Food for Thought: Can the Cuisine of Your Ethnic Roots Bring Health and Happiness?
by S. Yevette Sutter, RN, CT
What is your ancestral heritage? It’s all the rage today to check your DNA and connect with your ethnic history and background. Is the body genetically programmed to thrive on foods which were prevalent in the diet of your ancestors? Take a look at your genetic heritage and focus your diet on those foods consumed by your specific cultural ancestor.
For example, each culture has traditionally fermented foods which supply enzymes to help with digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. In many cases, the mandatory pasteurization and homogenization have robbed you of the benefits of enzyme rich foods, but what are the traditional fermented foods that fit your genetic profile?
Research has shown that traditional diets around the world protect ethnic groups from the major illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, which have become rampant in the industrialized world. Could this same approach help prevent allergies and food intolerances for you?
For instance, if you are of Asian descent, should you avoid milk products and consume more rice or fermented soy products? If your heritage is Northern European, should your diet be centered around fish and dairy, eliminating rice, corn, beans or raw vegetables? If you come from Latin American, should your staple foods, by contrast, be corn, beans and fish?
New research has shown that Northern Europeans find it difficult to adhere to the Mediterranean diet which consists of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and cereals with low amounts of red meat and dairy products. Conversely, these people thrive on cold weather veggies like cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, blueberries and lingonberries. This raises the question, can we keep consuming products that are produced thousands of miles away from our homelands and expect our health to thrive?
Many traditional diets rely on soaking, sprouting and sour leavening to make foods more nutritious and easier to digest. These practices help to break down the phytates in grains and seeds which otherwise interfere with the absorption of minerals in the body. Sprouting also multiplies the vitamin content of plant foods. What traditional diets lack is refined flour and sugar, processed foods loaded with chemical preservatives, enzymes, or pasteurized milk and cheese, and processed hydrogenated vegetable oils. Whereas the modern processed versions of these foods are indigestible and cause illness.
What are your ancestral food traditions? Each unique culture eats quite differently. Some consume no plant foods, while some eat an abundance of plants. Some consume raw dairy, and some avoid it entirely. However, there is a common denominator discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price which is that sacred food always are derived from animals, never from plants. These sacred foods are extraordinarily high in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K which supercharge the mineral absorption in the body.
How can your round out your own diet with whole food staples that reflect the general eating pattern of your ancestors with these sacred foods remaining the focal point in order to enhance wellness and immunity from disease? Refer to certain websites (such as WestonAPrice.org) for articles and guides on traditional diets. In addition, you can also read the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price and Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan, MD. Below are the main components of an indigenous ancestral diet:
- Foods that are local, fresh and in season
- Communal eating, eating for satiety not fullness, observation of fasts and other food rituals
- Sugar that comes from whole foods such as honey, fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Salt that comes from natural and unprocessed sources
- Naturally raised meat and dairy as a precious commodity
- Fermented and pickled foods
- Spices used for the purpose of healing
This coming year, be proactive in seeking optimal health through nutrition for both you and your family. With that goal in mind, at Sandhill Healing Center we look forward to helping you create a blueprint for customized health and well-being through blood chemistry, CBC analysis and nutritional assessments from a functional perspective of acupuncture, Chinese herbals, thermography and massage.
S. Yevette Sutter is a lifestyle and diet educator, as well as a certified medical thermographer, at Sandhill Healing Center, located at 24901 Sandhill Blvd., Suite 8, Port Charlotte. For more information, call 941-235-8929 or visit SHH.ABMP.com.
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