Category: DEI

Hispanic Heritage Month: Importance of Family and Food

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hispanic heritage month

Latin, Spanish and Hispanic cultures are renowned for their rich traditions, vibrant celebrations, and deep sense of community. Among the core elements that define these cultures, two stand out as paramount: family and food. In this article, we will explore the profound significance of family and food in Hispanic cultures and how they intertwine to create a unique and cherished way of life.

Family: The Foundation of Life

In Latin and Spanish cultures, family is more than just a group of relatives; it is the cornerstone of one’s identity and support system. Families are known to be close-knit, often spanning multiple generations, and offering unwavering support in both good times and bad. The importance of family is embedded in the very essence of these cultures and permeates every aspect of life.

Familismo is a cultural concept deeply ingrained in Latin and Spanish societies. It emphasizes the central role of the family in an individual’s life. Family members are expected to prioritize their immediate and extended families above all else, and this value fosters strong bonds that endure throughout generations.

Celebrating Milestones Together

Family gatherings are frequent and filled with warmth and love. From birthdays to weddings to religious ceremonies, every significant milestone is an opportunity for family members to come together, celebrate, and reinforce their connections. These gatherings are characterized by laughter, lively conversation, and, of course, delicious food.

Food plays a pivotal role in Latin, Spanish and Hispanic cultures, transcending mere sustenance to become a form of expression, tradition, and connection. The cuisine of these regions is diverse, flavorful, and steeped in history.

Traditional Dishes: A Taste of Heritage

Each Latin American and Spanish region boasts a unique array of traditional dishes. From paella in Spain to beans and rice in Mexico, these dishes are a celebration of cultural identity and heritage. Preparing these recipes often involves passed-down family secrets and techniques, preserving a sense of continuity.

And meals are not just about nourishment; they are a means of bringing family members together. Whether it’s a casual weekend barbecue or an elaborate holiday feast, sharing meals is a cherished bonding ritual. It’s a time when stories are shared, traditions are passed on, and familial ties are strengthened.

Along with family gatherings, festivals have become a large part of tradition with food being at the center. Hispanic cultures are known for their vibrant festivals, and food is an integral part of these celebrations. From Dia de los Muertos in Mexico to La Tomatina in Spain, festivals often feature traditional dishes that showcase the unique flavors of each region.

Cultural Identity in Food

The bond between family and food in Latin and Spanish cultures is undeniable. These two elements intersect in myriad ways, reinforcing the importance of both. For many, preparing traditional dishes is an act of love and devotion to family. The effort and care put into cooking are tangible expressions of affection. Grandmothers, in particular, are often revered for their culinary skills, passing down recipes through generations.

Family recipes are a means of preserving tradition and cultural identity. They carry with them the stories of ancestors and the flavors of home. Teaching the next generation to prepare these dishes is a way of ensuring that the culture lives on. Family gatherings, centered around food, provide opportunities for reconnecting and strengthening familial bonds. These gatherings are essential moments for storytelling, laughter, and the sharing of life’s joys and sorrows.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are highlighting the love, nourishment and importance that family and food provide and enrich the lives of those who embrace these cultural values. As we celebrate these enduring traditions, let us recognize and appreciate the importance of family and food in Latin and Spanish cultures, and perhaps, in our own lives as well. After all, there is nothing quite like the warmth of a family’s embrace and the taste of a well-prepared family recipe to bring joy and meaning to our lives.

International Women’s Day

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international womens day at MUIH

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day—March 8th—a day celebrating the vast achievements of women across the globe. There are several ways to get involved in 2022, both in person and virtually. In honor of both International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, the DEI Committee encourages you to get involved by participating in events or taking time to engage with unfamiliar content. Here are just a few ways to do so:

March is Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a time when we celebrate the progress forged by countless women whose courage and sacrifices have contributed to the fight for securing equal rights, equal treatment, and equal opportunity for all women. This month, Maryland University of Integrative Health honors the extraordinary women from every country who are leading us to a better world for future generations of womenWomen who have fought for equality and against the status quo, and who have broken the bonds of discrimination, partiality, and injustice for the benefit of all. These women created a legacy that continues to inspire generations of women to live with confidence, to have a positive impact on their communities, and to improve our world every single day.

