The Wellness Blog

Cocoa: A Sweet Prescription for Your Health

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 @ 09:00 AM


Millions of people turn to chocolate for instant stress relief. And the research shows that its stress-melting power is real.

Chocolate contains the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, serotonin. It also contains the natural relaxant, tryptophan. Scientists have also discovered compounds that mimic cannabinoids (the active chemicals in marijuana).

It’s no wonder that chocolate is the world’s most widely craved food.1  Millions admit that they are “addicted” to it. We even have a name for these people – chocoholics.

But the benefits of this ancient food go way beyond pleasure and stress relief. In fact, chocolate – and specifically cocoa – is one of the most potent superfoods known to science.

In just a moment, I’ll tell you one of my favorite ways to consume cocoa. But first, let’s discuss those amazing health benefits…

The fruits of Theobroma cacao have been revered as food (and medicine) for more than 4,000 years. Modern science confirms that the medicinal qualities of cocoa are quite real.

Sip Your Way Younger with Antioxidant-Rich Cocoa

The most powerful benefits of cocoa come from its broad range of antioxidants. In fact, cocoa is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks the antioxidant power of foods by their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Foods with a higher ORAC score have a greater ability to neutralize “free radicals” – reactive molecules that accelerate aging and increase the risk of disease.

On a per-serving basis, cocoa contains twice the antioxidant power of red wine, three times that of green tea, and 12 times the antioxidant value of blueberries!2

And these are not the only vital nutrients it contains…

Boost Magnesium (and Your Health) with Cocoa

The mineral magnesium is required for more than 300 functions in your body.

Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. It supports the immune system. It promotes blood sugar control and healthy metabolism. It helps regulate your heartbeat and supports healthy blood pressure.

The bad news is that almost 70% of the U.S. population is deficient! The good news is that delicious cocoa is one of the richest plant-based sources of magnesium.

This could explain why an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study revealed that insulin resistance was significantly lower in individuals who consumed the dark chocolate (compared to subjects who consumed white chocolate). The “dark chocolate group” also showed lower systolic blood pressure.3

Protect Your Heart & Sharpen Your Mind

Cocoa is also powerfully protective for your heart and circulatory system…

One way that it does this is by activating nitric oxide, which increases circulation and helps prevent red blood cells from clumping together to create blockages. Cocoa has also been shown to benefit blood pressure and promote supple arteries.4,5 

The flavonols in cocoa have also been shown to improve cognition.

In a study published in Hypertension, 90 elderly individuals consumed high (990 mg), intermediate (520 mg) or low (45 mg) amounts of cocoa flavonols each day for eight weeks. At the end of the study, the subjects performed a visual attention and task switching test. Those who consumed “high” and “intermediate” levels of flavonols performed much better than those in the “low” group.6

The researchers also commented that the subjects’ verbal fluency significantly improved.

There are many possible reasons for the brain-boosting benefits of cocoa. And increased circulation would be one of those reasons. In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that consumption of cocoa caused a “striking blood flow response” to the brain and was associated with improved brain function.

When It Comes to Cocoa… Don’t Go Dutch!

Unfortunately, most forms of cocoa are laden with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin (GMO) and often trans-fat (particularly in the case of commercial “hot cocoa”).

Most commercial cocoa is also “Dutch” processed – a form of processing used to reduce bitterness, darken color, and create a milder flavor. Unfortunately, studies suggest that it also destroys 60 to 90 percent of the antioxidant value!

The good news is that non-Dutched or “natural” cocoa is available. And many people believe it tastes even better with the full range of flavor and nutrients intact.

And that brings me to…

My Favorite Way(s) to Consume Organic, Natural Cocoa

As the creator of the product, I admit to being (slightly) biased, but Wellness Bakeries Drinking Chocolate is a product that I use every week.

It is made with the highest quality organic cocoa – and never Dutch processed – to ensure that the flavonoids, catechins, procyanadins and other powerful antioxidants are as strong as Mother Nature intended.

Drinking Chocolate is naturally sweetened with stevia and erythritol and contains zero grams of sugar. We also supplement the mix with inulin – a lightly sweet prebiotic fiber – that adds a creamy mouthfeel and helps to feed your healthy gut bacteria. Finally, we add a pinch of mineral-rich primordial salt and a hint of organic Tahitian vanilla.

The result is a rich source of cocoa that is not only delicious and healthy… but versatile too.

You can add it to your (hot or cold) drink of choice, including milk or cream, water, coconut or almond milk. Kids especially love the rich, creamy and sweet chocolate milk you can whip up with a quick stir! It also makes a fine addition to coffee – and according to a study published in Physiology & Behavior - the combination of theobromine and caffeine has been shown to benefit both mood and cognition.7 Drinking Chocolate is also a great way to enhance unsweetened organic yogurts and boost the sweetness and antioxidants in your favorite smoothies.

The best part is that you can enjoy this sweet treat – knowing that you are also supporting your mind and your health.


Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.


  1. University of Bristol. (2007, September 12). Chocolate Is The Most Widely Craved Food, But Is It Really Addictive?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 22, 2017 from
  2. American Chemical Society. (2003, November 6). Hot Cocoa Tops Red Wine And Tea In Antioxidants; May Be Healthier Choice. ScienceDaily.
  3. Grassi D, Lippi C, Necozione S, Desideri G, Ferri C. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(3):611-4.
  4. Taubert D, et al. Chocolate and blood pressure in elderly individuals with isolated systolic hypertension. JAMA. 2003 Aug 27;290(8):1029-30.
  5. F Hermasnn. LE Spieker. F Ruschitzka. Dark chocolate improves endothelial and platelet function. Dark chocolate improves endothelial and platelet function. Heart . Volume 92, Issue 1
  6. Desideri G, Kwik-Uribe C, Grassi D, et al. Benefits in Cognitive Function, Blood Pressure, and Insulin Resistance Through Cocoa Flavanol Consumption in Elderly Subjects With Mild Cognitive Impairment. Hypertension. 2012;60:794-801.
  7. Mitchella ES, Slettenaara M, vd Meera N, Translera C, Jansb L, Quadta F, Berry M. Differential contributions of theobromine and caffeine on mood, psychomotor performance and blood pressure. Physiology & Behavior. 2011; 104(5):816–822.

Topics: Product Information, Good Fats

US Wellness Feature Farmer Series: Grass Roots Farms

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 @ 03:53 PM

We source our free range poultry products from a few different farms throughout the United States. One of our biggest suppliers is Grass Roots.

What makes Grass Roots special? Lots of things!

The Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative is a farmer-owned organization of Arkansas livestock farmers, all committed to the highest sustainable farming standards- pasture raised animals and environmentally friendly practices. 

Operating as a co-op, small farms are able to share resources and responsibilities, which makes processing, marketing, and distribution more efficicent and cost effective. This means that farmers can focus on the quality of meats and Grass Roots' staff can focus on meeting customer expectations. 

Some farms in the co-op have been in business for 10 years and span anywhere from 40 to 200 acres. The co-op consists of a total of 10 farms. 


What makes Grass Roots' poultry products so special? Lots of things!

All our animals are raised on pasture using carefully studied rotational grazing techniques. Because we believe that comfortable, happy animals result in a better product—both for you and for the environment—none of our annimals are ever fed antibiotics or growth hormones.  

What breed are the birds?

The birds are Cornish.

Are antibiotics ever used or added hormones administered?

No antibiotics or growth hormones are given to the birds.

How are they raised?

