There are societies and communities that exist on this earth where the average life expectancy is up to 110 to 120 years old at a minimum. To say this is neither an exaggeration nor explaining incidents of isolation: it is a continuous and normal pattern of living for the people of this region. The region and society that we are speaking of is of the People of the Hunza Valley region of the uppermost tip of what we now know of as Pakistan. Perhaps due to extreme isolation of this region, this has placed into the eating patterns and quality of food (which it has), yet there are also other factors that come into consideration when looking at the cultural framework of the Hunza People. Before moving on however it should be noted that at one point up until as recently as the early to middle 1900s’, various cultures in Africa (located in the central to southwestern and southeastern regions) were also known for their extreme healthy stature and long lifespan due to the high intake amounts of fiber rich and high antioxidant micro-nutrient dense foods.
Sadly, as more Western themed meals and methods of cooking became popular on the continent of Africa, this long life expectancy and patterns of virtually illness free communities are now becoming obsolete. The people of the Hunza are being spoken of here of not because they are the only communities to exhibit healthy and wellness based lifestyles in the history of the world, but rather because they have seemed to do it on a consistent basis that has been documented by doctors, scientist and historians for hundreds of years. To keep this pattern up in time when the Food as Medicine approach is mocked as non-scientific and quackery speaks volumes to the term: You are What You Eat and silences the critics who say: food doesn’t matter, because it truly does.
So now that we have a backdrop of what is going on in the isolated region of Pakistan; just exactly what do the People of the Hunza Valley eat and how do they live their lives? You will be surprised that their healthy lifestyles are not just based on food consumption only. In that region, there are no chain grocery stores, most citizens grow their own foods, eat almost no processed foods, no selling of cigarettes, no consumption of alcohol, they don’t watch television for entertainment , attempt to stay active daily and reportedly make it a point to smile as much as they can for no apparent reasons what-so-ever. There have been no documented cases of Cancer (of any type) in the Hunza Valley region: ever.
Specifically here are some of the main lifestyle choices that continue to make the People of the Hunza Valley region Archetypes of Health and Longevity in our time:
- Continuous High Intake of Vitamin B-17 via Apricots (Amygdalin).
You may remember from my previous piece on the importance and impact of Vitamin B-17 and its role on the immune system and cancer prevention; this may have contributed to the overall health of the people of this region. Apricots are such an important part of the Hunza culture that for 2 months out of the year they don’t consume anything except for juice that has been extracted from dried apricots. It is said that the People of the Hunza region consume 200 times more Vitamin B-17 than the average American. Do you think they are on to something?
- Hands on Work from Dawn until Dusk.
Rather than seeing physical labor as an arduous duty they consider it an exercise. This simple shift in awareness regarding physical labor has contributed to their overall strength and personal Vital Life Force. Besides this, on their times off from work, many engage in sports activities as well as go on long walks to stay active and vigorous. It is not uncommon for many women of the Hunza region to give birth at the age of 60 years of age. Yes, I said 60 years of age.
- Glacier Water and Tumuru.
Tumuru tea has been cited with being so healing and health promoting to the immune system as well as target any inflammation that may try to arise in the body, and the Hunzans drink this on a regular basis from waters from natural sources. While we may not always be privy to glacier water here in the West, it is still beneficial to drink natural water as much and as often as possible to flush any impurities that may be left over from the foods we consume.
- Mindfulness Meditation and a Smiling Face.
The people of the Hunza Valley region have long been practitioners of silent and reflective meditation (Muraqabah) and have made it point in their society to not take on stress into their everyday lives. They are fully aware of what stress does to the mind and body and try to be aware of it well ahead of time and to be happy for whatever they have in the time allotted.
And most importantly in addition to all of these items the People of the Hunza Valley do periodic fasting on a regular basis, eat mostly fresh and whole foods that have been unrefined, eat extremely, extremely limited amounts of animal proteins, consume their fruits and vegetables mostly raw which includes: potatoes, string beans, peas, carrots, turnips, squash, spinach, lettuce, pears, apples, cherries, peaches, blackberries and especially apricots. They also consume high amounts of millet, buckwheat and barley which assist the fiber intake from the fruits and vegetables. They also eat very large amounts of: hazelnuts, almonds, beechnuts in raw and pressed oil forms. When you take into account all of these factors, it is no surprise why the people of the Hunza region consistently have more people who live past the age of 100 years of age, than anywhere on Earth.
While we may consider ourselves advanced in the fields of health, we could really take heed and take an example from indigenous cultures who are truly ahead of the curve when it comes to wellness and longevity. If any pattern of this is missing in your personal life, any piece that you add can only be a step for the better and the healthier. May you all be supplied with wellness and vitality, for now and many years to come.
Daud Scott-CHNP; CPT.