The theme for 2022 is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” an appropriate them to honor the lives of women that have impacted our history such as Margaret Chung, the first American-born Chinese woman doctor, civil rights leader Vel Phillips from Wisconsin, and Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first American Indian woman doctor. We hope you will take the opportunity during this month to explore some of the remarkable contributions made to our world by women.

The DEI Committee also brings you the March 2022 Calendar of Observances to highlight observances this month. The attached document provides a list of some observances along with a brief description and a link to further information on the observance noted. The calendar may also be accessed through our website.

Interested in More Student Activities at MUIH?

Whether you take your classes online or in-person, we cherish your presence and participation within our MUIH community. We offer many ways to engage with our community and we welcome you to get involved! Enrich your student experience – join us! Learn more about the activities we have on campus and virtual. And check out our Student Affairs resources to make the best of your student life here at MUIH!

Integrative Health Resources in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

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This month we are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. The MUIH team would like to highlight ways integrative health is impacting the community.Below are articles related to herbal medicine, nutrition, and health and wellness coaching. Thanks to Herbal Product Design and Manufacture Student and Yoga Therapy Alumna Monce Boston, MS, C-IAYT for putting this research together for our community.

A Systematic Review of the Prevalence of Herb Usage Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities in the United States:

“The reasons for herb usage were perse but fell into: treatment for an ailment, overall health promotion, personal belief, attitudes about medications, or familial usage.”

Gardiner, P., Whelan, J., White, L. F., Filippelli, A. C., Bharmal, N., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2013). A systematic review of the prevalence of herb usage among racial/ethnic minorities in the United States. Journal of immigrant and minority health, 15(4), 817–828. A Systematic Review of the Prevalence of Herb Usage Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities in the United States.

The Use of Herbal Medicine by Older Mexican Americans:

“Chamomile and mint were the two most commonly used herbs. Users of herbal medicines were more likely to be women, born in Mexico, over age 75, living alone, and experiencing some financial strain. Having arthritis, urinary incontinence, asthma, and hip fracture were also associated with an elevated use of herbal medicines, whereas heart attacks were not.”

Loera, J. A., Black, S. A., Markides, K. S., Espino, D. V., & Goodwin, J. S. (2001). The use of herbal medicine by older Mexican Americans. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 56(11), M714–M718. Use of Herbal Medicine by Older Mexican Americans | The Journals of Gerontology: Series A | Oxford Academic (

Food-group and nutrient-density intakes by Hispanic and Latino backgrounds in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos:

“The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos is a population-based cohort study… Variations in diet noted in this study, with additional analysis, may help explain diet-related differences in health outcomes observed in Hispanics and Latinos.”

Siega-Riz, A. M., Sotres-Alvarez, D., Ayala, G. X., Ginsberg, M., Himes, J. H., Liu, K., Loria, C. M., Mossavar-Rahmani, Y., Rock, C. L., Rodriguez, B., Gellman, M. D., & Van Horn, L. (2014). Food-group and nutrient-density intakes by Hispanic and Latino backgrounds in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 99(6), 1487–1498. Food-group and nutrient-density intakes by Hispanic and Latino backgrounds in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. – Abstract – Europe PMC

Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2002–2012:

“Although the use of inpidual approaches varied across the three time points, nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements remained the most popular complementary health approach used. The use of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong increased linearly across the three time points; among these three approaches, yoga accounted for approximately 80% of the prevalence. The use of any complementary health approach also differed by selected sociodemographic characteristics. The most notable observed differences in use were by age and Hispanic or Latino origin and race.”

Clarke, T. C., Black, L. I., Stussman, B. J., Barnes, P. M., & Nahin, R. L. (2015). Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002-2012. National health statistics reports, (79), 1–16. Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults.

Health Coaching for the Underserved:

“This case report illustrates how the motivational power of coaching conversations was a modestly useful methodology in breaking through the social isolation and loneliness of street-dwelling adults with chronic health problems. It also was a useful methodology for developing capacity for accomplishing short-term goals that were self-identified. Additionally, health coaching presented an opportunity for transitioning poverty-level inpiduals from passive recipients using public health sector services to more empowered actors with first-stage awareness who initiated preventive health actions.”

Jordan,M. (2013). Health coaching for the underserved. Global advances in health and medicine, 2(3), 75–82. Health Coaching for the Underserved – PMC (