In the Amazon rainforests and savannas of northern Bolivia, situated between Peru and Brazil, live an indigenous people called the Tsimane. They are forager-horticulturalists who also rely on hunting for meat in their diet. They were classical hunter-gatherers until about two centuries ago, when missionaries introduced the tribe to agriculture. Today, they still hunt and fish for their protein, and forage fruit and other edibles in the jungle, while subsistence farming adds maize, manioc root (similar to sweet potato), rice, and plantains their diet.
The Tsimane lifestyle differs vastly in comparison to the way populations of developed nations live. Foraging, farming, hunting, and fishing, all require a great deal of time and physical activity. The food they eat is all natural and unprocessed, without anything added. Essentially they live very much like their ancestors did (and by the way much like all human ancestors did before urbanization, industrialization, and modernization). In comparison, modern societies are largely sedentary and our food is highly processed: vital nutrients are removed, while salt, sugar, preservatives, flavorings, color, and other dubious ingredients, artificial or otherwise are added.
In addition to retaining a diet and lifestyle nearly identical to their ancient ancestors, what makes the Tsimane so very interesting is how healthy they are. A study conducted in 2014-2015 arranged CT scans for 705 adult members of the Tsimane tribe over forty years old. The study discovered that the Tsimane have the lowest rate of coronary artery hardening of any group in the world, and dramatically so. Heart attacks are virtually unheard of among the Tsimane.
In contrast, according to the World Health Organization, in these last twenty years the two greatest causes of death in industrialized countries around the world are stroke and coronary artery disease.
Now, a new study has been published demonstrating that the Tsimane do not suffer from brain shrinkage compared to industrialized populations. This research involved 746 adult members of the Tsimane tribe over forty years old. The participants underwent CT scans from which brain volume was calculated and compared to the modern cohort.
The researchers concluded that a healthy brain is associated with a healthy heart, which they associated with a healthy diet and exercise.
The narration of this video leaves something to be desired, but the information is good.
“Bolivia’s Tsimane People have the Healthiest Hearts on the Planet -Subsistence Diet could be the Key” (5:44):
Question Of The Night: What form of exercise do you prefer in order to stay healthy and physically fit?