By PARIS WOLFE
In a perfect world, we would eat right, exercise and have perfect health. The people at Heinen’s are working to make that easier for all of us in their grocery stores.
In January 2022, the local chain of 23 grocery stores introduced a new Personalized Nutrition Center (PNC) in its Mayfield Village store. The center is like a medical office in a grocery store, only better. Instead of treating disease, the medical staff and dietitians identify personal health needs and “prescribe” actions, including food, supplements, and vitamin therapies, to improve energy and wellness. The goal is to help shoppers maintain and improve health.
The PNC is the brainchild of Todd Pesek, MD, Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer, and Chris Foltz, Heinen’s Chief Innovation Officer.They brought the merits of this approach to owners Tom and Jeff Heinen who agree that the grocery store is the pharmacy of the future.
“This is the future of medicine,” says Pesek. “It’s both revolutionary and commonsensical to have a doctor in a grocery store.” Pesek is also founder of the 15-year-old local, integrative medicine practice VitalHealth Partners in Willoughby Hills and Westlake.
The PNC offers a fee-based VitalHealth Optimization Package which culminates with action points tailored to the individual. These are based on a panel of propriety blood and urine tests developed in collaboration with Cleveland HeartLab. They offer biomarkers that predict cardiovascular risk and inflammation among other things.
The panel assesses key indicators in immune, digestive, and cardiovascular health.The results, such as heart healthmetrics, are discussed with Pesek or an associate during a personal consultation. For most people the next step is to spend some time with Heinen’s Chief Registered Dietitian Melanie Jatsek or an associate. Together these experts will recommend whole food, whole food supplements, and perhaps vitamin therapies to improve health from the inside out.
Pesek notes, “Although there are many drivers of disease, approximately 20 percent of factors drive 80 percent of disease. We want to address that 80 percent with minimal effort and maximum outcome, so we focus on three critical systems: immune, digestive, and cardiovascular.”
The tests help assess these key systems, so the experts can make targeted recommendations.
Jamie Cole, Club Fx Manager, says, “This proprietary blood panel comes at a time when people are highly concerned about their health and often feel they have no control. This provides them a sense of control.”
Club Fx is a free program for Heinen’s Tasteful Rewards members. It offers education and support through email communication to inspire customers to optimize their health. The PNC enhances the program.
“Food is so habitual,” says Cole. “It’s hard to make change, but if you knew there were things you could substitute and be healthier, wouldn’t you want to do that?”
In the spirit of Hippocrates, Pesek says, “We know that food is medicine. That means the grocery store is the pharmacy of the future. We offer personalized nutrition recommendations that are rooted in nature and grounded in science. Our individualized programs are designed by clinical experts who understand what nutrients the body needs for long-term health and wellness.”
“We take a tailored approach based on biometrics,” says Pesek. “We empower individuals to take action using evidence-based results.”
Some folks identify increased heart risk factors, while others discover a dietary reason underlying chronic fatigue. Both can be addressed with diet and supplementation.
For many people vitamin D levels are low. This can be remedied with supplementation, says Pesek. “Vitamin D is responsible for our basic functioning with roles not only in immune strength but also prevention and memory, cognition, and sleep,” he explains.
“We know that in addition to the classic bone strength and health benefits – the prevention of brittle, weak bones or osteoporosis – vitamin D has also been linked to the prevention of various cancers, diabetes type 1 and type 2, hypertension, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.”
And the list goes on. “Additionally,” he says, “Vitamin D helps support the immune system in fighting off infections. So, the next time you are thinking about immune system support through cold and flu season, be sure your D is optimal. Supplementation with a high-quality, whole-foods vitamin D supplement can address this.”
Tom Heinen is a supporter and a user of the new program. In fact, in October 2020 he had his first VitalHealth Optimization Panel drawn. “It showed a number of things including a low vitamin D level and a marker that indicates a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke,” he says. He chose to modify his diet as well as add whole-food-based dietary supplements and advanced vitamin therapies. “In January 2022 there was significant improvement including reduced risk for heart attack and stroke. In addition, my vitamin D level is now optimal, and I noticed improvements in energy, mental clarity and mood.”
Services are available by appointment only. For more information visit, www.heinens.com/personalized-nutrition-center-by-heinens/.
Food as Medicine – Heinen’s offers new Personalized Nutrition Center
By PARIS WOLFE