All chickens are raised in floorless schooners that are moved daily to fresh pasture. The birds are raised in small flock sizes and are given lots of room to move and scratch. 

Are pesticides, herbicides, etc. sprayed on the fields themselves?




What is their diet? 

Because chickens have a single stomach, they cannot be raised on grass alone. The chickens are given a mineral-rich grain ration that contains no hormones, antibiotics or GMOs. They have a mild and slighly nutty profile that can be attributed to the grasses and clovers they forage out of the partusre and the quality of the GMO-free ration that includes whole roasted soybeans.

At what age are the birds harvested?

The harvest age is 8 weeks and weight is 4 pounds. The birds are air chilled.

Anything else you would like to share?

All products are source verified. Each package is stamped with a farm-of-origin label so that you know exactly which Grass Roots farmer raised the chicken you're serving your family. They even go further, hosting "show me the pasture" tours that are open to all customers. 

If you enjoyed learning about Grass Roots Farms, you may also love these past posts in our Featured Farmer Series:

Wild Idea Buffalo

Cattle Farmer John Bruce

Gunthorp Farms

Topics: Product Information, Our Farms, Free-Range Poultry

6 Ways to Boost Nutrient Absorption - Part 2

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Sat, Mar 11, 2017 @ 08:00 AM


In my previous article, I showed you the many ways your ability to absorb nutrients (and therefore your health) can be compromised.

Today I’ll share with you six simple tips to maximize the nutrition you absorb from your food, bringing more health-promoting nutrients to your cells… and more vitality to your life.

Nutrient Booster #1 - Betaine HCL

Low stomach acid (known as hypochlorhydria) is a common cause of poor gastrointestinal health and malnutrition. It might seem strange, but acid reflux, or heartburn, is a frequent symptom of low stomach acid. When people with this condition use acid blockers, it further reduces acidity in the gut and makes it even more difficult to break down food and absorb its nutrients!

Betaine HCL is a supplement that can be used to slowly raise your body’s natural hydrochloric acid levels. It is important to always take betaine HCL at the start of a meal. If it is taken without food, stomach burning may result.

If you notice a significant burning sensation in your gut after you’ve taken betaine HCL with a meal, this is an indication that your stomach is overproducing acid. Stop using the supplement. It is also important that those who take corticosteroids, aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other NSAID pain relievers only use betaine HCL under the guidance of a physician. These types of medications can already damage the GI lining, supplementing with HCL could aggravate that damage.

How to Take Betaine HCL Safely

1.  Eat a meal that contains at least 15-20 grams of high quality protein (grass-fed beef, pastured pork, wild fish, pastured chicken or turkey).
2.  Take only one pill (650 mg or less) at the beginning of the meal.
3.  After you’ve finished your meal, observe your body for any changes in feeling in the stomach and belly button area. If you feel heaviness, hotness, burning, or other GI distress, the current dosage may be too high or it may be just enough. Try the same dosage the next day and observe again.
4.  If you don’t notice any sensations after taking one pill, stay at the same dosage for another day of meals. If you still don’t notice anything on the third day, try taking two pills.
5.  If you still notice no symptoms, try three pills.
6.  Once you feel slight burning, heaviness, and other GI sensations, stop increasing your dose. You have found the correct dose.

After a while, you will be able to taper off the supplement as your digestive system begins making enough hydrochloric acid on its own.

Nutrient Booster #2 – Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) with the “Mother”

A gentler alternative to betaine HCL is apple cider vinegar (ACV). Always use the raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the “mother” as it is rich in proteins, enzymes, and friendly probiotic bacteria.

Build up your dose of ACV gradually, just like you would with the betaine HCL. Begin with one teaspoon mixed into a 4-ounce glass of water, and take it 20 minutes before your meal. At your next meal, repeat the same process. Increase the dosage to one more teaspoon each day until you notice a mild burning sensation in your gut.

For example:

•  Day 1: Take 1 teaspoon in a 4-ounce glass of water 20 minutes before each meal. Observe for stomach sensations.
•  Day 2: Take 2 teaspoons in a 4-ounce glass of water 20 minutes before each meal. Observe for stomach sensations.
•  Day 3: Take 3 teaspoons in a 4-ounce glass of water 20 minutes before each meal. Observe for stomach sensations.

As soon as you feel slight burning, tingling or heaviness in your stomach, you’ve found the right dosage. Continue with that dosage, slowly tapering down if stomach sensations become uncomfortable.

Nutrient Booster #3 - Probiotics

Those of us living with inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, or any other type of chronic digestive disorder will more than likely struggle with nutrient absorption.

This is why probiotics are so important. Probiotics are the “good” gut bacteria that help heal leaky gut syndrome, ease inflammation and improve nutrient uptake from food.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, just one dose of a probiotic strain called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, colonizes the digestive tract and keeps it teeming with good bacteria for up to seven days! Traveler’s diarrhea, antibiotic-resistant diarrhea, and relapsing Clostridium difficile colitis are all noticeably improved with LGG supplementation.

This powerful probiotic strain had also provides beneficial effects on intestinal immunity by increasing the number of IgA (antibodies that play a crucial role immune function) and other immunoglobulin-secreting cells in the intestinal mucosa.1

In addition to taking a high quality probiotic supplement, be sure to add lacto-fermented foods like real sauerkraut and pickles, kimchi and kombucha to your daily diet.

Nutrient Booster #4 - Eat Vegetables with Healthy Fat

Although mainstream nutritional advice often leaves out this critical information, how we combine our food is just as important as what type of food we’re eating.

One example of healthy food combining is eating vegetables with healthy fat. In order for fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A, D, E, and K (as well as lipid-soluble phytonutrients like curcumin, lycopene, astaxanthin and more) to be properly absorbed, they must be consumed with healthy fat.

In addition to cooking with highly stable animal fats including grass-fed tallow, pastured lard and duck fat, also include nutrient-boosting avocado (or avocado oil) in your diet.

During a clinical trial that published its results in the Journal of Nutrition, 12 healthy men and women were recruited for two randomized, two-way crossover studies. In each study, one meal was served with fresh avocado, and one was not.

In the first study, tomato sauce high in pro-vitamin A carotenoids and beta carotene was served. Some study participants received fresh avocado along with the sauce, and some did not.

After nutrient absorption testing, it was revealed the avocado enhanced beta carotene absorption by 2.4 times.

In the second study, the source of pro-vitamin A carotenoids was raw carrots. After testing, study participants who ate avocado showed a 6.6-fold increase in beta carotene absorption.2 

Nutrient Booster #5 - Limit Liquid Intake With Meals

When we drink water, soda, tea, or coffee during meals, it dilutes the HCL in our stomachs and reduces our ability to digest food. Because of this, it is better to drink no more than a 2-ounce glass of water during a meal.

Nutrient Booster #6 - Slow Down and Chew Your Food Well

Most of us are so busy, sometimes eating a meal seems like just another chore to get out of the way. Because of this, we may give into the temptation to shovel the food down as fast as we can, not tasting it, and wonder why we feel bloated and uncomfortable later on.

Digestion begins in the mouth. The moment we start chewing, an enzyme in our saliva (called amylase) helps break down large food particles into smaller ones, making the food easier for our stomachs to digest.  

Here are some quick tips to slowing down during a meal:

•  Take smaller bites.
•  Chew slowly and mindfully. Savor the flavor and texture of the food.
•  Avoid taking another bite until you have swallowed.

