It was 2005, and Lynn Bednar was dealing with a series of health problems, including back issues.

Lynn Bednar, owner of Walsh Natural Health Credit: Supplied

Disappointed with what the traditional medical system had to offer and dissatisfied with the temporary nature of prescription meds, she started exploring other options. She began with a deep dive into alternative therapies such as acupuncture, reiki, massage, hydrotherapy and supplements. That is where the journey to her store, Walsh Natural Health, began. 

“I was so fascinated with this whole other world that I had never been introduced to in my 40 years,” Bednar recalls. “In order to learn more about it, and perhaps create a new career around it, I called the store to inquire about working there. Turns out, it was for sale. Since I had a strong business background, I knew I could run a business. And so, I bought it!”

Walsh Natural Health, named for a previous owner, is now in its 17th year under Bednar’s ownership. At 2116½ Central St., it’s a top Chicagoland destination for health and wellness solutions.

“Our number one priority when it comes to our products is quality,” Bednar said. “We carry companies that go beyond FDA requirements, that are careful about their sourcing of ingredients and that have products that are backed by science.

“While we try to tailor our recommendations to what each individual needs, we do have some products that are more commonly purchased than others. These include collagen peptides, turmeric, probiotics and multivitamins. And of course, throughout the pandemic, immune support supplements have been very much in demand.”

Pursuing a passion

Bednar had previously worked at a large accounting firm and in commercial real estate portfolio management. She stepped away from her career to be home with her kids, and after her divorce realized she needed to return to work. 

Shelves at Walsh Natural Health are stocked with an array of products. Credit: Supplied

“After making the rounds with some of my old colleagues, I realized that I wanted to do something different,” she said. “After the health problems I mentioned, I became really interested in natural health. I wanted something that was flexible so that I could be around for my kids and going back to the corporate life just wasn’t the answer.” 

Bednar said she had always loved science and had at one time wanted to be a naturopathic doctor. Unfortunately, she said, a full-time program didn’t work with her schedule, so in 2015 she opted for a master of science in nutrition degree, which would allow her to be licensed in Illinois. Now, in addition to owning the store, she runs weight loss and detox groups and sees clients individually for nutrition consultations. She also works with clients on hormone balancing, weight loss, managing chronic disease and illness or injury recovery.

“I love being in Evanston because it has so much to offer culturally, has a great dining scene, is very diverse, and is committed to building community. We have been so grateful for our customers that really supported us during the pandemic. We wouldn’t be here without them.” 

Lynn Bednar

A current area of interest for Bednar is nutrigenomics, which studies the relationship between the human genome, human nutrition and health.

“Basically, it takes your raw data file from 23 & Me or and converts it into a report that shows genetic variations that can potentially be remedied by nutrition,” Bednar said. “What I really love about it is that it goes to the root of why someone might be experiencing certain symptoms. This is still a burgeoning field and new research is coming out about it constantly. I’m happy to help clients navigate this and potentially get solutions that will make a big difference in their health.”

Health and nutrition

Bednar said nutritional supplements that aid mitochondrial and microvascular health may help with some common post-COVID fatigue and brain fog symptoms. “The key is to look at what the person is experiencing and go from there,” she said. “Just as with any illness, I believe that supplements can play an important role in recovery.”

Bednar said that natural heath starts with the diet, and over the years consumers have been trained to eat packaged and processed foods, many devoid of nutrients. Food companies have spent lots of money getting the public to want these foods, even though they are not healthy. Lifestyle, particularly stress management, is crucial as well. The time people spend outside, the amount they move and the connection they have with others can all have a great impact on health.

For those who eat a typical American diet, the first thing Bednar recommends is a quality multivitamin to fill in the gaps that may exist in the diet and provide a base level of vitamins and minerals to bolster one’s energy. From there, she believes supplement use should be personalized to each individual’s health history, health challenges and goals.

Walsh Natural Health is a full-fledged apothecary featuring some of the most popular brands of natural skin care, natural home products and emotional/energetic support products like flower essences. The store offers free, same-day delivery for orders over $35 to Evanston and surrounding area ZIP codes.

“I love being in Evanston because it has so much to offer culturally, has a great dining scene, is very diverse and is committed to building community,” Bednar said. “We have been so grateful for our customers that really supported us during the pandemic. We wouldn’t be here without them.” 

Belinda Lichty Clarke works as the alumni engagement director at Medill at Northwestern and is a freelance writer. After graduating with a master’s from Medill in 1994, Belinda worked in public relations,...

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