Recent research and long held traditions around health and food have challenged conventional practices of making available and promoting high carbohydrate, sugary, processed foods for convenience and economy. Some studies now conclude that animal fats have more to do with maintaining good health than eating the previously recommended low fat diet. Traditional Indigenous diets clearly show how eating from one’s own environment suits our overall well being and health. The experiences of our ancestors also has been shown to inform our own genetics, affecting our present day to day life. In this episode of Deep Roots Island Waves, Producer Manda Aufochs Gillespie links place, food, genetic history and health for insight into possibilities for understanding how we’re much more than we eat.”

Klahoose canoe Tl’emtl’ems leaves Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island, for the Paddle to Puyallop on July 14, 2018 - Roy L Hales photo
Cultivating Traditional Health by Manda Aufochs Gillespie, Deep Roots Island Waves

Traditional Health & Epigenetics

“This story of salmon boy is a fantastical creation myth and it is a story of how essential animals were to one indigenous community. Or how the health of a people in intricately connected to the health of their food source. This connection is behind one of today’s newest science buzzwords, epigenetics.

“Epigenectics is the study of how the expression of our genes can be turned up or down by environmental factors. We are learning that things we once considered hardwired, such as our tendency towards obesity, heart disease and even schizophrenia can be influenced by our grandparent’s diets or something like our great grandparent’s exposure to certain chemicals, or even experiences such as something that may have happened to our ancestors like one winter spent very hungry or extremely stressed during period of their childhood.”

Manda Aufochs-Gillespie is a health writer, author of the Green Mama series of books (Dundurn), and publisher of the award-winning website, Manda LOVES writing about, talking about and, of course, eating food! It’s been a dream getting to write for radio, meet and interview some of my heroes, and explore deeper my Cortes home while putting together this piece for Cortes radio. Thanks to each and everyone who took the time to share a bit of their story in shaping this story.