if you, like us, have a healthy obsession with wellness and nutrition, you definitely know about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. However, you may not be as familiar with the school’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal. The visionary behind IIN, Mr. Rosenthal has created more than a school for aspiring health coaches, he has created a movement, revolutionizing the realm of health education. With tens of thousands of students and one of the most unique classroom settings you’ll ever find (guest teachers include Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, Geneen Roth, Neil Barnard and more), IIN is literally changing the world of heath professionalism, as we know it. Mr. Rosenthal is constantly encouraging students of all ages and backgrounds to take control of their own physical and mental health and to guide others to do the same, so we were thrilled to be able to sit down with this brilliant mind to discuss true health, and how he’s spreading his message about the Integrative Nutrition program around the globe.
You have completely innovated the community of professionals working to improve health in America. Tell us a bit about your journey and how you created this incredible institution. What was the moment when the lightbulb turned on and you realized that this is what you were meant to do?
“I studied macrobiotics extensively with Michio and Aveline Kushi at the Kushi Institute. While there, I adopted the macrobiotic diet and way of life for many years. During my time with Michio, I saw that he had a keen awareness of the subtleties of food preparation and consumption. He inspired me to commit my life to this kind of understanding and pass it on to my students. In addition, Michio created the One Peaceful World Network and approach. This is approach helps people to live harmoniously through macrobiotics, creating a healthy mind, home and community.
Integrative Nutrition’s mission to create a ripple effect of health and happiness that transforms the world is reflective of One Peaceful World. I’ve expanded on our mission to our 2020 vision. This is our goal: to have the world see clearly — with 20/20 vision — that food changes everything. While studying with Michio and his wife Aveline was a pivotal time in my life, it also ignited my awareness about the limitations of macrobiotics. This spurred my quest to gather a broader base of knowledge and information about food and health. I started thinking that there was more to health than simply eating healthy food. As I worked with more and more clients, the Integrative Nutrition theories of Primary Food and bioindividuality were born.”
What are the biggest hurdles and lessons that you have learned along the way?
“When society as a whole begins to evolve and understand that food changes everything, we will see major impacts on social change. It makes sense that when people are happier and healthier, working at jobs that fulfill them, getting adequate exercise, enjoying nourishing relationships, and developing a spiritual practice, that crime rates will go down, student achievement scores will rise and rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer will drop. This shows that we have to get nutrition education to those areas where crime is a problem. The same goes for children and young people. We need to vote with our fork and make our voices heard. Right now, the government is on the side of corporations. When health is the number-one priority in this country and around the world, we will see the benefits of our movement.”
What would you say best defines the IIN philosophy?
“I feel that everyone has a responsibility to do work that will make the world a better place. My work is the direct result of my vision that the world can be happier and healthier. When people discover Integrative Nutrition, hear about primary food for the first time and meet a community of passionate people out to change the world, they suddenly become inspired. This is what motivates me. When I see people make simple changes that drastically improve their health and happiness, I think, ‘Everyone can do this! Let’s make it happen.'”
Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
“My greatest inspiration year after year is the students and graduates of Integrative Nutrition. I’m truly humbled by their passion and devotion to making the world a happier, healthier place.”
Tell us about what some of the IIN students are doing out in the world.
“Integrative Nutrition has almost 20,000 students and graduates in 88 countries. Recently, we enrolled students in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. I think about the impact we are having now, and then think what would it look like to double or triple that. It’s an incredible feeling. Our students and grads are changing the world. I don’t think very many schools can say they have a community as unique, diverse and passionate as ours. I am very proud and humbled to be associated with these amazing people.
There are an immeasurable number of lives that have been impacted by the movement. In some large or small way, people are being helped every day. People heal relationships, help family get healthy, leave a career that’s dragging them down. They start caring about what they eat and how it effects their body, health, the planet and future generations. Knowledge is something that is naturally and organically passed on to others when you are passionate and the knowledge is life changing.”
Any exciting developments or projects in the works?
“As part of our 2020 Vision, we launched our very own Seed Grant Program last year, awarding grants to extraordinary students and graduates planning to make a difference. We are committed to being the catalyst for change and we are doing everything in our power to help our students and graduates who share a similar vision. Integrative Nutrition Seed Grants are for students and graduates who use their IIN education to spread health and happiness around the world. Whether it’s opening a health coaching practice or doing community-based work, we are looking to fund innovative, nutrition-related projects that will make a positive impact on their community or across the globe. The 2011 Seed Grant recipients were chosen and we couldn’t be more thrilled to support these members of the IIN community in their efforts to make healthy living more accessible for everyone. The next round of applications are set to launch in 2012.
For several years, we have continued to offer full scholarships to school nutrition directors, principals and superintendents to help impact the mission of healthy school food. Our mission is to provide school administrators and food service directors a knowledge base on whole foods and healthy lifestyles that they can use to bring about transformation in their school systems. With an IIN education, these school leaders gain the essential knowledge needed to educate their school and students about whole foods, nourishing their minds and bodies and living a more healthful life. Our initial goal was to reach 100,000 kids, and we are proud to say we have already reached nearly 150,000!
As the largest nutrition school in the world, Integrative Nutrition is committed to making a difference by improving the health and happiness of communities worldwide. In addition to providing a world-class Health Coach Training Program, we consistently partner with organizations whose missions are to make a difference in the world. Through our charitable giving partnerships, we support non-profits that preserve and promote seasonal, local eating and educates consumers on the dangers of fast food, commercial agribusiness and factory farms. Our partner organizations fight issues of childhood obesity, farm animal cruelty, hunger, lack of nutrition and nutrition education in low income communities and we actively support ongoing relief efforts of the American Red Cross.”
Joshua Rosenthal, MScED is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition, students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.