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Winner of the Changing the World Scholarship

Ella Woolman

Ella's essay exemplifies her commitment to innovation, positive change, and sharing that knowledge with others. Her quest to overcome personal obstacles through education, implement what she has learned, and then share it with others to make the world a better place is exactly what the Changing the World Scholarship is all about.

Ella Woolman

Read Ella's Essay:

Walking through the aisles of my local grocery I find myself upset and frustrated. Customers need a PhD in Nutrition to understand food packaging labels. Food, branded to sound healthy, packed with ingredients that are anything but. Carrageenan, a thickener found in many “healthy” almond milk products, has been linked to irritable bowel syndrome. Propylene Glycol, an additive used to keep products “fresh”, is also used to manufacture paint. The food we eat is making us sick. Type 2 Diabetes, for the most part, is a man-made disease, caused by highly processed foods, over-eating, and a reluctance to engage in exercise. I have experienced first-hand the power of a healthy lifestyle to heal. When medication failed to resolve my cystic acne, nutrition and exercise provided a powerful answer. It was not easy, it took research, hard work and discipline. But the hardest part by far was not having any medical guidance or roadmap with a lifestyle approach to follow. I researched my condition and found a connection between gut issues and cystic acne. I began experimenting, limiting ingredients that could affect my gut health and trigger acne. I systematically cut out dairy, colorings, processed oils, thickeners, gums, processed foods, and synthetic sugars. I discovered that by adjusting my nutritional intake I could reduce flare-ups and help balance my hormone levels and gut microbiome. Furthermore, I found a link between exercise, skin health, and mental well-being. Curious to understand how much effort would be optimal for my skin, I tracked my running activity and recorded results, experimenting with intensity and duration. After two months I was able to determine that a 12-minute intense daily run resulted in the clear skin I desired. Armed with this insight, I certified as a running coach, leading sessions for teenage girls in my community focused on building social, emotional, and physical skills while encouraging healthier lifestyles. Approaching the problem holistically improved my overall health, leading me to take up weightlifting. Now, as a certified Olympic weightlifting coach, I advocate for a safe, inclusive, and accessible weightlifting space for women in collaboration with leadership at the Charlotte Jewish Community Center. Medications such as Accutane are seen as a quick and efficient fix; however, they often suppress underlying health issues and potentially make them worse in the long run. I believe that with a whole lifestyle approach, individuals will be able to achieve a far better overall level of health at a fraction of the cost of traditional medication. This will require a shift in our current thinking and a willingness to embrace new ideas and approaches, not only from doctors, but from patients, and society as a whole. As a doctor, it is through this lens that I will serve my patients and give back to my community. A doctor that embraces a holistic and integrative approach to patient care, an approach that puts nutrition and physical activity at the heart of the healthcare equation and every patient encounter, and turns to medicine only when necessary.

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