For years, the natural and holistic approach to good health has battled its way for the headlines against the pharmaceutical companies’ “Band-Aid” approach, but Ed Jones is confident that natural prevention methods and remedies toward self-healing have stood firm against the competition.
“The health food industry stood up in the face of traditional medicine and told what was truthful. It is difficult standing up for the truth, but I don’t back down from any disagreement about health,” Ed says.
A Chattanooga transplant from Jacksonville, Fla., Ed grew up in the Brainerd area and observed his father’s business ethics as well as his commitment to health. As a child, he remembers a Shaklee representative talking to his parents about vitamins and Ed appreciated the idea of being able to take control of his own health by seeking a healthy lifestyle and learning how the human body is affected by natural herbs, vitamins and minerals.
“I remembered all the vitamin bottles lined up and the concept that you could alter your own health. It was deeply engrained in me that we have influence and control over our health. Most people didn’t believe that back then, but something clicked in my head and I thought, ‘If we have control and influence over our health, why would we not take advantage of that?’ Whether through food choices or vitamins, I took a lifelong study of nutrition in every area I could possibly pursue,” Ed insists.
During his last year of high school, Ed began working at GNC. He shared with his dad that he thought it would be good to have his own business in nutritional supplements, but he put the idea aside while he pursued a career in law enforcement.
His ‘rite of passage’ came about when he was just 17 years old as he talked his father into letting him take a cross-country trip by motorcycle all by himself. He traveled in 10 days from Chattanooga, to Florida and all the way to the Rocky Mountains.
“Every day, I rode until I got too tired to ride anymore. I didn’t do a straight line, I went to wherever the map or wherever my view pointed me to. It was different back then – there was no cell phone… I was truly isolated and had to find payphones to keep in touch. It was one of those things I wouldn’t trade for any other memory,” Ed smiles.
With his passion for adventure and also for helping others, Ed attended MTSU and majored in criminal justice. He had witnessed many of the riots going on and he wanted to make a difference in the community.
After graduating, Ed went directly to the Chattanooga Police Department. A year later he married his wife Donna. While patrolling, Ed would listen to cassette tapes in his car about nutrition. As he was learning more and gathering information, his passion for health and helping others took the necessary turn to follow the path set before him.
“I enjoyed being a patrolman for a few years, but when I saw that I didn’t want to make it a career, one thing led to another and it just so happened that there was a spot opened on Mountain Creek Road in Four Squares Mall. I opened a store there and stayed a few years until I moved to a better location,” Ed says.
“I had spent so much time with my father throughout his business and career. I always enjoyed the challenge of trying to develop and run a business and what makes it work. My dad was a wonderful person to entice and encourage me to follow my heart. Life is too short not to follow what is deep-seeded in your heart and that is what I did,” Ed shares.
He started Nutrition World in 1979 and eventually moved the location to Brainerd Village on Lee Highway, then opened a second location in Highland Plaza in Hixson. Running two businesses on opposite sides of the river became overwhelming and Ed closed the Hixson business and focused his efforts into one location in Brainerd.
It wasn’t about ringing up sales for Ed, though every business owner wants to make a profit. Ed enjoyed sharing insight on how local residents could take control of their health.
“I am very disenchanted with the medical model that is in place and so much of the information being dispersed to the public is inaccurate and only there to promote a system mainly for profit and not for the individuals' welfare or health,” Ed expresses.
He sheds light on issues concerning food coloring or chemicals in our foods and the effects of gluten in our diet, lack of Vitamin D and many various concerns in which we can change how our body responds to what we ingest.
“I am all about the truth. Physicians who shop here acknowledge that the medical model is somewhat broken and, for the benefit of their patients, they acknowledge that the real information isn’t what is on the headlines or what is taught in medical schools,” Ed asserts.
“My absolute core concept which I repeat half-a-dozen times a day (and it makes common sense) is that we were built with the capacity of self-healing,” Ed says.
