Our society has largely lost the wisdom of generations past. Luckily, many of us with Cuban heritage have had the blessing of hearing stories about life in Cuba from our parents and grandparents. Aside from the fact that the everything was more beautiful (you know, the sky was more blue, the flowers were more brilliant, etc..), there is a lot to be learned from our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ ways — so much, in fact, that it can literally save our lives.
Here are a few pearls we should apply immediately:
1. Grow your own food.
Invest some time and energy in growing some of your own food. Not only is there an incredible sense of accomplishment and wonder in growing your own fruits and veggies, but the quality control is unparalleled. You can ensure that your crops aren’t sprayed with pesticides and you can control the types of seeds and transplants that you sow and grow.
Choose heirloom varieties whenever possible. Whether you’re living on a large plot of land or in a tiny apartment, you can grow some of your own food. Square foot gardening is an incredibly effective method to produce a robust share of food in a small space.
2. Get back in the kitchen.
Nothing beats a home-cooked meal. First off, the intention and love you put into cooking for yourself and your loved ones is incredibly nourishing. Secondly, if you prepare your own food, you can control what goes onto your plate and into your body. You can make more empowered choices and ensure that you are eating a whole foods, organic, non-genetically modified diet. Get that cazuela out and start cooking!
3. Make your own cleaning products.
Get rid of toxic household chemicals and cleaners and scrub your home down with easy-to-make homemade products. It’s time to stock up on some extra limones! Get comfortable using baking soda, vinegar, lemon, castille soap, and essential oils for most of your cleaning needs.
For a general household cleaner and disinfectant mix a couple of drops of castille soap into 2 cups of hot water. Stir in 30 drops of lavender or tea tree oil- both of which have antibacterial properties, and you have a great, all around cleaning product. Pour into a spray bottle and use on all surfaces except for glass.
4. Get some remedios under your belt.
Many of us have been taught, or at least been exposed to, home remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation. Well, there is some serious wisdom in a lot of these teachings! Learn how to combat a cold with garlic. Fight seasonal allergies with nasal saline rinses. Soothe an upset stomach with té de manzanilla.
5. Make some caldo.
Broth was the foundation of most foods a couple of generations ago. Learn how to make your own homemade caldo from scratch and consume it on a daily basis. Make pot full of broth once and week and use it as the base for your weekly cooking. You can use grass-fed animal bones (chicken, beef, or fish) or vegetables for a mineral dense and incredibly nutritive and healing broth.
6. Eat fermented foods.
My grandmother told me stories about how one of her duties was to make fresh yogurt for her family every week. And although it was a small investment of time- I think that it really paid off. She lived to be 103 and science is finally catching up to show that a healthy gut microbiome is incredibly important for health and longevity. Almost 80% of your immune system exists in your gut, which contains about 100 trillion bacteria. Here’s some perspective – you have 10 times more gut bacteria than the number of cells in your whole body!
The gut also houses your body’s second nervous system- you have the same amount of neurotransmitters in your gut as your brain.For optimal immune and nervous system function, you need adequate friendly microflora populating your gut. Consuming fermented foods on a regular basis can help rebalance and repopulate health-promoting bacteria in your gut and redirect your body towards good health.
7. Participate in your community.
People who have close relationships with others and maintain regular social commitments have a 50% lower risk of death than those who live more isolated lives. Researchers have found that “weak” social ties were more harmful to overall health than heavy smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. So, host that monthly domino party, start a knitting circle, or find a group of folks to work-out with. Get connected with others and foster those relationships throughout your life.
8. Spend time in nature.
Go outdoors! Get some vitamin D and give your eyes a break. Vitamin D is a powerhouse in the body- it boosts your immunity and functions in hundreds of processes body wide. And spending time outdoors is great for your over-stimulated eyes.
And finally, let’s not forget the benefits of simply being in nature. Run around the yard with your pets or kids, read a book on a park bench, or take a stroll around your neighborhood. Spend time in natural light and connect with our beautiful planet.
Now I want to hear from you – what pearls of wisdom did your abuelos share with you?