I consider the indigenous to be the true guardians of our earth. They have a profound and spiritual relationship with mother earth which has given them the guidance to practise reciprocity, diffidence and deep respect, ancient and sacred practises that have stemmed from values extending as far back as thousands of years. Unlike the greed, self-seeking and continuous dissatisfaction that plagues our society in the west and every culture that has been invaded by it’s influence, the indigenous understood that they should only take what they need while doing so with great care and sensitivity towards the earth’s resources and consideration for future generations so that they would not lack that which is available to us now.
I remember reading an article a while back regarding the diet of indigenous people belonging to the Amazon and Costa Rica. What I read didn’t surprise me in the slightest. Their diet was high in nuts, legumes, vegetables, fruits, oily fish, foods such as yams, squash, sweet potatoes, black beans, and devoid of any red meat, gluten and dairy. So it should not come as a shock to hear that national geographic reported the elderly members of these tribes living until (and sometimes well past the age) of a hundred. Their traditional diet has always been high in protein, complex carbohydrates and nutrients, and low in sugars, although the diet varies depending on their location and the time of the year. They spent much time gathering, hunting, and preparing food which required much physical activity, therefore helping preserve their health along with their diet. A study on indigenous food systems, nutrition and health claims that indigenous people’s food systems contain knowledge and insight from long-evolved cultures and patterns of living in harmony with their local ecosystems. There is much we can learn from them when it comes to both our physical, and mental health.
During the arrival of the Europeans in Australia, most of the traditional lands were taken over by farmers, disrupting the everyday lives of the indigenous and causing them to live in settlements, obtaining there food from the europeans and adapting to their diet. The majority of the foods that made up this diet were high in fat, sugar and salt. The dependance on the Europeans gradually led to the indigenous converting to the western diet. This resulted in them no longer spending time moving to gather food or prepare food and instead sitting around settlements. The switch to lack of physical activity, caused health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. This was the result of going from a fibre-rich, high protein, low-saturated-fat traditional diet, to one that was excessively high in refined carbohydrates such as white flour, rice and bread, and foods high in saturated fats, found in most animal products.
It does not take the example of this story to prove the detrimental effects that the western diet has had on our health, however, it is sufficient evidence to show what happens when we switch from a diet high in proteins, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, essential fatty acids (found in healthy fats) and water needed to nourish the body’s cells and organs, and replace that diet with one high in saturated fat, meat, processed foods, lack of fruit and vegetables, high in salt, alcohol, gluten and dairy. Lack of nutrition leads to heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, a weak immune system, some cancers, gall bladder disease, iron-deficient (anaemia), obesity, a damaged gut, which has the potential to create havoc on all organs in the body and the list goes on.
Shamantic healers in the amazon have a deep respect and knowledge about the food they put into their bodies. Their knowledge of herbs and plants is extensive. They are highly educated about the properties of each plant and the health benefits, as well as each individual plant’s power to eliminate and prevent common diseases. Their food system is uncomplicated. Villagers rely on amazonian fish for the bulk of their meals but alongside that, a large amount of amazonian vegetables and fruits, including cacao which is one of the richest antioxidant dense foods packed with B vitamins, one of many we are deficient in, and which are essential for strong health. Their diet has what the west lacks : nutrition, powerful superfoods and that which is high in antioxidants. It is no wonder that the natives are lean, agile, strong, healthy and with a life expectancy that reaches far beyond us in the west, when their diet, combined with their extensive knowledge and ancient wisdom of plants, is fruitful. We have overly complicated our diet and it need not be that way, for similarly to a shaman’s answer, when anyone asks me how and what should we eat I reply “whatever comes directly from the earth”. It really is that simple.
It is ironic that in the west, we have choose to dissociate from cultures that have a such a strong and primary relationship with the earth that we have long lost, in spite of the extensive research indicating that the diet of cultures such as the aborigines or amazonian tribes, is an excellent example to follow if we want to combat the alarming amount of illnesses rampant in our society. The destruction of our environment is the result of us being detached from it’s food system, one which some of these tribes have managed to preserve. If we take a look at native americans, we will learn a lot from their methods of conserving resources for the sake of protecting food biodiversity but also about the sacred relationship they had with the earth. I will leave you with this poem as I believe it describes better than any thing I can write, the nature of a wonderful, sacred and vital relationship we have long forgotten and must urgently and rapidly begin to reclaim if we want to protect the planet, other species we share it with, and our health.
“The Lakota was a true naturist – a lover of nature. He loved the earth and all things of the earth, the attachment growing with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth. Their tepees were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth, and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing”
“This is why the old indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from it’s life giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly : he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer to kinship to other lives about him”
“Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a real and active principle. For the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakotas safe among them and so close did some of the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends that in true brotherhood they spoke a common tongue”
“The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard : he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. So he kept his youth close to it’s softening influence”
“In the indian the spirit of the land is vested : it will be until other men are able to divine and meet it’s rhythm. Men must be born and reborn to belong. Their bodies much be formed of the dust of their forefathers bones”
“The indian, was kin to all living things and he gave to all creatures equal right with himself. Everything of earth was love and reverenced”
About the author
Jwaydan Moyine is a classically trained Film Composer, Pianist, Cellist, Singer/Songwriter, and a Writer and Entrepreneur. She founded Earth Children to bring awareness to matters regarding the Environment, Animal welfare, Sustainable & Conscious living, Wellness & Humanitarian issues. She is heavily involved with activism for animal welfare in the UK and Egypt and child welfare in Syria, Thailand and Romania. She resides in Berkshire Running an organic food farm, an organic skincare company, and an online platform called Vegans & Elephants, bringing awareness to matters regarding the Planet, Plant based nutrition, Cruelty free living & the necessity of adapting to Veganism for the sake of Sustainability, Animal welfare and our Health. She has several qualifications in nutritional therapy, culinary medicine & holistic healing. You can find out more on what she is doing over at the Earth Children Facebook Page!
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