The Healthy Roots pilot study started out as a 90-day community challenge: Could members of the Six Nations of the Grand River territory adhere to a diet of traditional foods found in Haudenosaunee territories pre-European contact?
Haudenosaunee Peoples of eastern North America have a strong agricultural tradition and culture associated with maize horticulture, which was disrupted by colonization.
The Six Nations community in southwestern Ontario, Canada decided to formally evaluate the challenge; participants were given biweekly Haudenosaunee food boxes, and offered workshops, cooking classes, and individual support from a dietitian.
Engagement in the program was high, and resulted in reductions in: body weight; body circumferences including waist circumference; hemoglobin A1c; and MRI-detected hepatic fat fraction. The intervention of the Healthy Roots pilot study shows potential to improve physical health and restore cultural connectedness and identity.
The study was supported by the CAHHM study team: PHRI Senior Scientist Sonia Anand and Associate Investigator Russell de Souza.
Results from the Healthy Roots pilot study were published in the International Journal of Indigenous Health, with the compelling title, Entsisewata’karí:teke (You Will Be Healthy Again): Clinical Outcomes of Returning to a Traditional Haudenosaunee Diet. Coauthors include Six Nations Health Services’ Lori Davis Hill, Kelly Gordon, Bonnie Davis, Katie Gasparelli, and Nicole Bilodeau, along with De Souza and Anand.