Bare 5

Reconnecting to health and wellness


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Welcome To Bare 5!


We all have within us the potential to feel great, be strong and love life. The simple approach that can get us there: reconnect to being human. By honoring our natural instincts and connection to the world around us we can optimize our lives. Make the most of every day by taking your life back and reconnect to your true human nature.

Most of us have been getting more disconnected every year as life, technology and constant stress pulls us further away from our roots. More now than ever before, we need to reconnect. Reconnect to human nature: our true selves, the food, movement, rest, nature, friends, family, happiness and joy that makes life amazing. We are marvelous creatures with incredible potential. Bare 5 exists simply as a resource for connection, an outlet for people to plug back in to health. This blog is dedicated to sharing info, thoughts, resources and links that will help people take their future into their own hands and reconnect to being human, gaining health and wellness and to loving life.

If you’re new to natural living, there’s no better time to start than now and no better way than to kick off your shoes and let your Bare 5 toes reconnect with the ground and get some sunshine on your skin. We can all benefit from the simple acts of reconnecting with being human, from the way we walk, to what we eat, to how we move, sleep and even to how we connect with the earth itself and one another. The more we follow our naturally designed path, the better our lives will be.

Every week I try to add new links, info, resources and thoughts so take a look around, explore, browse and let me know what you think!

If you’re here for the Vibram Five Fingers toe shoes, check out the links on the right…
Or check out the Bare5 Barefoot Headquarters.

If you’re here to explore your health, browse around or check out the Resources or FDN pages.

If you just want the basics, take a look at the Bare 5 Elements and look for the Bare 5 Bottom Line, my synopsis of each post.

Thanks for reading, have a great reconnected day!


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Check Your Shoes at the Door

Of the best things you can do for your health is to be barefoot and there’s no easier way than to do it when at home. 

Whether concerned about safety, style or simply dirty feet, most people want some sort of shoe on when out of the house which is completely understandable. When you come home, however, shoes have limited value so one of the best things you can do for your health is to leave your shoes at the door. Many people and cultures have been doing this for quite some time so this isn’t a new concept. Some of you might already be doing this but many others might have grown accustomed to wearing shoes when at home, which presents two problems: 

1. If you’re wearing shoes that are elevated, tight, restrictive, overly cushioned or have other mechanically altering properties, which is almost all shoes (even tennis shoes and flip flops), wearing them at home just adds to the hours that your feet, knees, hips and back are compromised. 

2. Your feet, already starving for stimulus, lose out on hours of freedom and connection which allows them to breathe and maintain their flexibility and strength. Your brain also loses out on the opportunity to keep nerves and bloodflow strong to your toes and feet. 

So it’s a double whammy. More time compromised and less opportunity to get better. 

The simple solution: leave your shoes at the door. 

Here’s our garage door entrance:

Our health starts from the ground up. The feet are a hotbed of nerves and muscles that give us constant feedback about the world and our body. Nearly everything about the mechanics of your body work better when your feet are flat on the ground and fully connected. Plus, we are much more likely to spend a little time barefoot outdoors (in the backyard or walking to the mailbox) if our shoes are already off. 

I like for people to be barefoot as much as possible and get their feet outdoors whenever they can but I understand many people just aren’t going to do that, particularly when out and about in the real world. But give your feet a break and let them free when you’re home. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day! 

P.S. Try this Little Experiment at home sometime…


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Is Pizza Healthy?

As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways, inconceivable. 

Out of curiosity… why do you ask?

Like most people, I have long considered pizza to be an indulgence at best and a health sin at worst. A greasy pile of dough, cheese and cured meats is hardly good for anyone, except after a night of drinking maybe, even though I think Taco Bell still is the best for a 2am post bar hopping meal. Drunkeness aside, considering all the calories, carbs, fat, sodium and chemicals in pizza there is really no debate (other than an occasional contribution to psychological, mental or social health), pizza is not good for you.

Or is it?

Most people’s first instincts are a pretty confident no yet curious why I’d be asking this question, since these type of intros are often followed with a post titled Rethinking Pizza or something similar. It wasn’t too long ago that I heard the FDA had listed pizza as a vegetable because of the tomato sauce, so maybe pizza is healthy because everyone knows vegetables are good for you (even though tomatoes are technically a fruit). Nevertheless, I was thinking about the question of pizza value the other day and a little debate started in my head, which is how many of my articles originate: the voices in my head trying to figure stuff out.

