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Multicultural nutrition

Recently I observed a woman with two young boys – one in a stroller the other older.  They were beautiful children and appeared to be her sons.  The woman was white and the boys very dark skinned with deep brown eyes and black wavy hair. 

This made me think about the wave of multiculturalism that has opened up through international adoption opportunities.  People unable to have their own children or seeking to give good homes to those who would otherwise not be able to enjoy a safe upbringing, are adopting from all different cultures.

Ever focussed on health, I realised that many people may not realise that different cultures have different metabolisms – that is, their body treats certain foods differently to the white person of general European descent.  These differences should be made known to parents when adopting or taking on responsibility for children from other cultures.

For example, supplementing with Vitamin C may actually cause health issues in many indigenous cultures including Australian Aborigines, African natives and Asians.  The darker skinned cultures, Africans and Australian Aborigines, often do not metabolise processed sugar or alcohol very efficiently.  In adults this often leads to severe alcohol-related aggression and extreme intoxication.  Children who are fed the traditional Western diet which is high in sugars, may be more likely to develop obesity and diabetes with the associated cardiovascular issues.

The impact of a Western diet becomes very obvious when Asian relocate to the USA.  Their health to that point was good.  Within a few years, the adults’ health begins to deteriorate.  The second generation exhibits obese symptoms with the third generation developing cancer.  The impact of our environment, and the foods we eat, on our genetic expression is known as epigenetics.  Fortunately, any detrimental changes to our genetic expression can also be reversed.

It is important to have a good understanding of the traditional ethnic foods, as well as lifestyles of other cultures that may be brought into your family.  Our bodies adapt very slowly to environmental and dietary changes.  Being aware of the differences in metabolic processes and respecting these differences will ensure that your children grow into strong, healthy adults.

For advice and guidance in general health and nutrition, contact Dagmar on 07 5530 1863.