Health Is Within Your Reach

by Guest Blogger: Heather Rittgers

Nutrition & Welness Coach

Researchers have found that our lifestyle affects 70 percent of our health.  Our health destiny largely lies within our control (see note 1). While it may appear that a condition may run in our family, we need to remember that we don’t just inherit genes from our parents, we also inherit habits, lifestyle, attitudes, and even recipes. These factors can form a lifestyle that has more of an effect on our health destiny than our genetic predisposition.

While my dad was going through his things, he ran across a card I made him when I was about seven. It read, “Fathers are made of water, sweat, vitamins and love”. He was a health advocate and I took notice. I was fortunate to have parents that modeled a healthy lifestyle when I was young. They were “health nuts” of the 1980’s.

My dad was an ultra-marathon runner and my mom ran, taught aerobics, and made clean food. We didn’t eat sugar or red meat and always had plenty of fruits and veggies. My mom had me eating yogurt before it was popular and made her own granola as well as orange juice popsicles. Those healthy lifestyle habits were solidified during my formative years. They have been the springboard for my passion to teach others the simple power of lifestyle choices.

According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, “Lifestyle Medicine involves the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substance use, and other non-drug modalities, to prevent, treat, and, often times, reverse the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that’s all too prevalent”.

When you look at the individual components of lifestyle medicine it is hard to imagine that these simple modifications can make a marked difference in one’s health, but the results are very encouraging. I have seen results in myself and in my clients. Lifestyle medicine addresses the CAUSES of chronic diseases. The body wants to heal when given the proper environment.

If a person had to choose only one area of lifestyle to address, nutrition would be the one to attack. What we eat is the most powerful way to affect our gene expression. Food also affects our mood. That is why I am passionate about a high-nutrient diet. The more plants on the plate—the better. Plant-based nutrition is a game-changer. Plants are chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and polyphenols that we need to thrive.

I have witnessed and facilitated many people taking their health back. Yes, health is within your reach. What are you waiting for?

(Note1) Danaei, G, et al (2009), “The preventable causes of death in the United States; comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors,” PLoS Medicine, Vol 6 No 4, e100058.