Rethinking Pizza

When we look at the food itself, the consensus certainly appears to be that pizza is not good for you and is not healthy, at least as it is generally practiced. Hundreds, if not thousands, of calories comprised flour (Ahhh- gluten!!!), cheese, sodium, nitrate filled fatty cured meats, and a few token olives or mushrooms. As a food entity, typical pizza is not healthy for anyone and there is literally no debate. Most people would also concede that choosing a thin crust, light cheese or vegetarian pizza is less bad for you than the thick, heavy cheesed, meat lovers pizza with a bacon wrapped, cheese filled crust.

But even a thin crusted, light cheese vegetarian pizza is still not considered “healthy” in general. It’s more a “healthiest way to do pizza” which is still not the best health choice you can make, meaning it’s not really healthy.

But what if it’s a gluten free crust? And grass fed, raw cheese? With fresh, local ingredients, prepared by a sweet italian grandmother from her kitchen?

Would you be healthier because you had this pizza?

Hmmm, maybe.

What if it’s piled high in kale, arugula and different types of other vegetables and herbs and spices? And had a crust made from cauliflower?

Now we might be getting somewhere. Is this pizza a health promoting food?

What if it’s the only way someone is going to eat vegetables? Is eating a vegetarian pizza worse than eating no vegetables at all? Or could you say it’s good for you? Maybe, healthy?

If someone loves pepperoni pizza and doesn’t eat vegetables, would they benefit from a pepperoni and veggie pizza? 

What if you’ve under eaten for a week? Could your body benefit from a nice pizza?

What if it’s post workout?

Considering all of the above possibilities, could my body benefit from this pizza?

Thin crust, marinara sauce, light mozzarella and parmesan cheese, some chicken, a few pepperoni slices, green peppers, banana peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, garlic, oregano, cilantro.

Or is it still not healthy?

What’s the point to all these rambling, endless scenario questions?

I don’t have an answer to the question of “is pizza healthy?” No one does. 

Pizza isn’t healthy or unhealthy as a entity. It is about context, just like almost every other food. I think it can enrich your body in the right context and can hinder it in the wrong context. I have had plenty of pizzas that did more harm than good and I think most people have as well. 

However, I think that my pizza the other day helped my health. One of my favorite things about pizza is that it’s a vessel for toppings and I can load up on tons of vegetables and some proteins that I don’t usually get in a very enjoyable and delicious way.

To me that’s healthy, not the healthiest way to do an unhealthy food.

Once again, the point of rethinking pizza isn’t to encourage a free for all at your local Dominoes but to put things in context. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. Could we have the same discussion about sandwiches? Or pasta dishes?


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Brain Health 4

*This was originally scheduled for last November but got hung up in the holidays, only to reemerge as we look toward summer and all it’s coming glory…*

In Brain Health 1 we looked at keeping the brain clean, Part 2 looked at making connections and Part 3 covered how to best feed your brain. Brain Health 4 takes a step back to the most primal and deepest health promoting strategy we have: our senses…

Sight. Touch. Smell. Taste. Hearing.

These are the senses that create the human experience. These are the senses that we need to stimulate for optimal brain health. These are the senses that are so limited in today’s artificial, sterile and repetitive world of over stimulation. These are the final pieces to the puzzle of brain health. The key with brain stimulation is to get it just right.

Think of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Understimulation = no growth.

Overstimulation = blow a fuse.

Optimal Stimulation = just right.

How do we get it just right? Get outside and stimulate your senses. We already have a plethora of technological and super stimuli surrounding us every day and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. IF we mix in a good dose of the natural stuff.

Your Brain on Nature

A sensory experience.

This could fall into making connections but I think it’s even more primal and foundational.

Yes, our brains are just adapting to what we ask but that’s the problem. We are forcing an adaptation that doesn’t allow full capabilities and then we expect to have full capabilities.

Sight – get outside and see what your eyes are missing. Sunlight, darkness, moonlight. Natural texture. Trees, grass, creatures. Other people. There is so much beyond our screens it can be eye opening, literally. Brain health and eye health are directly linked and without the depth of 3-D scenery the brain becomes very two dimensional.

The beauty of natural scenery is its texture, variety and dynamic. Hardly a straight line to be seen. Colors, contrast, variety, depth!, movement, flow.

Sound – listen to nature. Give your ears and brain a break from clicks, beeps and listening to shallow or oversounds. Listen to the purity of wind, creatures, trees, grass, birds, feet walking on the ground, running water, people’s voices, breathing and heartbeats. Sounds are so primal that without them the brain gets limited growth.

