What does âwellnessâ mean todayâand what will it mean in the future? These were the questions addressed by three top medical visionaries at Fridayâs âFuture of Wellnessâ session at Natural Products Expo West.
Led by Natural Foods Merchandiser Editor Anna Soref, the panel brought together Alan Greene, MD, author of Raising Baby Green; pediatric expert William Sears, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine, and author of more than 20 books about childrenâs health; and Gerard Mullin, MD, director of Integrative Gastroenterology Nutrition Services at Johns Hopkins University. The session was a follow-up to this monthâs special section of NFM that featured interviews with 13 thought leaders, many of whom work in sectors outside the natural products industry.
Leading physicians Gerard Mullin, William Sears and Alan Greene talk with NFM Editor Anna Soref.
Wellness is no longer just an absence of symptoms, the experts agreed. âThe idea of wellness has evolved,â said Greene. âWeâre all connected. Thereâs not a separation between us and the environment, other species and each other.â Right now physicians are still in the business of âdisease management,â added Mullin, and wellness needs to move toward the idea of âoptimal functioning.â
The experts also discussed how healthy living needs to be introduced much earlier than it is today, long before the onset of what we consider âage-relatedâ diseases, such as osteoporosis, Alzheimerâs and diabetes. âDisease begins in childhood,â said Sears. âWe need to focus on making changes early on.â Introducing children to healthy foods in the first year of lifeâindeed, in uteroâsets the gut to recognize these foods as healthy choices throughout life, Greene and Sears pointed out. âI no longer use the term âoverweightâ or âobeseâ in my practice; I use âprediabetic,ââ said Sears. âIt motivates parents to make a change.â
Experts also weighed in about whether or not government could be held responsible for personal health. Although there was general agreement that government could help spur people to make healthier choices through taxes of unhealthy ingredients, for example, each of the experts supported the idea that individuals should take personal responsibility for their own wellness. âAt Expo, the booths and products send the message of self care, that people can take care of themselves,â said Sears. âWe can empower the patient.â