Published on January 31st, 2023 | by Natural Awakenings Publishing Corp.0
Continuing the Mission for Healing and Hope
In 1994, the same year Jeff Bezos founded Amazon and Deepak Chopra laid the first bricks on
his path to enlightenment, Sharon Bruckman created Natural Awakenings magazine. Each a
visionary. Each ahead of their time.
By the late 1990s Americans had developed a voracious appetite for well-researched, practical
information about the latest natural approaches to nutrition, fitness, personal growth and
sustainable living. The Natural Awakenings franchise was born, expanding into the largest
franchise publishing network in the health and wellness industry.
woven from the threads of grit, inspiration and serendipity, creating a tapestry of health, healing
and mindfulness. In an interview appearing in that issue, Bruckman clarified her purpose, saying,
“The why that has been keeping me ‘on purpose’ can be found in the same mission statement
that inspired me to create Natural Awakenings: to inspire and empower people to awaken to their
highest potential, so together we can create a world that works for all living things.”
The world’s delicate ecosystem, now in crisis, was also in need of help. “The critical issues we
now address in Natural Awakenings—like genetically modified foods and climate change—were
just emerging in serious public discourse then, but have since grown in urgency,” Bruckman
said. “The good news is that in the past 25 years, viable solutions in renewable technologies,
organic farming methods and holistic healthcare practices have made great strides; now they just
have to be implemented on grander scale.”
Shortly after the 25th anniversary issue was published, Joe Dunne, Natural Awakenings’ COO,
had a serendipitous meeting with Kimberly Whittle, founder and CEO of KnoWEwell. One
conversation later, he was certain that Whittle and Bruckman should meet, given their shared
vision and mission. Dunne describes KnoWEwell’s online Regenerative Whole Health Hub as
“WebMD, NEJM [New England Journal of Medicine], Match.com, Home Advisor, LinkedIn,
Facebook, Amazon, Quora, Medium and Apple News all rolled into one for health.” A week
later, Whittle was on a plane to Florida to visit Bruckman at her home. It was the start of a
providential relationship between two visionaries determined to bring natural healing, health and
hope to individuals and families.
A decade earlier, in 2009, Whittle was driven by a series of family health crises to embark on a
search for solutions. Deep diving into evidence-based research, she traveled the country to multiple integrative and functional medicine practitioner conferences. “I was blessed to find tremendous success in the prevention and healing of chronic conditions through what today is defined as Regenerative Whole Health, a broad spectrum of global healing approaches and therapies that consider the whole person—mind, body and spirit—connecting the dots between soil, food, lifestyle choices, planet and personal health to help prevent and address the root causes of chronic diseases,” she explains. “I began as a mom on a mission. As I grew into my family’s healer, and then a health and well-being resource for my friends, I felt a deep yearning to go beyond my community and help more people.”
formed KnoWEwell as a force for good in the world, to pay it forward and make it easier for
others facing their own health crises, and to pay it back to the professional organizations and
providers that helped her family heal. Much like Natural Awakenings, KnoWEwell’s mission is
to transform health care by inspiring and empowering individuals with the knowledge, resources
and community to proactively prevent harm, address chronic diseases and create “WELLthier
Living” for themselves, their families, humanity and the planet.
Last December, KnoWEwell acquired Natural Awakenings, creating an integrated ecosystem
that is committed to community, spanning the information gaps, providing immersive
multimedia educational experiences and fostering trusted connections locally and globally.
Together, these two companies are set to be the solution for consciousness, healing and hope.
Individually and collectively, we are facing unprecedented challenges. Human and planetary
health are in crisis, and they are inextricably linked. According to the World HealthOrganization, climate change is the biggest global health threat confronting humanity.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 33 percent of the
Earth’s soils are already degraded, and more than 90 percent could become degraded by 2050.
Soil erosion decreases agriculture productivity and contributes to a host of environmental threats. It can take up to 1,000 years to produce just two to three centimeters of soil.
While gene-edited crops are being promoted by the world’s largest chemical companies as
“giving mother nature a boost,” Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for ResponsibleTechnology, warns, “With gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR, nature could be permanently corrupted by countless GMOs, and our food supply—including organic—could be overrun.”
Meanwhile, six in 10 adults and more than half of all children have a chronic health condition.
The problem, Whittle believes, is that while our conventional medical system excels at acute care
for an injury or a heart attack, it was never designed to treat chronic conditions, focusing more
on the symptoms than the root cause of disease. Studies show there is a roughly 17-year lag
between new research and mainstream health and medicine practices.
Evidence-based research is proving that while our DNA may be our ancestry, it is not necessarily
our destiny. According to Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the father of functional medicine, “Our gene
expression is altered by numerous influences including environment, lifestyle, diet, activity
patterns, psycho-social-spiritual factors and stress. These lifestyle choices and environmental
exposures can push us toward (or away from) disease by turning on—or off—certain genes.”
knowledge and resources, individuals can change their lifestyle and environment to prevent and
reverse chronic health conditions.
Rodale Institute, a leader in organic farming education and research, points to the importance of
farming methods in addressing the health and planet crisis. According to the organization, “Hope
is right below our feet. Healthier soil grows healthier plants, and healthier plants are more
nutritious plants. In our work at Rodale Institute, we’re investigating the links between soil
health and human health and proving that organic [farming] can feed the world.”
Research by Rodale has confirmed that adoption of regenerative organic farming practices could
capture more than 100 percent of current, human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. Rodale researchers concluded, “We now know enough to have real hope, and with
this hope comes the responsibility to journey down a new path.”
Millennials are leading the way on conscious living, flocking to integrative options and opting
for more “natural” care, long advocated by Natural Awakenings. They now constitute the largest
sector of the U.S. workforce with annual spending power of $600 billion. Close to 60 percent of
millennials research information about health and nutrition online and on social media. This
health-conscious generation believes good health is both a personal and social responsibility.
They are early adopters of wearable technology and prefer organically grown, locally sourced
and ethically raised foods. But consumers of all ages are overwhelmed by information and
unverified online sources in the fragmented whole health market.
The World Economic Forum reported in 2021 that health care is undergoing a digital revolution
that requires multi-stakeholder collaboration and the bridging of information gaps by fusing the
digital and analog worlds. The 2017 industry white paper “The Rise of Wellcare”, by
PricewaterhouseCoopers, concluded that integrated ecosystems for the consumer in the
healthcare industry are essential. This paradigm would include products, services, social media,
community and environmental activism.
The good news is that Natural Awakenings magazine and KnoWEwell will continue to bring
new answers and common-sense approaches to be incorporated into an enjoyable, fulfilling and
healthy life. Whittle is honored to be continuing Bruckman’s legacy. “We are kindred spirits; I
have the same purpose and unwavering drive that Sharon had founding Natural Awakenings
nearly 30 years ago. I am deeply committed to multi-stakeholder collaboration that benefits all—
our families, communities and the planet. We will educate to bring consciousness of connections
into daily practices and respect for Mother Earth so all can thrive and prosper. Together, we will
inspire, empower and achieve a WELLthier Living World.”
Brooke Goode is KnoWEwell’s national editor.