The beauty of natural sound is its simplicity. Pure and direct.

Touch – feel nature. Stop avoiding or putting a barrier between yourself and the world. Feel sunshine, hot, cold, wind, rain, the ground under your feet, the earth on your hands, other skin against your skin, food in your hands and in your mouth. Touch is one of our first senses and without it we cannot thrive.

The beauty of natural feel is its intensity. If you’ve been disconnected from touch you’ll be amazed at the deep experience that natural touch can be.

Smell – smell nature. Let yourself smell things. Flowers, rain, grass, dirt, animals, other people without perfumes, real food, animals. So many of us are afraid of smells and cover them up or sterilize them away. There are smells everywhere that are tremendously beneficial to our brains.

The beauty of natural smells are their variety. So many versions of different smells and aromas.

Taste – taste things. This gets lost often but is just as important as the other things. Taste things. Food, people, dirt, blood. There’s so much more variety of taste out there than we let ourselves experience. We eat from such a limited palate of foods (wheat, corn, soy, potatoes, chicken breasts, etc.) that are so commonly seasoned and prepared that we miss out on a tremendous amount of tastes and textures. Think of all the cuisines across the world. Explore taste for a tremendous brain boost.

The beauty of natural taste is its earthiness. It connects us to the planet and primal existence.

That’s it. Let the brain feed on sensory experience. The old fashioned kind. You will be amazed at what is out there if you let yourself experience it. If you want to keep your brain health strong, let it reconnect to the natural world and all the information it shares with us each and every day.

Here’s two quick videos I recorded a while back that give you just a sense of what I’m talking about. Even getting just the basic sights and sounds without all the depth is pretty cool. Experiencing this kind of stuff is what really counts.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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Why I Don’t Share Much “Scientific Research”

Science is one of the foundational elements of current human existence. So much of what we live in today’s world is a direct result of science and it’s amazing success. Unfortunately it’s become one of the most distracting and confusing parts of our world, particularly when it comes to health. We are bombarded by reports of new research on a daily basis and I don’t know if a news program goes by without a mention or segment on a new study that shows this or that. 

Too bad most everything you hear in this manner is interesting at best and absolutely wrong and harmful at worst. 

I’ve written quite a bit on this before (Science & What Elementary Science Can Reteach Us) but I think this video I came across last night very nicely sums up how we should think about all this science we come across these days. It’s from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver so it’s done for satire and laughs but is right on target with its message. It’s almost 20 minutes but worth the watch, particularly if you ever find yourself believing the “amazing new findings” from a new study…

Take everything you hear from “science” and remember this video before you believe it or change anything you do. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

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Should = Stress

I’ve long talked to people about the problem of should. It’s one of the most troublesome words I know, particularly when it comes to health.

I should be able to do this and I should be able to to that. This shouldn’t be this way and things shouldn’t be like that.

My contention is that when we say should we are looking at things in the wrong way.

We say should to state that something isn’t the way we want it or think it to be and it usually bothers us.

The problem is, when we say should, we get stressed.

We say:

  • I should be able to lose weight.
  • This exercise shouldn’t be that hard.
  • My kids should listen better.
  • Traffic shouldn’t be so bad.

Someone else says:

  • You eat more than you exercise and you don’t sleep enough, you’re stressed and you make bad food choices so it makes sense you can’t lose weight.
  • You’re trying a hard exercise that you’ve never done it before and you lack the strength to do it properly so it makes sense that it’s hard.
  • Your children are young and have been taught not to listen to their parents so it makes sense that they won’t listen.
  • Thousands of people are driving in the same direction at one time so that makes sense that there is traffic.

These things aren’t stressful in and of themselves, but are a cause of stress due to our outlook on them. Think of all the times we use the word should without thinking about what we are actually saying. And how often does thinking that way cause us stress?

When something SHOULD be a certain way and isn’t it means we are putting our rules and expectations on something that follows different rules. This inherently means we aren’t considering all the information. Whenever we know all the rules and information about something there is no longer should. We understand why things are the way they are and there’s very little stress involved. There is and there is not and nothing falls into should or shouldn’t.

Funny enough as I just looked back, exactly 3 years ago I posted It Doesn’t Make Sense! Or Does It… which explains much of the same problem. This disconnect leads to saying should, which leads to stress.

