By Cecil G. Helman (Auth.)
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Extra resources for Culture, Health and Illness. An Introduction for Health Professionals
Regular food abstentions are also a feature of Hinduism, and according 5 to Hunt many observant Hindus spend two or three days a week 'fasting'; that is, eating only 'pure' foods such as milk, fruit, nuts, and starchy root vegetables like cassava and potatoes. 34 Diet and nutrition Strict taboos against certain types of food are characteristic of a number of religious faiths: 1. Hinduism. Orthodox Hindus are forbidden to kill or eat any animal, particularly the cow. Milk and its products may be eaten, since they do not involve taking the animal's life.
Another factor, among some Latin American women, is the use of 'hot' or 'cold' foods in pregnancy, irrespective of their nutritional properties, in order to maintain their internal 'balance'. Similar beliefs are found among women from the Indian subcontinent. 31 H o m a n s quotes a British-born Asian woman as saying, 'my mother said not to have "hot" things, not to sit in front of the heater and not to have Coca Cola. . The body acquires too much heat and this can lead to miscarriage'. Beliefs about the state of the uterus during pregnancy can also 33 affect a pregnant woman's health.
Cold foodstuffs included fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits, tomatoes and green vegetables. As one Mexican American woman put it Le da mucha friadad a la 24 The matriz ('Such things make the womb very cold'). researchers point out that avoidance of such foods during the vaginal bleeding associated with menstruation, postabortion or postpartum states can eliminate much-needed vitamins from a diet which, for many low-income women, is already deficient in vitamins. The fear of impeded menstruation may also lead some women to avoid some methods of contraception (oral contraceptives, intrauterine contraceptive devices) that may cause changes in menstruation.