the go--- you will be so surprised how much fruit can fit in one small smoothie! Make your own with yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and flaxseed or coconut oil. You can even throw in a little spinach, effectively hiding its taste behind a stronger fruit. These are surprisingly filling!

4. Another weekend brunch option is a veggie omelet made with egg whites, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers and a little cheese (low fat, if you don’t mind it). Altogether, you can get protein and vitamins that you need from this quick and easy meal.

5. If you are going to eat cold cereal, make sure it isn’t hiding (or maybe not hiding) sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Try Kashi Go Lean Crunch with a little low-fat milk. This is so quick, time can’t be your excuse for unhealthy breakfasts any longer.

Not all breakfasts are created equal, however—do not reach for donuts or muffins in an attempt to meet your breakfast requirement. They are full of fat and sugar, giving you a quick high that will come crashing down significantly earlier than some of these healthier options. And no matter what you eat, be sure to eat a reasonable portion--- nothing is good in large quantities.

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Lactose Intolerance

A dairy fiend’s worst nightmare come true: being lactose intolerant.  This problem affects many people, and while not particularly deadly, it can prove to be a major annoyance when that pint of Ben and Jerry’s is calling your name.  Oh the sweet sweet creamy goodness of ice-cream...I digress.  Being lactose intolerant means that your small intestine can’t produce enough lactase to digest the sugar that is apparent in dairy products such as cheese, milk, and the aforementioned ice-cream.  This makes for one irritated tummy that lets its anger be known by symptoms of diarrhea, gas, bloating, and cramps.  What joy!  Almost as good as that ice-cream, right?  Here’s some handy facts about lactose intolerance:

Fact 1.

The most common demographics to be affected by lactose intolerance are Hispanic, Black, American Indian, and Asian people.  Other than people of Northern European descent, most stop producing lactase after the age of four.  Cancer radiation and premature birth can also cause lactose intolerance.

Fact 2.

The three main reasons that lactose intolerance appears: aging, which moves you past the stage of needing mother’s milk to survive.  Don’t know why nature didn’t factor in the love of cheese for that one!  Diseases or injuries affecting the small intestine can have the effect of causing lactose intolerance as well.  Some babies are simply born with congenital lactose intolerance, which doesn’t allow them to digest mommy’s milk, so they have to be fed lactose-free baby formula.

Fact 3.

For those in the know, there are ways to get around being lactose intolerant.  Consider yourself now part of the in-crowd because we’ll show you ways to leap that hurdle!  Having milk with food will slow the digestive process so that then the body can handle it.  Then there’s always the tip of eating dairy products slowly and in smaller quantities, which can also have the added benefit of ensuring that you don’t eat that whole pint of ice cream and gain 40 pounds, no matter how delicious it may be.  For the truly savvy, there’s lactose free renditions of otherwise lactose filled foods, so look for the ones minus the lactose.

Fact 4.

Some confuse lactose intolerance with irritable bowel syndrome because the discomfort can seem to be the same, so having a hydrogen breath test done can solve that concern.  A doctor will have you drink a liquid with plenty of lactose and then measure the hydrogen in your breath.  Sounds hot right?  Burpy goodness!  Those without intolerance will breath very little hydrogen, but the ones with the problem will have lactose fermenting in your colon and thus more hydrogen in your breath.

As of now, there is no way to induce lactase production in the small colon, so learning to live comfortably with lactose intolerance is important.  Decide what solution works for you and have at it!

Benefits of Good Posture and How to Get It

It is amazing what simply sitting up straight can do for your health! Taking a few seconds to properly position your shoulders over your pelvis is so easy—and with so many benefits—there is no excuse not to!

Benefit 1 - Health

Good posture is important in the prevention of neck and back pain and injuries. You will reduce strain on your joints and muscles that may suffer as you hold your body in an unnatural position. Slipped discs and strained muscles can be extremely painful, so do your best to avoid them.

Benefit 2 - Health

Did you know you can’t breathe as deeply if you slouch? Sitting up straight allows for your lungs to fully expand, increasing air flow. Improved air flow contributes to higher body and brain function, which is important in all aspects of life.