Maximizing nutrient absorption is just as important as choosing nutrient-dense foods. So fill your plate with brightly colored veggies, healthy sources of fat and ancestral superfoods like liver (and other organ meats), bone broth, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, and wild seafood… and then maximize your absorption of these nutrient powerhouses with the tips above.

Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.



  1. Gorbacha, L, Sherwood (M.D). Probiotics and the Microflora of the Human Intestine: Probiotics and gastrointestinal health. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. January 2000. Volume 95, Issue 1, Supplement 1, Pages S2–S4.

  2. Kopec RE, Cooperstone JL, Schweiggert RM, et al. Avocado consumption enhances human postprandial provitamin A absorption and conversion from a novel high-β-carotene tomato sauce and from carrots. J Nutr. 2014;144(8):1158-66.

Topics: Product Information, Good Fats

Maximizing Nutrient Absorption – Part 1

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 @ 08:00 AM


When it comes to health and nutrition, we’ve all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.”

And this is true… to an extent.

However, it’s more accurate to say, “You are not only what you eat… but, rather, what you absorb.”

Because no matter how healthy your diet is, if your body is incapable of absorbing precious nutrients, they’ll go right down the drain – literally. And while that’s not good for your body, it doesn’t do any favors for your wallet either!

When you take the time to select, purchase, prepare and eat healthy foods, you’re making a real investment in your health. It is important to make your healthy efforts count – nutritionally and financially – by understanding the common barriers to nutrient absorption and learning to maximize the nutrients you absorb from every bite of food.

Do You Have Poor Digestion?

One of the most important factors in nutrient absorption is enzymes. The primary purpose of digestive enzymes is to break the chemical bonds in fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, turning these compounds into microscopic substances that can be used at the cellular level. Without these enzymes, nutrients remain locked in the food and never reach the cells that need them.

Although our bodies exhibit plenty of warning signs of nutrient malabsorption, we have a tendency to ignore them because digestive discomfort has become so common in our day and age, it almost feels normal.

Here are some common symptoms of poor digestion:

•    Bloating
•    Excessive gas
•    Loudly gurgling intestines
•    Heartburn and/or acid reflux
•    Feeling ‘full’ hours after a meal

Five Factors That Compromise Nutrient Absorption

There are a number of factors that can compromise your ability to absorb nutrients.

#1 - Low Stomach Acid

Hyperchlorhydria (low stomach acid) isn’t a term you often hear, even though it is quite common and a prevalent cause of nutrient malabsorption.

When we suffer from heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, and excessive gas, we often look to acid reducers to provide relief. The fault in this approach is that the symptoms of low stomach acid are nearly identical to those of excessive stomach acid!

Using acid reducers to treat stomach problems can make the problem much worse.

#2 - Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the lining of the digestive tract becomes more porous than it should be, allowing toxins, yeast, bacteria, fungi, and bits of undigested food into the bloodstream. Common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include:

•    Gas and bloating
•    Candida overgrowth
•    Constipation or diarrhea
•    Allergies and food intolerances

When our guts become leaky, not only do we not get enough nutrients from the food we eat, we also run the risk of chronic inflammation, which can cause a host of even more troubling health problems.

According to an article published in Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology, “Together with the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and the neuroendocrine network, the intestinal epithelial barrier controls the equilibrium between tolerance and immunity to non-self antigens.” 1

When the intestinal barrier thins and the immune system can no longer recognize itself from harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi, autoimmune illness (including IBS, Chrohn’s disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome) often follows.

The good news is that once the intestinal barrier function is re-established, inflammation is reduced and these diseases can potentially go into remission.

#3 - Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

While bacterium is naturally present in the digestive tract, in a healthy body, the small intestine contains relatively low levels.

However, in the case of SIBO, high concentrations of bacteria are found in the small intestine. This can affect both the structure and function of the small bowel. It can interfere with digestion and absorption and cause serious health problems.

According to a study published by JAMA, “Nearly all of the symptoms and findings of IBS are wholly consistent with SIBO.”

The study goes on to reveal that post-meal bloating, gas, impaired gut motility, abdominal pain and sensitivity, abnormal brain-gut interactions and immune activation are nearly universal among those diagnosed with IBS or SIBO. 2

SIBO not only affects our guts, it can also cause neurological problems and trigger autoimmune disease!

#4 - Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can also affect nutrient absorption. First, it decreases the secretion of digestive enzymes, making it harder to break down food. Excess alcohol also damages the cells lining the stomach and intestines, making it harder for nutrients (especially zinc and folate) to enter the bloodstream.

#5 - Consumption of Anti-Nutrients

Anti-nutrients are compounds (either synthetic or natural) that interfere with the absorption of nutrients from other foods or supplements consumed at the same time. Here are three key anti-nutrients, what they do and where they are found:

Phytic Acid

This anti-nutrient is found in all edible seeds, grains, legumes, roots, and tubers. Nuts also contain varying quantities.

One of the problems is that it significantly reduces essential mineral absorption. For example, phytic acid prevents the uptake of phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Phytic acid also inhibits essential digestive enzymes including amylase, trypsin, and pepsin.

The good news is that in a well-balanced diet, phytic acid is rarely a concern. This is especially true for omnivores. From a study published in the Journal of Nutrition: “…relatively small amounts of animal protein can significantly improve the value of a legume-based meal as a source of zinc.” 3


Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, which causes severe gastrointestinal distress to millions. It may be the ‘ultimate’ anti-nutrient because it is still widely-consumed as a staple of our modern diet. Because of this, it seems to be the one that causes the most damage.

Gluten is an enzyme inhibitor. It has been shown to cause serious digestive problems, even among those who do not have celiac disease. Gluten contributes directly to leaky gut syndrome, which can result in autoimmune disease, allergies, and cognitive impairment.

When our guts don’t work right, our brains don’t, either. This is especially true in the case of non-celiac gluten intolerance. According to several studies referenced in Psychiatric Quarterly, the relationship between celiac disease and neurological/psychiatric complications has been observed for over 40 years.

However, when there is a lack of gastrointestinal symptoms, gluten sensitivity may be overlooked when only psychiatric or neurological symptoms are present. Data suggests that up to 57 percent of people with neurological dysfunction of unknown origin test positive for anti-gliadin antibodies (an autoimmune reaction to gluten). 4


Oxalates are naturally-occurring molecules found in plants and humans. For those with healthy, well-functioning guts, oxalates are rarely a problem.

However, if the digestive tract does not contain enough healthy bacteria to break down oxalates before they can reach other parts of the body, there is an increased risk for chronic pain, inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune conditions.

Oxalates are found in the highest quantities in black and brown millet, sesame seeds, and soybeans.

Healing our damaged guts and achieving maximum nutrient absorption is our primary goal because it has the potential to ‘fix’ almost every other disease and condition we have!

Now that you’ve learned about nutrient depletion and the five key factors that compromise your absorption of nutrients… in my next article, I will share six specific ways you can boost your nutrient absorption. 


Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.



  1. Fasano A. Leaky gut and autoimmune diseases. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2012;42(1):71-8.

  2.  Lin HC. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: a framework for understanding irritable bowel syndrome. JAMA. 2004;292(7):852-8.

  3.  Sandström B, Almgren A, Kivistö B, Cederblad A. Effect of protein level and protein source on zinc absorption in humans. J Nutr. 1989;119(1):48-53.

  4.  Jackson JR, Eaton WW, Cascella NG, Fasano A, Kelly DL. Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity. The Psychiatric quarterly. 2012;83(1):91-102. doi:10.1007/s11126-011-9186-y.

