Want to have a healthy heart? Then you may want to learn from these indigenous people in Bolivia, who are thought to have the world’s healthiest hearts.
Life has completely changed for those of us who live in the West.
We can suddenly decide we want Thai food for dinner, go to the supermarket and buy coconuts from Malaysia, Green curry paste from Thailand and rice from India. We have the world at our fingertips, quite literally thanks to smartphones and the internet. Diseases such as rabies and cholera that killed us in the past, no longer exist in the West. However, this gift comes with its setbacks. We are known to suffer from what’s called “rich man’s diseases” which includes heart problems, blood pressure, diabetes, and cancers.
A tribe found in Bolivia with a lifestyle and diet completely different to ours are thought to have the world’s healthiest hearts.
The 16,000 tribe is made of the Tsimane people (pronounced chee-may-nay) who were found living on the Maniqui River in the Bolivian lowlands.
Scientists observed that in the tribe in general, there were lower cases of obesity, high blood sugar, and regular smoking. Scientists tested the hearts of 705 members of the tribe and were utterly shocked by the results. These tribe members were all over 40 years old, and from what they found, they concluded that the tribe had the healthiest hearts in the world.
Diet is a big contributor to a healthy heart as well as exercise. The Tsimane eat a diet of wild pig, tapir, capybara, piranha, and catfish. They also eat rice, maize, manioc root, and plantains, which they grow themselves. They also forage for fruit and nuts.
The Scientists also logged how many steps the tribe make to look at how active they are. They found that men on average walked 17,000 steps and women 16,000 steps. They also noted that even the over-60s did over 15,000 steps.
The scientists also tested the hearts of 705 members of the tribe using a CT scanner.
They were looking for coronary artery calcium, which can be a sign of heart disease. Members of the Tsimane tribe, that were aged 45, had little to no coronary artery calcium in their arteries. You can compare these findings to the same age group in America and 25% had this calcium in their arteries.
What the scientists concluded was that exercise and diet both contributed to a healthy heart.
However, they did find that members of the tribe were susceptible to infections, which can cause heart problems.
Whilst these findings are interesting, they aren’t suggesting that we go back to farming and foraging, but has given us some interesting findings on what we should be eating and doing. Scientists at the University of Glasgow concluded that we in the Western world need to be exercising more, incorporating exercise into our daily lives as opposed to something we only do at weekends.
Taking the stairs and not the lift, perhaps consider cycling to work, or getting off the bus a stop earlier to incorporate a walk into work. It also concluded that eating food low in saturated fat, not eating processed food and not smoking can all help with having a healthy heart.
By Holly W.
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