Benefit 3 - Health

You will improve your fitness level with good posture, as proper posture prevents worn joints that fatigue. You will recover more quickly and breathe better, as well, all important factors in an athletic body.

Benefit 4 - Health

Prolonged slouching can cause your spine to settle into a hunched or otherwise crooked position. This could require more serious repairs, like surgery.

Benefit 4 - Looks

By standing or sitting up straight, you improve the impression people get from you. Research shows that people who stand up at  full height appear more attractive, confident and capable to the members of the opposite sex. Slouching has the opposite effect, making people think you lack self-confidence and are weak.

If you have not followed the laws of posture, try these tips to help alleviate the damage:

Tip 1

Avoid carrying heavy items on the same side every day, and in general. A rolling bag is best for books and laptops.

Tip 2

Try pilates or yoga. Both can teach you to naturally sit up straight and improve your overall fitness.

Tip 3

When seated, plant your feet on the ground firmly. It will help you maintain balance in general.

Tip 4

Visit a chiropractor to help you assess your body’s alignment and get help in correcting it.

Tip 5

Invest in a healthy chair and bed for sleeping and working. This will help you better access the posture that will create health benefits for the rest of your life.

Don't wait, there is no excuse for you to keep slouching, work on your posture and start living a healthier life!

Why You Shouldn’t Take Creatine

Creatine has become increasingly popular with young athletes, as it promises to give the user extra energy with increased ATP production. Creatine offers a lot of the benefits of anabolic steroids without their serious side effects, but it has its own list of warnings to consider before beginning usage. Here are some things to think about before getting started on a Creatine regimen:

Internal Organ Risks

The heart, kidney and liver can be damaged by Creatine, particularly in those who have had prior problems with any of them. High dosages of Creatine are particularly bad for the kidneys, because a dangerous waste product must filter through them and has been known to cause collapse and kidney stones.

Lower Sports Performance

Disrupted water retention patterns linked to Creatine usage can cause weight gain and bloating. The swelling of water can cause muscle and tendon sprains, cramps and injuries, not to mention slow down performance in many athletic sports.

Stomach Issues (not cool)

Stomach issues like cramps, nausea, diarrhea, gas, loss of appetite and vomiting are also common. They typically occur when people ignore the normal dosages of Creatine, so pay attention to what is recommended.

You Can't Drink Coffee

Never combine Creatine with medications or herbal supplements, as many of them can cause serious and fatal results. Ephedra should never be taken at the same time as Creatine, and users should be sure to limit their caffeine intake. Some prescription medications can increase potential for dangerous complications, so check with a doctor before deciding to take any supplemental chemicals.

Babies Hate It

Pregnant or nursing women should avoid Creatine at all costs, and it is not recommended for teen usage as there is limited data on how it can affect a developing body.

Check with a doctor, adhere to proper dosages and be sure to purchase from a credible source, though there will always be some risk of dangerous complications. The long term effects of Creatine usage has not been studied, so be sure to have regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor the effect it has on your body.

4 Dietary Supplements You Should Add to Your Routine

Walk into any health store or vitamin aisle and it’s quite easy to become overwhelmed with the selection.  Will this work for me?  What does it do and what effect will it have?  Is this pill safe?  These are all valid questions that one may have when faced with bottle after bottle of supplements.  FDA requirements for supplements do not stipulate that a manufacturer show the product’s safety or effectiveness before it is sold, so consumers MUST look into what they are buying and why. Here’s a guide to some of the more effective options out there:


One of the most well known vitamins, and with good reason because it builds strong bones, affects the heart, and aids in the body’s metabolism. One issue with not getting enough calcium is that it can make people overweight because the body starts to release hormones for fat production because it feels that the body is starving.  Pretty much no one wants that to occur!  For the ladies, it can help with premenstrual mood swings, so bottoms up on a large glass of milk.  As a supplement, 1000 milligrams would make a great addition to any diet.