“We were not put on this earth to run to drug stores and doctors just to stay well. The healing takes place with the healthy body. What we are trying to do is improve and optimize the inherent health we were given the moment we were born and, that is backed by science more today than any time in history. It is interestingly profitable for the pharmaceutical world to create symptoms, while we are trying to build health,” Ed says.
He teaches that most of the synthetic drugs on the market that are ingested are not recognized by the body and this is where certain drugs cause side effects or even play a part in diseases which are escalating at an alarming rate.
What the body cannot recognize, it doesn’t quite know how to process and the liver has to filter through the unnatural chemicals and many believe this is where the body forms certain cancers or other diseases, he says.
Ed is passionate in informing people of how accessible good health is and it is up to each individual.
“It wasn’t that many years ago that the New England Journal of Medicine had a very scathing report that the third leading cause of death in this country is prescription drugs which were taken correctly and, if the third leading cause of death is that many people (which is 100,000 per year), it doesn’t need to be taken lightly,” he says.
“Because there is a kind of ‘turf war’ going on that is increasing, the people who have the ability to make headlines are attempting to discredit the use of nutrition as therapeutic and the use of nutrition as healing, by reporting ridiculous studies sometimes set up to come out with a negative income,” Ed claims.
With reports of studies debunking the effectiveness in a vitamin or supplement, Ed says profiting companies tend to use the least effective on the market to discredit all the natural products as a whole.
“We are in a precarious time because we don’t know how ‘the powers that be’ will end up deciding on how and what the legislation could do in super-regulating nutrition,” Ed says.
According to Ed, the current “black eye” of the health food and supplement industry are those who are promoting sexual stimulants and various athletic supplements. Those are concerns for Ed because he feels they do not take an ethical approach to inform truth to the public.
“That is important to me because I have seen so much we are exposed to that is not based in truth or ethics. I feel like it is my life’s calling to be the one who will stand up in the face of opponents and to educate the community,” Ed vows.
Most nutritional companies have the highest levels of ethics and honesty that Ed has seen in the industry. Best-selling author Carl Germano, who wrote “The Misled Athlete”, exposes the myths on what has been promoted over the years. He has been invited to give a lecture sponsored by Nutrition World. It will be held at the lower level of Nutrition World on Thursday, April 3, at 6 p.m. Mr. Germano is a dietician, CNS, CDN and RYT.
“This is going to revolutionize some of the ideas the community has on protein, supplements and certain foods. Half the time, the truths I share don’t promote additional business and this lecture is going to tell us to quit drinking so many protein drinks - drink one a day, but you don’t need three,” Ed concedes.
Over the years, Nutrition World has evolved from a health store to a wellness center with the approach to wellness as a whole. Offering their own brand as well as many leading brands recognized as high quality, Nutrition World is no longer just a supplement store. The store also offers yoga and various services such as personal training, physical therapy and chiropractic and holds lectures in the yoga studio downstairs.
“I am totally connected to the holistic community of promoting natural products for better health and it all goes together. There is not one segment that creates health. It will require looking at a big circle of services and requirements that meet the needs of the community,” Ed says.
“And this is where the traditional side of medicine fails because there is no single magic bullet. They are looking to just make people temporarily feel better and not really addressing the best underlying reasons of why they can’t heal. They will say, “Let’s reduce your pain today and make you feel better and …good luck - we will see you in a few months,” Ed chuckles.
Wife Donna and daughter Cady are an integral part of the team at Nutrition World. As the family attends several health fairs (including the one hosted at Volkswagen) they give out nutritional information with samples of their products. While selling health food, the company also donates food to the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home.
“We are a basic health food store. We are not trying to be like the big guys, but we carry enough of what people are looking for today,” Ed says.
Away from the business, Ed has taken up flying. Shortly after turning 50, he obtained his private license as well as his instrument license. He flies to Nashville or Florida but he hopes to repeat his teenage adventure by taking on another 10-day trip on his own – possibly to Alaska.
He says, “I love to fly. I don’t go many places, but I just love to be up in the sky.”