When Jon Holznagel was diagnosed with lung cancer, he didn’t want to accept the answers provided by his oncologist. “I’m a firm believer in knowledge and understanding, and using all-natural products,” he says. He steadfastly stuck to his beliefs, and eight months after the diagnosis, his oncologist couldn’t find any traces of cancer.
Holznagel, known as Dr. Jon to his customers at To Your Health Natural Foods, grew up during the mid-century when TV dinners and processed foods were becoming mainstays in American diets, but his family remained true to organic, whole foods. Holznagel fondly recalls many family trips to Penns Creek, Pennsylvania’s longest limestone stream and a popular fishing spot. Near Penns Creek was Walnut Acres farm, where Holznagel’s father frequently purchased organic produce for the family.
Holznagel remained interested in nature and earned a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture in 1966 from Delaware Valley University. But like many youth during the 1960s, Holznagel’s plans came to an abrupt halt when he was drafted by the United States Army to serve in the Vietnam War. After he was honorably discharged, he worked for a landscaper in Bucks County for 28 years as an estimator and supervisor.
“I got burned out and was ready to change careers,” he says. “That’s when I want back to school.” He studied nutrition through Clayton College of Natural Health, a distant learning school that was based in Alabama. “I earned a Ph.D. in nutrition from their program and started a business so I could provide a natural food store to my local community.”
Holznagel opened To Your Health Natural Foods in 1995. He stocks high quality vitamins and supplements from smaller, specialized vendors such as Whole Earth & Sea, Nordic Naturals and EuroPharma, based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Their popular Terry Naturally Curamin contains curcumin, a property of turmeric that can ease joint inflammation. As people prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season, Holznagel has seen an increased demand for vitamin D and elderberry products, which he says boosts the immune system.
“Maintaining good health all comes down to the immune system,” he advises. He provides personalized nutrition counseling and enjoys talking to customers about maintaining balanced diets. He credits To You Health’s success to Sylvia, his wife of 44 years who served as Community Blood Director of the local American Red Cross chapter for four decades, as well as his store employees that are trained in holistic areas such as aromatherapy and integrative physician therapies. He feels that the experience and sense of community his staff exemplifies helps set To Your Health apart from big-box stores. “We have the knowledge to guide people in the right direction, because there can be 35 products that all do the same thing, but people need to select the one product for them, without wasting money. Some stores have a dollar set value goal they like to hit with each of their customers, but we don’t do that here. Sometimes customers don’t buy anything, but we give them nutritional counseling and they later return and become lifelong customers.”
To Your Health also carries natural health and beauty aids, and refrigerated items such as probiotics and specialty health juices like noni that aren’t available at larger stores.Although To Your Health had a larger food selection when Holznagel first opened, competition from larger supermarkets and online shopping has caused him to shift focus to vitamins and supplements. To stay competitive, he runs sales and offers store coupons through direct-mail advertising.
Tangible, real-life results keeps Holznagel motivated to educate people about maintaining good health through natural means. At age 75, Holznagel feels great and is living proof of the power of holistic health.