Have you ever thought about how lucky we are to be Hispanic? There is a reason why being Latino, as we are called in the United States, is more readily accepted all over the world. Our music can make even the stiffest person want to move their hips, while our food is an explosion of flavors and our language one of pure seduction. We are a culture bomb - a combination of races, traditions, colors, and shapes: the rich past of our native peoples, with an added European and African contribution. The best of different parts of the world in a cocktail that makes us unique.
A great way to celebrate the month of Hispanic Heritage would be to take control of health issues with the help of our ancestral background. For that, we just have to look at our past, through a scientific lens, to recognize natural gifts that can give us a hand in improving, prospering, and living fully in this Land of Opportunities.
Facts we cannot ignore:
Because our idiosyncrasy sometimes plays against us, Hispanics tend to not know how to handle excesses of food and drink. Latinos have higher rates of heart disease, the leading cause of death for Hispanics, followed by cancer, stroke, and diabetes. These diseases are all linked to the same risk factors of obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor stress management (1). However, Hispanics are also known for our tenacity and knowing when to roll up our sleeves in the good fight against obstacles. Let’s review things we can do to celebrate our month, without risking our health.
Not too much, but not so little.
Celebrate wisely! It is okay to enjoy some traditions, especially those that bring back good memories of our families and make us feel nostalgic and proud of our countries. The key is to make small adjustments so that today's pleasure is not tomorrow’s sorrow. Not just for you, but also for your family and community in general. With a few quick updates to your habits, especially those related to overall health, you will enjoy the very best of our Hispanic traditions!
Celebrate your heritage by making use of tried and tested ancestral gifts.
Improve your quality of sleep and stress management. One of the best aids for achieving this, and used for centuries in Mexico, the southern United States, and the Inca empire, is passionflower. This plant was used by our natives in many ways, but especially as a sedative. Today’s science has proven that passionflower induces sleep, increases the duration of sleep, and helps ensure you receive quality resting time. (2)
Increase your physical activity with ancestral nutrition. From the south, our altiplano ancestors discovered a range of benefits in maca, which today’s science labels a superfood thanks to its various and effectively proven health effects. Maca has been shown to have a nutritional composition (and perfect combination) of starch, dietetic fiber, proteins, minerals, and polyphenols, among other compounds that support reproductive health, generating energy, reduce oxidation, and provide neuronal and digestive system protection, among other benefits. (3)
If you are going to eat at parties or celebrations, do so wisely. You don’t have to stay away from or miss out on those yummy delicacies that remind you of your childhood; just eat in moderation. Try adding vegetables like lettuce and tomato to your plate. Avoid too much meat or sauces. To help control those urges to binge, we have a gift from the Aztecs. They left us many legacies, but one of the most appreciated is nopal, an important source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols. Nowadays, several studies have proven its health benefits, including a reduction in the metabolic consequences of obesity, positively modifying the intestinal microbiota, minimizing inflammation, and helping avoid the absorption of carbohydrates. (4)
Avoid overindulging in alcohol. Part of our tradition seems to include excessive drinking for a good time but remember that most celebrations end in drama or a hospital trip because of it. Moderate yourself and enjoy your celebration without regrets.
Check your heart health. If you haven't seen a doctor, take advantage this month to pay them a visit.
It is definitely worth celebrating and honoring our roots, just as it is reforming some of those traditions to better suit our well-being and the well-being of those we love.
Let's be healthier together.
Your Santo Remedio Team
1.Oficina del Director Adjunto de Comunicaciones, División de Noticias y Medios Digitales de Comunicación (DNEM). Salud de los Hispanos. 5 de mayo de 2015Centro Para El Control de Enfermedades CDC.
2.Fructuoso Ayala Guerrero, Graciela Mexicano Medina. Effect of a medicinal plant (Passiflora incarnata L) on sleep. Sleep Sci. 2017 Jul-Sep; 10(3): 96–100. doi: 10.5935/1984-0063.20170018 PMCID: PMC5699852. PMID: 29410738
3.Sunan Wang, Fan Zhu. Chemical composition and health effects of maca (Lepidium meyenii). Review. Food Chem. 2019 Aug 1;288:422-443. doi: 10.1016j.foodchem.2019.02.071. Epub 2019 Feb 22. PMID: 30902313 DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.02.071
4.Mónica Sánchez-Tapia, Miriam Aguilar-López, Claudia Pérez-Cruz, Edgar Pichardo-Ontiveros, Mei Wang, Sharon M. Donovan, Armando R. Tovar, Nimbe Torres
Nopal (Opuntia ficus indica) protects from metabolic endotoxemia by modifying gut microbiota in obese rats fed high fat/sucrose diet. Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 4716. Published online 2017 Jul 5. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05096-4. PMCID: PMC5498631. PMID: 28680065
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