Topics: Product Information, Good Fats

US Wellness Feature Farmer Series: Gunthorp Farms

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 @ 12:20 PM

Great news! US Wellness Meats is happy to announce that pasture raised ground turkey is back in stock! 

Our pasture raised ground turkey is now sourced from Gunthorp Farms in LaGrange, Indiana. We invite you to learn more about the Gunthorps and their small family farm.

What makes Gunthorp Farms special? Lots of things!

In 1998, Greg Gunthorp was selling hogs to the commodity market for less than his grandfather had during the Great Depression. Being a 4th generation pastured hog farmer, quitting did not seem like an option, so he knew he had to do something different. After a long string of events, Gunthorp sold his first hog to an upscale restaurant, but not just any restaurant - Charlie Trotter's in Chicago!

Since that first hog, Gunthorp has expanded to raising not only hogs, but also chickens, turkeys, and ducks (all on pasture without use of antibiotics, the same way the family has done for generations). He built a USDA inspected meat processing plant on the farm as well to give control of the product, all the way from farm-to-table. 

Gunthorp Farms does a whole line of products; from whole animal carcasses to portioned cuts like chops and chicken breasts to a full line of ground products and smoked meats. 

Gunthorp Farms also does all their own distribution to upscale restaurants and retail locations - primarily in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne areas. 

Gunthorp Farms is proud to be a small family business, with Greg and his wife Lei and their three children all playing key roles in the success of the business. They also employ approximately 20 full-time and 10 part-time employees.

IMG_1481 2.jpg

The Gunthorp family prides themselves in being advocates for rural development, sustainable agriculture, and very small niche meat processing. 

What makes Gunthorp Farms' ground turkey so special? Lots of things! 

How are they raised? 

The ground turkey is sourced from Broad breasted white birds. The birds are pasture raised without the use of antibiotics. They are never given any added hormones or drug treatments. 


What are they fed?

The turkeys are pasture raised from 7 weeks. They are fed non-GMO corn and non-GMO soybeans. 

How are they harvested? 

The birds are harvested on the farm in a USDA inspected meat processing plant. The plant is certified organic, therefore all interventions are OMRI approved. The birds are harvested at 16-24 weeks old and 12-24 pounds.

The birds are grown and harvested seasonally in northeast Indiana when there is green grass. Frozen turkey is available after the growing season. 

one turkey-1.jpg

If you enjoyed learning about Gunthorp Farms, you may also love these past posts in our Featured Farmer Series:

Wild Idea Buffalo

Cattle Farmer John Bruce

US Wellness Meats Farmers and Partners


Topics: Product Information, Our Farms, Free-Range Poultry

Six Reasons You Might be Nutrient Depleted – and the Solution

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 @ 12:14 PM


In a country where obesity is epidemic, it might seem contradictory that most of us are starving for nutrients. The truth is, most of us are overfed… and undernourished.

The results are flabby physiques, lowered immunity and increased risk of chronic disease.  

Today, you’ll discover the six key causes of nutrient deficiency and the easy ways to infuse your body with health-promoting nutrients.

#1 – Inadequate Nutrient Intake

It’s no surprise that the most common cause of nutrient depletion is poor food choices. According to a CDC press release, not one state population is consuming enough fruits and vegetables to get the phytonutrients our bodies desperately need.1

“No U.S. state is meeting national objectives for consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to the first report to provide state–by–state data about fruit and vegetable consumption and policies that may help Americans eat more fruits and vegetables.”

#2 - Poor Nutrient Absorption

In addition to poor food choices, millions of people live with gastrointestinal disorders that make it difficult to absorb and utilize what little nutrients we do take in.

•  Celiac Disease: When a person with celiac eats gluten, the tiny, hair-like projections that line the small intestine (called villi) become inflamed and flattened. Once the villi become damaged, they are no longer able to properly absorb vital nutrients.

•  Crohn’s Disease: An inflammatory bowel disorder that causes obstructions or blockages in the intestinal tract. A combination of inflammation and excessive diarrhea can cause chronic malnutrition.

•  Ulcerative Colitis: Causes chronic inflammation of the large intestine, which can result in micro-tears of the colon and also leads to poor nutrient absorption.2 

•  Dysbiosis:  Your inner ecosystem is essential to assimilate (and even synthesize) nutrients. The use of antibiotics, NSAID pain relievers, antacids and other drugs can lead to a state of gut dysbiosis where “bad” bacterial strains outnumber the good. This can cause serious and long-term malnutrition.

•  Low Stomach Acid: As we age, stomach acid is reduced… and so does our ability to properly break down food and assimilate nutrients. 

#3 - Nutrient-Depleted Meat and Produce

Conventional farming practices, administration of growth hormones and antibiotics and grain-based feed significantly reduces the nutritional value of meat, seafood, milk and eggs.

Excessive use of pesticides, planting of genetically modified organisms, inadequate crop rotation and poor soil management has significantly depleted the nutrients in our soil. The result is crops with a fraction of the nutrients of yesteryear.

Long distance shipping of produce can also lead to significant nutrient loss.

#4 - Elevated Nutrient Requirement

Millions of us live with one or more autoimmune conditions. When we have a chronic illness, our nutritional needs are elevated for healing and recovery. When the immune system is in a constant state of battle, nutrient requirements stay high. Ironically, it is often inflammation caused by the illness itself that prevents the proper absorption of these vital nutrients.

#5 - Changes in Metabolism

Metabolic changes triggered by environmental pollution, excessive alcohol consumption, drugs and certain diseases are also a common cause of malnutrition.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, genetic variation has been shown to affect both food tolerances and dietary requirements.3  In other words, your own unique biochemistry may cause higher needs for specific nutrients. 

#6 - Low Food Diversity – Eating the Same Foods Over and Over

We like what we eat… and we eat what we like, right?

When something is affordable, quick and in our dietary comfort zone, we are often eat the same dishes day in and day out, week after week, month after month. And among all causes nutrient depletion, this may be the most overlooked.

Despite what our minds want, our bodies crave diversity. Our Paleolithic ancestors consumed a diet including more than 200 species of plants. And when it came to hunting, organ meats were the most prized. This is a stark contrast to the modern American diet.

The Nutrient Depletion Solution

The solution to nutrient depletion is quite simple. First, ensure you properly absorbing nutrients from your food. A functional medicine practitioner can help determine any imbalances or inadequacies you may have and work with you to correct those.

Next, choose the foods with the most “nutritional bang per bite” including:

•  Organic produce, ideally picked at its peak and enjoyed shortly thereafter. Aim for 7-9 servings of above-ground, non-starchy veggies per day

•  Grass-fed meats like Beef, Bison, and Lamb,  pasture-raised pork and poultry, wild seafood and eggs from free roaming chicken

•  Bone marrow and nutrient-dense bone broth (enjoy daily as a delicious, drinkable “supplement”)

•  Organ meats – especially liver (chicken, beef and bison liver, braunschweiger, liverwurst) and heart (beef and chicken hearts) and beef and lamb sweetbreads. Enjoy organ meats a few times per week to supercharge your diet with powerful nutrients and correct nutritional deficiencies.


Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.



  1. Majority of Americans Not Meeting Recommendations for Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
    CDC. September 29th, 2009
  2. Mijac DD, Janković GL, Jorga J, Krstić MN. Nutritional status in patients with active inflammatory bowel disease: prevalence of malnutrition and methods for routine nutritional assessment. Eur J Intern Med. 2010;21(4):315-9.
  3. Stover PJ. Influence of human genetic variation on nutritional requirements. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(2):436S-442S.

