Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 7 - Ignoring Your Heritage

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Want to feel better and be healthier?
Look to your past.

Not just yesterday but to your long past.... your heritage.

Each of us has a lineage that goes back to the beginning of time. That's a lot of years and a lot of food choices.

Those who made good choices (like not eating poison mushrooms) lived to pass their genetic information on to their next generation.

Those who made poor choices (eating foods that didn't support their well being) died.

The smartest of the subsequent generations paid attention and chose foods that promoted good health.  They avoided foods that had made others sick.   Now add location to the mix.

Populations that lived near the sea ate a lot of fish.
People who farmed ate a lot of grains and dairy.
Nomadic people ate a lot of meat, cultured dairy and cheese.

Our individual nutritional needs are based, in large part, by the genetic code that was crafted especially for us from the choices made by our ancestors over millions of years.

Fast forward to today.

Today, we eat whatever we want, whenever we want and in any amount we want.  We totally ignore our heritage and, especially here in America where our heritage is so richly mixed, we aren't from any one direct line.  

Oh, many get by without eating like their ancestors (the body by nature is very adaptable) but to truly be healthy, we need to look to our past.

This is not to say that you can't incorporate other foods into your diet, you can and you should!  There's a whole, great big world of yummy things to eat out there!!

What this means is that based on your own personal heritage, you may need more meat, for example, than you typically eat or more dairy or more grain.... or the reverse - less.

Understanding the kinds of foods your ancestors ate is one of the keys to good health.  Holiday foods are a good place to start looking.

Many families have special ethnic dishes that are passed down from one generation to the next.  These recipes reflect the types of foods your ancestors were likely to eat.  Do they contain a lot of meat?  Are the dishes predominantly seafood?  Which vegetables are typically served?  How about desserts?  Are they rich with dairy or do they tend to be more fruit based?   These are all keys to help you determine your nutritional needs.

Looking to your past is a sure way to jump start a future of good health!


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