Ask an expert - MICHAEL STROKA, C0-FOUNDER & CEO
Last updated 4/14/2020 at 8:54am | View PDF
What is the goal of the American Nutrition Association?
A healthy diet isn't one-size-fits-all. That's something that Michael Stroka learned the hard way. Despite eating what he believed to be a healthy, balanced diet, Stroka became so ill more than a decade ago, he couldn't go to work. Diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, he was desperate for a solution that would make him feel better.
"That's when I started doing deep, therapeutic nutrition," Stroka said.
He engaged in what he calls a "deep dive" into his nutritional needs, analyzing his vitamin and mineral status, his rate of oxidation, his metabolism. A nutritionist studied Stroka inside and out and finally concluded that his body couldn't thrive on the low-fat diet he had long believed to be healthy.
"When I ate that first meal that was designed for me, I felt like Superman," Stroka said. "Nutrition brought me back to vibrant health."
Ten years later, he's still enjoying the diet of rich fats, rich proteins, fermented foods and vegetables that he was prescribed. And he's thriving professionally, as well, as chief executive officer and co-founder of the Hinsdale-based American Nutrition Association.
A merger of five nutrition-focused organizations, the ANA was formed late last year with a focus on bringing personalized nutrition to health care. Put simply, the ANA is working toward a day when food and nutrition are treated as medicine.
Stroka said the medical tools and knowledge available today are far more sophisticated than when he went searching for the cause of his problems. With the medical field's ability to analyze a person's genome and microbiome, Stroka said personalized nutrition holds the potential to prevent and even reverse such conditions as obesity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and autoimmune diseases.
"Nutrition is the most important lever for preventing and reversing chronic illness and obesity," Stroka said.
He said it's no surprise that more doctors don't address diet as a normal part of a patient's routine care. Stroka said doctors typically receive no more than three hours of education in nutrition during their training.
"That obviously leaves a lot to be desired," Stroka said.
Through a variety of trainings, certifications and educational tools, the ANA is trying to change that. The association promotes personalized nutrition to scientists and people throughout the medical and nutritional professions.
About 1,300 people have earned the title of certified nutrition specialist - the gold standard in personalized nutrition and the ANA's highest credential. Thousands more have completed webinars, less certifications and trainings.
Membership in the ANA currently stands at about 5,000 professionals and members of the public. Various levels of membership are available, some without cost. More information is available at https://www.theana.org.
A resident of Western Springs, Stroka said Hinsdale is a great place to work and a good home for the ANA. He said the host of healthy eating options within walking distance of the ANA headquarters makes Hinsdale a place that he and his staff are proud to be part of.