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What Is a Low Oxalate Diet (And How Can It Heal Your Strange Symptoms?)

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 10:06 AM


Have you found yourself struggling with strange symptoms… yet your doctor can’t seem to find the cause?

If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people are living with hidden autoimmune conditions, allergies, and food sensitivities that make them miserable, but often don’t show up on standard medical tests.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and peanut allergies.

But, did you know that there are a myriad of other food sensitivities that have just recently been brought into the mainstream? These include, but are certainly not limited to, histamine sensitivity, salicylate sensitivity, and oxalate sensitivity.

What Are Oxalates?

Oxalates are chemical compounds found in many green vegetables and other “healthy” foods. Your body produces them as waste products, as well.

In most individuals, oxalates are not absorbed by the gut, but are instead metabolized by healthy gut bacteria or eliminated as waste products.

However, for a small percentage of people, the body may absorb too much oxalate from food sources and have difficulty eliminating it.

Symptoms of Oxalate Sensitivity

When oxalates accumulate in the body, they can cause a host of strange and frustrating symptoms that are difficult to diagnose and treat.

This is because when too many oxalates are absorbed into the bloodstream via the gut, they can form sharp oxalate crystals. These crystals are able to wedge themselves into just about any one of your healthy tissues, which can result in chronic pain and inflammation.

Furthermore, excessive amounts of oxalate can lead to oxidative damage and the depletion of an essential substance called glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier. It is vital for metabolizing the toxins.

“Deficiency of glutathione contributes to oxidative stress, which plays a major role in several lifestyle diseases.”

Some examples of the damage that can be done by glutathione deficiency include:

•    Inability to repair DNA
•    Toxin and heavy metal accumulation
•    Greatly reduced ability to detoxify
•    Reduced oxygen and nutrient supply to cells
•    Weakened cell membranes
•    Cellular mutations
•    Cellular death

Another problem with excess oxalates in the body is that they can bind to minerals in the gut and prevent the body from absorbing them.

All these factors combine to cause the following symptoms: 

•    Kidney stones
•    Burning urination
•    Interstitial cystitis (burning bladder)
•    Vulvodynia (female genital pain or irritation)
•    Chronic candida (yeast infections)
•    COPD/asthma
•    Chronic fatigue
•    Cystic fibrosis
•    Hormonal imbalance
•    Child developmental disorders, including autism
•    Hyperoxaluria (excessive urinary excretion of oxalate)
•    Burning bowel movements
•    Gastrointestinal problems
•    Joint pain and inflammation (similar to fibromyalgia or arthritis)
•    Thyroid problems
•    Depression
•    Insomnia

Wait…Is It a Calcium Deficiency?

Before we move on to discussing a low oxalate diet and how it can benefit your health, let’s examine an overlooked factor in oxalate sensitivity.

According to research, diets that are low in calcium can raise urine oxalate levels. This is because proper calcium levels can inhibit intestinal oxalate absorption. A randomized controlled trial studied men with hypercalciuria (elevated calcium in the urine) and placed them on one of two diets to check which would be the most effective in the prevention of kidney stones (a common symptom of oxalate sensitivity).

One group followed a diet low in calcium and oxalate. The other followed a diet higher in calcium with restricted intake of oxalate, protein, and salt.

At the five-year mark, the latter group had a 51 percent lower rate of stone recurrence than those following a low-calcium diet.

Talk with your doctor about testing you for calcium deficiency and/or hypercalciuria if you’re experiencing symptoms of oxalate sensitivity before following the low oxalate diet.

What Causes Oxalate Sensitivity?

Like other food sensitivities, oxalate sensitivity is most commonly associated with poor gut health. If your digestive tract does not contain enough healthy bacteria to break down oxalates before they can reach other parts of your body, you are at increased risk for chronic pain, inflammatory, allergic, and autoimmune conditions.

High Oxalate Foods

According to Dr. Axe, oxalates are included in his list of 10 Antinutrients to Get Out of Your Diet … and Life.

Foods highest in oxalates include:

1.    Rhubarb
2.    Spinach
3.    Beets
4.    Almonds
5.    Tofu
6.    Pecans
7.    Peanuts
8.    Okra
9.    Chocolate
10.  Collard greens
11.  Sweet potatoes

Watch Your Intake of Vitamin C

According to a study, high-dose vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid has been linked to kidney stones in men.

Since large doses of this form of vitamin C may increase the amount of oxalate in your urine and put you at higher risk for developing kidney stones, do not exceed more than 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily.

No matter what type of food sensitivities you’re currently struggling with, the most important factor to healing any of them is healing your gut. When your gut is healthy, you’re healthy. It’s as simple as that!

Have you experienced kidney stones and tried a low oxalate diet? If so, how did it work for you?


Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.



  1. A. Mardinoglu, S. Shoaie, M. Bergentall, P. Ghaffari, C. Zhang, E. Larsson, F. Backhed, J. Nielsen. The gut microbiota modulates host amino acid and glutathione metabolism in mice. Molecular Systems Biology, 2015; 11 (10): 834
  2. Oxalate: Good or Bad?
  3. The Role of Oxalates in Autism and Chronic Disorders. Weston A. Price Foundation
  4. Harris, J. Coe, F. How to Eat a Low Oxcalate Diet.The University of Chicago
  5. Finkelstein, V. Goldfarb, D. Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ. 2006 May 9; 174(10): 1407–1409.
  6. Dietary Changes to Prevent Calcium Oxalate Stones. Kaiser Permananente. Health Education/South San Francisco
  7. Thomas, L. Elinder, C. et al. Ascorbic Acid Supplements and Kidney Stone Incidence Among Men: A Prospective Study. JAMA Intern Med.  2013;173(5):386-388.

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Healing the Thyroid Naturally… With Food!

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Sat, Jan 14, 2017 @ 08:00 AM


If you had to guess the #1 most-prescribed drug in the US what would it be?

Most people might guess a diabetes drug. After all, when you include those who are undiagnosed, an estimated 37 million people are living with diabetes. Or perhaps you would guess something related to heart disease – the leading cause of death in the United States.

Both of these answers are incorrect…

It might surprise you to know that the most-prescribed drug in the United States is Synthroid – a drug that is primarily used to treat an underactive thyroid. Every month 21.5 million prescriptions for this drug are filled.

Thyroid conditions have truly become an epidemic. In fact, there is a good chance that you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms related to an over- or underactive thyroid gland.

In my last article for US Wellness Meats, I discussed the thyroid gland itself and how it affects your health. I also covered the most common dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors that can damage your thyroid.

Today’s article discusses healing your thyroid naturally and the basics of a thyroid diet.

A thyroid diet is very similar to an ancestral diet filled with grain-free, nutrient-dense foods that help to heal your endocrine system. Below, I outline three common diets – the Basic Thyroid Diet, the Elimination Diet and the AIP Diet – all of which have been show to benefit the thyroid and immune system.

