Wellness Redefined

Expo WestSeventh Generation recently hosted three bloggers as our special guests at Natural Products Expo West, the largest trade show in our industry. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Lynn Miller of Organic Mania, Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse and Caryn Bailey of Rockin' Mama and we think you will too as you read their reflections on our blog. As a child, I remember the monthly trips to the ENT for my chronic allergies. Scattered in between were the trips for the numerous upper respiratory infections I acquired on a regular basis. Antibiotics, inhalers, and pills were a regular part of my childhood life. I grew up in a time where wellness was defined as the absence of illness. It's 2010 and the concept of wellness is constantly being refined and redefined (thankfully). If you spent the weekend at Expo West mingling with and sampling products from the almost 2,000 natural and organic companies, you only gleaned from a part of the whole experience. Some of the most inspirational, innovative content came from the second floor, as industry experts convened to discuss everything from managing food allergies to chemical-free cleaning. Doctors at Expo WestOne of the most interesting panels focused on The Future of Wellness, and included Dr. Alan Greene, Dr. William Sears, and Dr. Gerard Mullin. With two pediatricians on the panel, it became evident to me that wellness behaviors are modeled by parents and shaped during childhood. And those diseases we categorize as "adult-onset" (i.e., Alzheimer's, Type II Diabetes) have their roots in childhood. Rather than telling a parent a child is overweight or obese, Dr. William Sears tells parents their child is prediabetic. Not only does this remove the negative stigma associated with terms such as obese and overweight, it places emphasis on the severity of a condition that has the potential for life-altering consequences. The question begs...where do we start? Ideally, wellness, and everything that word encompasses (mind, body, spirit) should begin pre conception. It begins with a mother who recognizes and avoids those toxins that have the potential to negatively impact her future children. Did you know that 250 industrial chemicals have been found in cord blood samples from infants at birth? But what if it's too late? What if you're already pregnant? Or your child is already in school? Or you're an adult faced with the diagnosis of a chronic illness. Wellness begins now...regardless of what stage of life you're in. "When people are well informed, then can be trusted to govern themselves" (adapted from Thomas Jefferson). Today's consumer is educated and informed about current trends in nutrition and wellness. The responsibility of wellness therefore no longer solely rests with our physician. We must be proactive in our approach to self care, partnering with our physicians to discuss these issues. Physicians must empower individuals to take charge of our health...to provide the consumer with the tools necessary to be well and stay well. Taking a pill to "fix" a medical problem is no longer the cure-all. More and more, consumers are looking to bridge holistic and traditional medicine to achieve wellness. What I found to be encouraging is that our bodies are "a giant working pharmacy." Who would have thought that our body is capable of healing itself, just like a "pill," when given the necessary tools? Wellness...it's simple and complex...straightforward and abstract...fixed and malleable. I anticipate that we're just beginning to touch the surface of what it means to be well.