-Vitamin D

The best friend of calcium, helping it get acquainted with the body and showing it the ropes for fitting in with the cool kids by aiding in the absorption of calcium.  In addition, it helps with insulin secretion and boosts the immune system.  Pretty much, vitamin D is the perky cheerleader that you want on your side!  Super supportive and hardworking is its middle name.

-Folic acid (Vitamin B9)

An amazing addition to your regimen because it helps to impact the maturation of red blood cells which prevents anemia.  Most importantly, this vitamin is necessary for expectant mommies because folic acid prevents spinal cord deformities and brain damage in fetuses.. Taking this supplement early in the pregnancy can aid in preventing premature births as well.  The recommended amount for pregnant women is 400 micrograms a day, not to exceed 1000mcg.


Important for the immune system, strong muscles, as well as eyes, kidney, liver and much more.  This is one of those vitamins that you want to make sure that you have enough of, as it affects so much.  Along with a 450 milligram a day supplement, there are many delicious foods that you can consume in order to get your zinc, especially in protein rich foods like beef, lamb, salmon, cheese, peanuts, beans, and pumpkin seeds.

Be sure to consult a physician before starting any dietary supplement/regimen because different dosages may be better for certain people while others may benefit from a totally different group of vitamins all together.  These are just some of the key ones that most can use safely and effectively.

Fish Oil: What’s the Big Deal?

Look, we’re not going to lie to you—fish oil is gross. It tastes bad. But, like most things that taste bad, it’s great for you! Here are all the ways it can help you out, so pinch your nose and swallow it down:

1. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which promote anti-inflammation and disease prevention. Fish don’t make them on their own—they get them through consumption of microalgae or other fish that eat microalgae. Fish that are particularly abundant in these fatty acids are anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, menhaden, salmon, sardines, sturgeon and trout.

2. Fish oil has been lauded as a treatment for depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and cancer. The main reason people take it is to help cure heart disease and circulatory problems. Fish oil is known to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease and strokes. It is frequently relied upon to lower blood pressure after a heart transplant, as this can post-op damage to the kidneys and blood vessels.

3. Fish oil is low in saturated fat and high in protein. You don’t have to drink it, though—try baking or boiling fish for dinner twice a week, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

4. You can take fish oil via a supplement if the oil itself grosses you out. These supplements come with added benefits like calcium, iron, and vitamins like A, C, and D. Take up to 3 grams a day, but no more.

Consume fish and fish oil in moderation to avoid any possible side effects, like nausea or mercury poisoning. If you would like to add additional omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, look up what plants and nuts can help you out. The benefits of this addition will certainly make any bad taste worthwhile!

Is Tempur-Pedic a Legit Way to Reduce Back Pain?

Sure, they push it during late-night infomercials, showing the glass of wine that doesn’t tip over when you jump on the bed—but is all that foam actually good for you? Some people like soft mattresses and others hard, but memory foam is in a category all its own—and it’s not cheap. Here’s what getting a Tempur-pedic mattress will do for you:

Tempur-pedic foam was developed by NASA to be a material that can withstand strong g-forces like those in space, but it was a group of Swedish scientists that decided to market it as a sleep surface on earth. On a microscopic level, it has a cellular structure, with billions of cells that breathe and form themselves to an individuals’ motion during sleep.

The Tempur-pedic website suggests that the spinal benefits of the material come from its layers, each with a different base that relieves different pressure while maximizing comfort. The top layer reacts to your body temperature and weight, the second layer distributes your weight and allows your spine to lay in perfect alignment, and the third increases airflow, comfort and responsiveness.

The mattress’ foam material allows your body to retain its natural curvature while it is supported. Traditional, box spring mattresses use counter-pressure to force your body to conform to it—rather than having it conform to you. This can cause poor sleep, pressure points, reduced blood flow and back pain.

Some people consider the Tempur-pedic the best mattress on the market because of what it did for their back pain. Others think it is a big waste of money, and many of those involved with medicine have trouble seeing how the spinal cord benefits from this foam.