Basic Thyroid Diet

On the basic thyroid diet, you are encouraged to avoid:

•    Gluten
•    Dairy
•    Food Additives
•    Legumes
•    Starchy Vegetables

Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is similar to a thyroid diet, with a focus on eliminating foods that are especially triggering and/or inflammatory. On an elimination diet, you must avoid:

•    Wheat / gluten
•    Dairy / Lactose products
•    Corn
•    Eggs
•    Citrus fruits
•    Peanuts
•    Soy
•    Food dyes
•    MSG (Read labels carefully and know the alternate names for this exitotoxin)
•    Aspartame, sucralose and saccharin
•    Alcohol

All of these foods must be strictly avoided for at least six weeks. After this time has passed, reintroduce one ‘culprit’ food into your diet to test for a reaction.

You must really “load up” on the food. If you have no reaction, try a different eliminated food the next day. If you do have a reaction, stop eating that food. Wait a full 24 hours before trying another food.

Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP)

The autoimmune protocol diet focuses on removing substances that may stimulate your immune system and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods that calm your immune system and help heal damaged organs, tissues, and cells.

The AIP diet is geared towards healing the intestinal mucosa, normalizing the immune system, and reducing the severity of autoimmune flare-ups. 

On the AIP diet, you must avoid:

•    Gluten
•    Grains
•    Dairy
•    Nuts
•    Seeds
•    Eggs
•    Nightshade vegetables
•    Legumes (including soy and peanuts)
•    Alcohol
•    Coffee
•    Cocoa / Chocolate
•    Seed-Based Spices
•    Fruit-Based Spices
•    Dietary Gums (guar, xanthan, acacia, etc)
•    Additives / Preservatives
•    High Intensity Sweeteners (stevia, luo han guo)

For many people, regaining thyroid function and boosting energy levels can be as simple as choosing the right foods. By opting for an ancestral diet we naturally provide the body with the essential building blocks for healthy thyroid function. No matter which of the thyroid diets you choose, the following nutrient-dense foods should comprise the majority of your diet: 

•    Organic non-starchy vegetables and fruit
•    Grass fed beef and bison, pastured poultryorgan meats, wild fish
•    Bone broth
•    Free range eggs (unless on Elimination or AIP)
•    Nuts and seeds (unless on Elimination or AIP)
•    Olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil
•    Duck fat, grass-fed tallow and pastured lard

Consuming sufficient amounts of selenium and magnesium are also important for healthy thyroid function. It may be necessary to supplement with these to ensure adequate intake:

•  Selenium deficiency makes the body more vulnerable to illness caused by biochemical, nutritional or infectious stressors. Adequate selenium supports the synthesis of thyroid hormone and metabolism and protects the thyroid from damage due to excessive iodine exposure.

•  Magnesium is essential for converting inactive T4 thyroid hormone into its active T3 form. Without adequate magnesium, many of the enzymes responsible for making thyroid hormone do not function properly. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to cause goiter. 

Have you followed a diet to heal your thyroid? If so what did you do and what were your results?


Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.



  1. Zimmermann MB, Köhrle J. The impact of iron and selenium deficiencies on iodine and thyroid metabolism: biochemistry and relevance to public health. Thyroid. 2002;12(10):867-78.
  2. Hsu JM, Root AW, Duckett GE, Smith JC Jr, Yunice AA, Kepford G. The effect of magnesium depletion on thyroid function in rats. J Nutr. 1984 Aug;114(8):1510-7. PubMed PMID: 6747732.

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Heal Your Thyroid with Food

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Fri, Dec 30, 2016 @ 09:30 PM


It is estimated that 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease. Perhaps even more troubling, more than 60 percent of those people are completely unaware of their condition!

This means that millions of people (possibly even you) are living with the symptoms of a thyroid disorder and either have no idea what’s wrong… or they have learned to live with fatigue, aches pains, and digestive issues as if they are “normal”.

The most common types of thyroid illness are Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, goiter and thyroid nodules. And while prescription medications can certainly mask the symptoms, the thyroid diet is one of the best approaches for treatment and a permanent cure.

The advantage of a thyroid diet is that it can be helpful for any type of thyroid disorder. There’s no need for a specific protocol hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

No matter what type of thyroid condition you may have, the thyroid diet helps to normalize your entire system, helping to eliminate not only the symptoms of the disease but also the cause!

What is the Thyroid and How Does it Affect Your Health?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped, ductless gland that sits at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. This gland is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate growth and development through the rate of metabolism.

And while this small gland might not look like much, the hormones it secretes affect almost every system and cell in your body. If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, neither will you.

A healthy thyroid gland releases hormones called T3 (liothyronine) and T4 (levothyroxine) to help regulate your metabolism, balance energy levels, maintain a healthy weight and dictate how fast or slow your brain, heart, muscles and liver work.

Too little thyroid hormone in your blood (hypothyroidism) and everything slows down. You may notice flagging energy, unexpected weight gain and very dry skin.

If your thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), everything in your body speeds up. You may notice jitteriness, sudden weight loss, loss of strength and hair loss.

The thyroid doesn’t work on its own. The hormonal output of your thyroid is adjusted by a gland in your brain called the pituitary. In turn, another part of your brain, called the hypothalamus, sends information to the pituitary gland.

As you can see, there is a chain of command at work. And any one of these systems can be disrupted by environmental toxins, stress, poor diet and (especially) gut issues.

What Harms Our Thyroid?

Unfortunately, there are many things that can disrupt thyroid function.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that often occurs as a result of chronic inflammation in the gut, whether it is due to medications, poor diet, digestive disease or all three.

Chronic inflammation in the gut causes the intestinal lining to become more porous than it should be, allowing bits of undigested food, yeast, and other toxins to enter your bloodstream. This activates the immune system and can lead to autoimmune illness, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s and chronic fatigue. It is also clearly correlated with thyroid disease.


A study done on children living in a New Delhi neighborhood with an average water fluoride level of 4.37 ppm showed evidence of clinical hypothyroidism directly attributed to the fluoride. They also found borderline low free T3 levels among all children exposed to fluoridated water.2

In addition to avoiding fluoridated water, also be sure to avoid fluoridated toothpaste, processed foods, pesticides, pans made with Teflon (PFOA/PFTE) as well as foods naturally high in fluoride, including green and black teas.3


Most soy produced in the United States and Canada is genetically modified. It also contains a pesticide called glyphosate that disrupts the body’s ability to detoxify endocrine-disrupting chemicals and carcinogens. A study published in the journal, Toxicology, posits that those who eat GMOs may be more susceptible to the development of chronic disease, including thyroid disease.  Another concern is that soy may have an adverse effect on the absorption of synthetic thyroid hormone.5


Celiac disease is closely associated with the development of thyroid disease. And even those without celiac disease can have a negative reaction to gluten that triggers thyroid disease.

The molecular structure of gliadin (a protein found in gluten) closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. If you have a leaky gut, gliadin is more likely to enter your bloodstream, where it’s flagged for destruction. Due to the molecular similarities, the antibodies attacking gliadin will also attack your thyroid tissue.

If you have autoimmune thyroid disease and you eat foods that contain gluten, your immune system will continue to attack your thyroid.6


There is a protein called A1 casein found in cow’s milk. This protein can cause leaky gut syndrome, thereby increasing inflammation in the thyroid gland and impeding its function.  Unfortunately, this protein is also in goat’s and sheep’s milk, so these should be avoided, as well. The only exception for dairy may be camel milk, otherwise, opt for healthy dairy-free milks like unprocessed coconut milk.


These are chemicals believed to cause a goiter by acting directly on the thyroid gland as well as altering the thyroid’s regulatory mechanisms, peripheral metabolism and release of thyroid hormones.

There are many drugs that are well known goitrogens. If you are taking any prescription medication, do a search to find out if the medication has known effects on the thyroid. If so, seek other alternatives or ways to stop taking medications entirely.

