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My Grandmother & the Naturopath.

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Renée is a Torres Strait Islander First Nations woman born and raised in Cairns.  While growing up the poor state of health of Indigenous Australians alarmed her, with the premature passing of members of her family becoming more frequent over the years.  Renée came to learn early in life how deadly these conditions could be.  At the age of 8 she experienced the grievous loss of her Grandmother (Aka) due to complications with Type 2 Diabetes.  Her Aka who was only 66 years old, was the centre of her world. 

Renée has many fond memories of time spent with her Aka growing up in FNQ in the early 80’s. Apart from the spoils of Aka’s delicious home cooked traditional foods, they treated on deep fried delights like pies from the pie truck, hot crinkle cut chips, hot chooks, kabanas, chiko rolls and soft drinks.  What was lacking then was the understanding of the vital role  dietary and lifestyle choices play in the management of this disease.  Thankfully we are far more educated now around the management of Type 2 Diabetes. 

Around the year 2000 aged 20, Renee visited a Naturopath to address her own dietary challenges – overweight, hormonal imbalances, acne-prone skin and complaints of food intolerances were among the list of primary complaints.  The Naturopath explained to Renee the importance of reverting back to her traditional Melanesian way of eating and leading a non-sedentary lifestyle.  She explained the digestive and metabolic DNA of Torres Strait Islanders developed over 60 000 years had not yet had time to evolve to counter the damaging effects of the less established, nutrient poor western diet.  The Naturopath advised Renée that following a diet reminiscent of her ancestors, consisting of root vegetables, some seasonal fruits and veg, fish, assorted sea delicacies and everything coconut would assist greatly in remedying her symptoms.   And it did.  After several months of following the Melanesian way of eating, 90% of her primary symptoms were either under control or disappeared completely. 

That would be the last time Renée would visit a Naturopath until 2009 when she began her own studies in Naturopathy with the passing of her Grandmother as her muse. The experience and education had stayed with her all those years as she continued to implement the Naturopath’s wisdom.  Renée wonders how this dietary awareness could have transformed her Aka’s health all those years ago and is now inspired by the possibilities for positive change it could elicit in the health status of First Nations People.


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