The back depends on gravity to compress the spine while you stand and to spread it apart at night while you lay down. The nighttime is when your spine can absorb minerals and nutrients lost to it during the day’s compression. Tempur-pedic mattresses allow your shoulders to sink into the foam, thus preventing your spine from moving during the night. It is this motion that causes the decompression that your back needs during the night, so your discs never get the proteins necessary to rebuild or remove waste build up. This too can cause bulged discs and chronic pain.

This is really a decision that you need to make for yourself, as different people have different needs for their back. Firm mattresses typically aggravate spinal cord problems, but for some people foam does the same thing. It is also a good idea to consider adjustable beds and air mattresses. Take advantage of stores that allow you to try a mattress for 30 days, and find out what is the best choice for you.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Acupuncture

Acupuncture, the therapy that inserts strategically placed needles to alleviate pain, has been dated back to as early as the BC China dynasties. Different variations of acupuncture are taught and practiced throughout the world, but not without controversy in the scientific community. There are a lot of things you may have heard about acupuncture, but here are some facts about the alternative medical practice—some new ones and some to dispel the rumors.

  1. Acupuncture is an effective way to control weight.
  2. Acupuncture doesn’t hurt. Most people who have tried it say they only feel a tiny prick, if anything at all.
  3. No tissue is damaged when the very fine needle pierces the skin
  4. Acupuncture centers you so you can keep weight off
  5. Acupuncturists can guide you towards good nutrition and exercise regimens
  6. Acupuncture increases your body’s release of endorphins, which controls pain and leads to feeling calm and satisfied
  7. Scientific research has backed up Acupuncture’s claim to holistic wellness, including studies sponsored by The Journal of Medical Acupuncture and the University of Adelaide in Australia
  8. Many medical doctors believe that supplementing western medicine with some alternative treatments can help patients of all kinds, with all kinds of problems.
  9. Some doctors even have acupuncturists that they routinely recommend to their patients.

Different things work for different people, and for some, acupuncture provides the extra energy your body needs to get to a healthy weight. Keep your options open by knowing the facts about whatever you consider—and talk to a licensed acupuncturist if you have questions about what acupuncture can do for you.

Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad for You?

Short answer is: No.

But don’t stop reading! Don’t you want to know what actually happens when you make that little popping sound? And what if you do it regularly for years-- could it hurt you then?

The myth about the damage that cracking knuckles does came from the sound that it makes—people thought that when you make the cracking sound, you must be breaking something. That is not the case!

At a joint, where two bones meet, there is a covering of articular cartilage. The bones are held together by other connective tissues like ligaments as well. The joint capsule surrounds the joint, containing the lubrication to help move the joint. This lubrication is called sinovial fluid, and it is made from dissolved oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

To crack a knuckle, you first stretch the bones apart, creating extra space in the connective tissue capsule. The increased volume decreases the pressure, and the sinovial fluid expands. The pressure also releases the dissolved gasses rapidly, causing the cracks. Bubbles bursting in the sinovial fluid are called cavitation, and it happens when the gasses become less soluble in the fluid.

After you crack your joints the first time, you won’t be able to do it again for the next 30 minutes while the gas dissolves back into the joint fluid. Try it out—30 minutes later, you will definitely be able to pop the same joints again. Releasing the pressure feels great, doesn’t it? The only real problem or damage that cracking joints could cause comes from forceful cracking—so just do it when you feel the pressure building.

Numerous studies have shown that cracking knuckles do not lead to arthritis, but there is a relationship between knuckle-cracking and hand swelling, loss of lower grip strength, ligament damage, soft tissue injuries and dislocation of tendons. This is really only the result of rapid, repeated stretching of ligaments, like what happens to major league pitchers. Risk is minimal for the rest of us, however.

There is evidence that cracking does increase mobility in joints, though! When joints are cracked, the Golgi tendon organs (a group of nerve endings involved in human motion sense) get stimulated and relax nearby muscles. That is why you feel loose and invigorated after an adjustment in the chiropractor’s office!

Click here to read more about our Chicago Chiropractic Clinic.

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