Certain healthy foods (including cruciferous veggies, sweet potatoes and strawberries, to name a few) also contain goitrogens. However, these may not be problematic unless a deficiency in iodine or selenium is present.7  What’s more, cooking foods that contain goitrogens may help to decrease their goitrogenic effect.

Environmental Toxins

The pesticides widely used on conventional produce are well known goitrogens. Likewise, the chemical perchlorate – a component of rocket fuel, which has contaminated groundwater across the United States – interferes with the thyroid’s ability to uptake iodine. This prevents the thyroid from making adequate amounts of hormones that regulate metabolism.


Oxalates are chemical compounds found in many green vegetables and other foods that are considered healthy. Your body also produces them as a waste product.

If your digestive tract does not contain enough healthy bacteria to break down oxalates before they can reach other parts of your body, you may be at increased risk of inflammatory, allergic and autoimmune conditions.


Viral infections are frequently cited as a factor in subacute thyroiditis and autoimmune thyroid diseases.

These include the “Big Three”:

1.  Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) – The cause of mononucleosis, this virus is also commonly linked with the development of Hashimoto’s disease. A 2015 Polish study found the Epstein-Barr virus in the thyroid cells of 80 percent of people with Hashimoto’s and 63 percent of people with Graves’. Control subjects did not have EBV present in their thyroid cells.8

2.  Yersinia Enterocolitica – This bacterium is found in contaminated food and water. If your gut is healthy, your system will fight off the bacterium and you will only experience the symptoms of mild food poisoning or a “stomach bug”. However, in some cases, Yersinia takes hold in the gut. This can persist without GI symptoms, while triggering Hashimoto’s disease.

3.  Helicobacter Pylori – This opportunistic bacterium is a known contributor to stomach ulcers. It has also been linked with the development of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Low Stomach Acid

Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) increases intestinal permeability, inflammation, and infection. Studies show a strong link between low stomach acid and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Mold Sensitivity

Studies show that mold exposure triggers inflammation, which can lead to the development of autoimmune disease. Exposure to Aspergillus is directly associated with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.9 

Healing the Thyroid Naturally…

If you have noticed any of the symptoms listed in the introduction to this article, there is a chance they are caused by an over- or under-active thyroid gland. Of course the first step is to get a proper diagnosis… and to avoid the foods, chemicals and risk factors listed above.

And please stay tuned for my next article in the US Wellness Meats newsletter… where I will discuss healing the thyroid naturally with a sound nutrition plan that provides ample nutrients and gut-healing support.


Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.



  1. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology, February 2012, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 71–78
  2. E. A. Idris and R. Wiharddza, “Adverse effects of fluoride towards thyroid hormone metabolism,” Padjadjaran Journal of Dentistry, vol. 20, pp. 34–42, 2008.
  3. Fluoride Action Network: Fluoride Content of Tea.
  4. Samsel, Anthony, Seneff, Stephanie. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdisciplinary Toxicology. 2013 Dec; 6(4): 159-184.
  5. Messina M, Redmond G. Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature. Thyroid. 2006;16(3):249-58.
  6. KUČERA, P  NOVÁKOVÁ, et al. Gliadin, endomysial and thyroid antibodies in patients with latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA). Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2003 Jul; 133(1): 139–143.
  7. What About The Goitrogens in Cruciferous Veggies? The Paleo Mom.
  8. Janegova A, Janega P, Rychly B, Kuracinova K, Babal P. The role of Epstein-Barr virus infection in the development of autoimmune thyroid diseases. Endokrynol Pol. 2015;66(2):132-6.
  9. Winzelberg GG, Gore J, Yu D, Vagenakis AG, Braverman LE. Aspergillus flavus as a cause of thyroiditis in an immunosuppressed host. Johns Hopkins Med J. 1979;144(3):90-3.

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What Is the Microbiome?

Posted by US Wellness Meats on Sat, Dec 17, 2016 @ 08:00 AM


The human microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that inhabits your body. Your stomach and intestines alone are home to approximately three pounds of bacteria! Up to 100 trillion cells comprise your gut microbiome, which is home to a rich variety of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. In addition, there is an ecosystem of skin, oral, and vaginal microbiota.

Our first exposure to these beneficial organisms is during our passage through the birth canal, followed by those present in the mother’s milk. Unfortunately, many children today are not born the way Mother Nature intended, nor are they breastfed… thus missing out on a critical foundation for their developing microbiome and immune system.

There are three main types of microbiota:

•  Symbiotic: these offer a mutually-beneficial relationship between organism and host.
•  Pathogenic: opportunistic disease-causing microbes, though in a diverse and healthy microbiome they do not cause disease and in some ways can be beneficial.
•  Commensal: these guys are just along for the ride.

What Our Microbiome Influences


It is estimated that roughly 70 percent of your body’s immune system cells live in your intestines. Your gut is your first line of defense against illness. And it is your microbiome that helps program your immune cells to “behave” in a certain way before circulating throughout your body.

For example, your T-cells can either suppress inflammation or promote it. And this can depend on whether your gut microbiome is diverse and thriving or imbalanced. This process begins at birth and continues to work throughout your life, changing and adapting to your environment, food intake, stress levels, and disease exposure.

When your gut flora is imbalanced, your immune system may become weakened. It can also become over-stimulated and prone to attacking your body’s own healthy tissues. This is called autoimmunity.

Skin Health

Did you know the health of your skin is directly tied to your gut? Studies have shown that the condition ‘leaky gut syndrome’ can contribute to acne, psoriasis, hives and eczema. Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the gut is more permeable than it should be, allowing bits of undigested food, bacteria, fungus and pathogens into your bloodstream.

Research has shown that stress and gut inflammation can impair the function of your epidermal barrier (residing in the most superficial layer of your skin, the stratum corneum). When you have a decreased level of antimicrobial peptides on your skin, you’re at greater risk for skin infection and inflammation.1

In order to properly digest food and absorb its nutrients, you must have a flourishing microbiome. Furthermore, beneficial bacteria help acidify the colon and regulate bowel movements. They also help reduce gas and prevent bad breath. In addition, your microbiota has a strong effect on whether or not you are able to digest dairy products.

Nutrient Absorption

Nutrient deficiencies often occur as a result of an unhealthy microbiome. Do carbohydrate-rich foods (even fruits and vegetables) seem to bother your stomach? You may have problems digesting them due to an unbalanced gut flora.

Some common causes of chronic stomach trouble are SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), parasitic infection and celiac disease.

Brain Health/Alzheimer’s Disease

Your gut and your brain are closely linked. When your microbiome is unhealthy, your brain is much more likely to be unhealthy, as well. This may result in mental confusion, emotional instability, central nervous system disorders and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Hunger and Weight

The ecosystem of microbes in your gut is not merely a passive population of hitchhikers, happy to eat whatever you decide to feed them. In fact, your microbiome may be influencing your eating habits by increasing your feelings of hunger and causing you to crave carbohydrates and sweets!

This is a battle for survival. Your microbes influence your dietary choices to favor the foods THEY thrive on (or those that suppress their competitors). So, the types of foods you crave are in part based on your microbiome and in part based on your food intake.

The good news is that research has shown that positive changes can be made in the microbiome within just 24 hours of positive dietary changes.


