By Beth Reardon, MS, RDN, IDN
Ironically my journey as an adult started in Boston more than 25 years ago when my husband and I shared our first apartment in Brighton. We had both graduated the year before from Cornell University, where we met during our freshman year.
I graduated with a degree in Nutritional Biochemistry and had plans to continue on to complete medical school and teach what I felt was sorely lacking in the curriculum at that time. I loved what I studied and felt nutrition to be not only the foundation of health but also the antidote to “dis-ease”. It was not enough to know what to eat – I wanted to know why and what nutrients did for us at a functional level, moving us closer to or further from the holy grail of “optimal” health. I firmly believe that we are unique biochemical environments and what we choose to eat is an opportunity to move us closer to that vision.
In the years that followed I gave birth to our first daughter, completed a masters degree in Kinesiology at University of Michigan on Corporate Wellness, and moved around the country with stops in Baltimore, Ann Arbor, Coronado, Memphis, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and Chapel Hill North Carolina. Fast forward – 16 years later we found ourselves parents to three growing little girls; settling in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to spend the next 13 years working at Duke University Medical Center, home to great basketball and the Duke Integrative Medicine Center.
Early on I worked with a gifted cancer researcher coordinating two studies, one of which contributed to a landmark body of work for prostate cancer and another for breast cancer. Ask me what I think about the importance of flaxseed and exercise, but only if you have a few hours time!
My years at Duke Integrative Medicine were among the most important in my professional and personal development. Having trained through the lens of clinical science, the opportunity to witness the contributions of an integrative approach to healing was mind bending. To this day I do not pretend to be able to explain how complimentary practices work, bringing together the many nuances of healing and tapping into the bodies greatest healing potential, but I did stand witness to them. The uniqueness of what we did and how we accomplished it did not escape the eye of our Marketing Director. She saw a need to bring what we do to the masses. This need gave birth to our book, The Mindful Diet, a collaboration between myself and our Director of Research, and truly a labor of love. Emphasis on the latter as it was the longest labor and delivery I had ever experienced.
It was about this time that I was also introduced to the formal field of Functional Medicine, a medical practice that uses an integrative approach to health. Drawing from a person’s history and listening to their story together we are better able to understand the root cause of what brought them to me. Instead of treating “symptoms” we look “upstream” to where it all began for them. People are often amazed that their gut issues might have anything to do with joint pain or fatigue. I see Functional Medicine as the application of the biochemistry and physiology that I studied years (!) earlier to the person sitting in front of me.
Fast forward and here I am back in Boston with my husband, where it all started and where there appear to be many more cars than I remember.
So it is my pleasure and privilege to bring my experience to the Lown Cardiovascular Group. I am grateful to be able to work with a group that has such a respected history and standing in the community.