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Diversity urged in dietary guidelines

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University Native American Studies Professor Martin Reinhardt and his Decolonizing Diet Project are referenced in an article by Civil Eats, a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system.

The article asserts that recent recommendations from an advisory committee that will help shape the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t reflect the nation’s growing diversity, or the particular health and dietary risks faced by communities of color.

The Decolonizing Diet Project explored the relationship between humans and Indigenous foods of the Great Lakes Region. From March 2012-March 2013, Reinhardt and research subjects ate foods that grew or could be hunted in the region before Europeans came to the Americas. These included wild rice, cranberries, corn, squash, maple syrup, venison and fish.

Reinhardt found that traditional foods can significantly improve the health of Native American people who have been battered by diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

The Decolonizing Diet led to weight loss, a decrease in “bad cholesterol” and triglycerides, and lowered blood glucose levels, as well as raised vitamin levels.

“It proved that eating Indigenous foods could achieve great health outcomes, which our community badly needs,” Reinhardt said in the article. “These foods are something we’ve had for thousands of years. They were our relatives. They sustained our ancestors and helped them thrive.”

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