According to a meta-analysis of 20 studies, released in the journal Biologica birth by C-section is clearly correlated with the development of type-1 diabetes. Even after adjusting for variables such as gestational age, birth weight, maternal age, birth order, breast-feeding and the existence of maternal diabetes, there was still a 20 percent increase in the risk of type 1 diabetes in infants born via C-section.3

Since exposure to friendly bacteria is so integral to the development of an infant’s immune system, the research suggests that the types of bacteria found on a newborn’s skin may influence the development of their immune system and future health.

Furthermore, babies born via C-section are exposed to microbes that resemble those found on the skin (e.g., Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium), while infants born vaginally are exposed to microbes that resemble those found in the birth canal (e.g., Lactobacillus, Prevotella, and Sneathia).4

Staphylococcus is notorious for causing infections while Lactobacillus is a friendly bacteria that has been associated with good gut and immune health. Could it be that, in addition to not receiving enough friendly bacteria from vaginal delivery, a child is at even greater risk of infection when skin bacteria are the first and not the second type of bacteria the child exposed to?

What Affects Our Microbiome

Could it be that our modern life in sterile-like environments could be a factor in the rise of certain illnesses, especially those that are immune-related, such as asthma and diabetes?

In a scientific paper entitled, “The Built Environment Is a Microbial Wasteland”, researchers discuss how the transition from living outdoors to living indoors has negatively impacted the structure and diversity of our inner ecosystem.5

Other factors that influence our microbiome include:


Mother’s milk contains molecules and cells that help prevent certain microorganisms from penetrating the gut of the newborn and causing illness. These molecules work by binding to hollow spaces in the digestive tract of the infant, thus preventing microbes from traveling through the mucosa layer of the cells. In addition, breast milk provides phagocytes that attack microbes directly. And yet another set of chemicals stimulate the infant’s own immune response.

According to a study published in the journal, Pediatric Research, “The neonatal adaptive immune system, relatively naïve to foreign antigens, requires synergy with the innate immune system to protect the intestine.”

The components in mother’s milk protect her nursing infant and encourage her own infant’s immune system to flourish, which may help prevent enteric infection and inflammatory bowel diseases later in life.6

C-Section Birth

Infants born via Cesarean section do not travel down the birth canal, which robs them of exposure to beneficial microbes. Data recorded from 23 different studies revealed that children delivered by C-section experienced a 20 percent increased rate of asthma.7

A review of studies, published in the journal, Trends in Molecular Medicine, showed evidence that “disrupting the mother-to-newborn transmission of bacteria by C-section delivery” increased the risk of celiac disease, asthma, type 1 diabetes and childhood obesity.8


If you’ve ever heard the saying “stress kills”, it’s true.

And it is not only related to our own demise. Stress can also kill your healthy microorganisms!

A study conducted on squirrels showed that those living in a low-stress environment harbored healthier communities of microorganisms. However, when the same squirrels were captured and studied weeks later, if their stress levels increased, it also increased the amount of potentially harmful bacteria in their bodies.9

Chronic Illness

When it comes to chronic illness, there is also a “chicken or the egg” factor.

For example, an unhealthy gut can contribute to a malfunctioning immune system…. which can result in autoimmune disease…. which can cause inflammation that continues to kill whatever good bacteria remains. Moreover, the stress of chronic illness may also trigger the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. This can worsen the disease and start the cycle all over again.


Not only are antibiotics dramatically over-prescribed, they are also found in conventionally-raised livestock. (This is one reason why eating organic and pasture-raised meat and dairy products is important for your health.)

One study showed that one short course of the antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, reduced the diversity of the intestinal microbiota and had significant effects on approximately one-third of the bacterial species.

Not only do antibiotics kill our healthy bacteria, the changes that are made to our microbiome may also promote the transmission of deadly pathogenic organisms.10

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the lining of the intestines is more porous than it should be, allowing bits of undigested food, bacteria, and fungus to leak into the bloodstream causing an inflammatory response. When this barrier system doesn’t work as it should, it can significantly reduce the number of good bacteria in your gut while allowing disease-causing pathogens to replicate out of control.


Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This protein is highly inflammatory, even for those who don’t have celiac disease. The higher the inflammation in your gut, the unhealthier your microbiome will be, and vice versa.


GMOs are a much more frightening addition to our food supply than is currently being revealed.

Several studies have shown that GMOs transfer the genes of the pesticides contained within them, damaging your microbiome while implanting its own information into your intestinal bacteria.

As a result of eating genetically-modified foods, your gut can literally be turned into a living pesticide factory!

A study showed that mice fed a diet of GM corn presented with alteration of T-cells and B-cells “at the gut and peripheral sites”. Some T-cells send chemical instructions to the rest of the immune system, while some kill virus-infected cells directly. B-cells make antibodies against foreign invaders.

If these immune cells do not work properly, your immune system either won’t be able to defend itself or, it will begin attacking your own healthy tissues. Either way, GM foods can be very destructive.11

Chlorinated Water

It is believed that there is enough residual chlorine in tap water to kill bacteria in your gut. In part, this could lead to an overgrowth of Candida yeast, contribute to autoimmune conditions as well as behavioral and cognitive problems.

To protect your gut and skin from the potentially damaging effects of chlorinated water, use a filter for both the water you drink and bathe in.

Toxic Personal Care Items

Many personal care items such as soap, shampoo, body wash, and cosmetics contain toxins that can interfere with the healthy function of your gut immune system.

For example, triclosan, a man-made antibacterial commonly found in hand sanitizer, dish soap, and even toothpaste, has been associated with rapid shifts in microbiome structure and diversity.12

A laboratory study revealed that mice fed BPA, a common chemical in plastics, showed a similar gut microbial community induced by a high-sugar diet. This resulted in gut dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance that allows disease-causing bacteria to flourish.13


Glyphosate, a common pesticide, has been shown to inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria within the gut. Sadly, glyphosate has been found in the breast milk of women across the United States! So, if you have little ones, especially if you’re breastfeeding, be sure to go organic.

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, an artificial sweetener that should have been taken off the market decades ago, has been linked to the development of central nervous system disorders, mental illness symptoms, and the alteration of gut microbiota.14

Another study revealed that the consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to gut dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities.15

Food Additives

Food additives, especially emulsifiers, which are found in most highly-processed foods, may be linked to obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disorders. Research on laboratory mice showed that dietary emulsifiers had a direct impact on gut microbiota, promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome.16

How to Create a Healthy Microbiome

Despite the environmental challenges we face on a daily basis, we can still create and maintain a healthy microbiome. The first thing to do to increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut is to remove any and all toxic substances (food, contaminated water, cosmetics) that may be degrading it. Invest in and eat primarily organic foods, pasture-raised meats and wild fish.

Furthermore, increase your intake of:

•    Bone Broth
•    Healthy Fats- especially saturated fats (like Pastured Tallow, Lard and Coconut Oil) which help to heal and seal the gut
•    Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut, Kimchi and Kombucha
•    Lacto-Fermented Kefir and Yogurt

Once you get the good bugs in there, you have to feed them so your body can create more! Prebiotics are food for your beneficial bacteria, and they can be found in foods such as:

•    Dandelion Greens
•    Jerusalem Artichokes
•    Asparagus     
•    Leeks
•    Onions    
•    Garlic
•    Raw Chicory Root    
•    Berries
•    Under-Ripe Bananas + Green Banana Flour  

It is also very important to reduce stress and get adequate rest to keep your microbiome healthy and functioning at its very best.

Have you experienced trouble with your microbiome? If so, what steps have you taken to get it in balance? 


Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more. f



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