This topic is likely lost on most of you, as I find myself thinking people should read this and follow what I’m trying to get at. The reality is that many people won’t because as I write this I realize how difficult it is to convey what I’m trying to say. So if I find myself concerned over it then I’m making the exact same mistake of putting my expectations and rules onto people that are coming from a different place.

The end result… When you get stressed about things that should be this way or that, take a step back and think of how the big picture looks. Would a bipartisan observer see things the same way? Should equals stress but simply means you don’t have all the information or aren’t considering the whole picture. So next time you find yourself saying should or shouldn’t think about what you’re missing in the equation and recalculate. It often results in everything making much more sense.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. Some of you might remember a similar post a couple years back,



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The Journey Up The Mountain

Pearls From Pirsig
 Everyone loves the finish of a journey. Crossing the finish line or reaching the peak of the mountain. There’s nothing quite like that last step that completes a long and often challenging pursuit. Achieving a goal and wrapping up a journey is extremely rewarding and should be savored.

Here’s the thing:

Getting to the top of the mountain is great but all of the work, all of the effort all and of the reward comes from the climb itself. The peak is a moment in time that’s nice but literally is only a few steps of the entire journey and should be thought of as just that. Achieving a goal is only possible if everything else before it happens. Mountains worth climbing are the ones where the value lies in the process, not just in the outcome. No matter the goal, put your effort and attention into the journey because that’s where the action and substance is.

The peak can be the goal but life happens during the journey.

We often forget about the part of the journey in the beginning- what it was like to stand there at the bottom, thinking about what it’s going to be like climbing that mountain. The preparation. Wondering what it’s going to take. Wondering if we have it in ourselves to achieve it. There’s tremendous value in that part of the journey. 

Then there is the climb itself. All of the ups and downs, great days followed by missteps, big strides sandwiched between slips. Some bruises and scrapes, juxtaposed between frustration and elation, with a little (or a lot) of monatany mixed in. 

Everyone’s journey up the mountain is on their own accord. Some have an easier time than others. Some have climbed certain mountains before while others are new in the game. Regardless of who you are or where you’re at do it at your own pace and within your abilities. Just like you don’t climb a sheer cliff face as a novice hiker, don’t follow a bodybuilder’s precontest regiment and expect to not fall crashing down. Be smart about your path and listen to your body. When restless, speed up. If you’re tired, slow down. 

Keep your sights on the top but your eyes on each step you take because those are the day to day things that really propel you to the top. 

To accomplish anything worthwhile you have to go through a lot. Give yourself credit for every step, every effort and don’t forget the journey was the entire process, every step you took, from staring up at the mountain to you at the top reveling in a goal achieved. 
Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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Bacon and Hot Dogs Getting Grilled…Again

(Many of you heard about this when it hit the news last October and I wrote this up to give my thoughts but then the fire died down considerably around it so I never published it. I revisited it the other day to check the status on the full report only to find it is still not out. I’ll keep you updated when it does get released if there’s anything worthwhile in it but thought it would be nice to share my thoughts nonetheless.)


Almost like clockwork, often conveniently close to Halloween, it’s time to scare people away from bacon, hot dogs and red meat. The World Health Organization recently released a report listing processed meats (bacon, salami, hot dogs) as cancer causing agents and red meat as a probable cancer causing agent. Bacon and hot dogs are Group 1 carcinogens, in the same category as cigarettes, tobacco and asbestos, meaning there is sufficient evidence of being cancerous. Red meat is listed as a Class 2A, possible carcinogen, meaning there’s evidence but it’s not strong enough to conclude. I love bacon like the next guy but if the WHO is listing it as a definite cancer causer… turn off the grill and get those bacon wrapped hot dogs in a biohazard bag! We’d be foolish to keep eating it, right???

But before we ban bacon, which has just seen a renaissance the last few years, might we be best served to take a step back and look at this situation on the whole? I think so.

Does Bacon Cause Cancer?

Bacon, just like beer and cigarettes, doesn’t always cause cancer, as evidenced by countless people who’ve indulged regularly without harm. Check out these centenarians who serve as a prime example that there’s no absolute in nutrition.

That’s great, you say, these are the lucky ones. But could it cause cancer in the rest of us not gifted with great genetics?

We don’t really know. This report says yes but instead of taking that at face value it benefits us all to dig a little deeper…

The report from WHO covered the October meeting of the IARC (International Agency for Research in Cancer), which will release a full report of the data soon but hasn’t been published officially yet, although it still appears to be a ways off. The basics from the IARC press release…

IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat

This two page summarizes that based off of the evidence available the IARC concluded that processed meats cause cancer and they think red meat might but they can’t be sure.

A more detailed report was published in the Lancet, which is free to view but requires you to register:

Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat

After reading that review, here are some notes:

1. The claim of carcinogen is mostly for colorectal cancer, although some studies reported red meat links to pancreas/prostate cancer while processed meat was linked to stomach cancer.

2. Red meat consumption and colorectal cancer association was found in 7 of 14 studies cohort studies and in 7 of 15 case control studies. That’s 14 of 29 that found a link and 15 that didn’t.

3. Processed meat and colorectal cancer association was found in 12 of 18 cohort studies and 6 of 9 case control studies. That’s exactly 2/3 of the cases.

4. The big finding via meta analysis was that every extra 100g of red meat per day increased the colorectal cancer risk by 17% and every 50g of extra processed meat increased the risk by 18%.

As always, keep in mind the severe limitations of nutrition research, led by the foundational flaw that most nutrition research is limited by nature because of how the data is primarily collected (i.e. tell me how much processed meat you eat on average a week this year, last year, etc.) and then matched to health outcomes (colorectal cancer occurrence).

Nutrition doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Other things impact nutrition. How do we know that the people who choose processed and/or red meat don’t eat an extra 20 grams of sugar a day, have a history with antibiotics, sleep a half hour less or have more stressful jobs? No matter how much researchers try to control for other variables it’s literally impossible to simplify nutrition at this point in time.

Web MD covered it very nicely:

Meat & Cancer: What’s the risk?

A great little article I suggest reading entirely but here is one of the big takeaways:

Each daily 50-gram portion of processed meats — about the size of an average hot dog — increases the risk of colorectal cancers by 18%, the report says. Each daily, 100-gram portion of red meat — about one-quarter of a pound — raises colorectal cancer risk by 17%.

In absolute terms, the increased risk is pretty small. For example, the risk that a man will get colorectal cancer during the course of his lifetime is about 4.8%, on average — or said differently, about 1 in 21 men will develop it in his lifetime. A 17% increase in that risk bumps it up to 5.6%, or changes that risk to about 1 in 18 men.

By comparison, a 2005 study determined that smoking a single daily cigarette could increase a person’s risk of lung cancer by about 200% to 400%.

So, if this is indeed correct and true, which we’re still not quite sure, then a man adding a hot dog a day to his diet raises his risk of developing colon cancer some time in his life from 4.8 to 5.6%. Why are we comparing that to cigarettes and asbestos, again?

Again, possibly most importantly, we still don’t have a clear mechanism. Meaning, we don’t know how it happens or why it happens. I wonder, with a difference this small and no mechanism, can we be sure it’s even really happening? Maybe it is but it reminds me a lot of the saturated fat, cholesterol and salt journey we’ve already been down.

Question: Why do we keep doing this to people? We don’t really know it for a fact, we just suspect. And we really want to find the ONE thing that’s bad so we can say, “Ah-ha! This is it! Processed meat! That is why we are getting sicker and fatter! Just cut that out and things will be fine. What? Oh no, it’s not the bun, french fries and 32 ounce soda, it’s the meat!”

There are a hundred reasons why people get sick and it’s not probably not processed meat, certainly not all by itself. We like to search for simple answers to our complex questions because it’s easier to say eliminate bacon instead of minding all the other things that contribute to health because tackling those is too big of an issue.

Here’s an interesting Q & A on the report from the WHO.

Once again, worth reading, but here’s 2 important takeaways:

  1. They are listing processed meats as “evidence supports causal link to cancer” which falls into the same category as tobacco and asbestos but that doesn’t mean it’s as dangerous.
  2. There is still very much that is unknown, particularly when you start looking for specifics and nuances into this issue. There is more unknown that known at the moment.

To me it’s a dangerous practice to put the blame on red meat and processed meat. We’ve already been down this road with fat, salt and cholesterol. Hot dogs might not be the “healthiest” thing on the planet but neither is the bun they come in or the chili and cheese often smothered on them or the soda on the side or the concept that they might be simply part of a calorie overload (which might be the biggest issue of all).

Let’s keep looking at the whole picture and focusing our efforts on the basic health improvement pursuits, not wasting time trying to figure out how to blame something specific for a general problem.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. Could it be possible that the people eating all the processed and red meat have the worst diets and lifestyle? If so, what if eating read meat actually prevents them from having even worse health outcomes…?