Not everyone might have the perfect hearts, but there are people with the ‘healthiest hearts’; Know them 

March 18, 2017, 12:57 pm
Not everyone might have the perfect hearts, but there are people with the ‘healthiest hearts’; Know them 
YOUR HEALTH
YOUR HEALTH
Not everyone might have the perfect hearts, but there are people with the ‘healthiest hearts’; Know them 

Not everyone might have the perfect hearts, but there are people with the ‘healthiest hearts’; Know them 

With the growing craving towards fast food, processed foods and when you prefer high glucose containing sweets over green vegetables or fruits, you might end being obese or the worst be a victim of coronary heart disease. But there are people in the world with the healthiest hearts when compared to people residing in the developed or the developing countries.

The healthiest hearts in the world have been found in the Tsimane people in the forests of Bolivia, say researchers. Barely any Tsimane had signs of clogged up arteries - even well into old age - a study in the Lancet showed.

"It's an incredible population" with radically different diets and ways of living, said the researchers. They admit the rest of the world cannot revert to a hunter-gathering and early farming existence, but said there were lessons for all of us.

Have you ever heard that a tribe called Tsimane exist?

The Tsimané, also known as the Tsimane' or Chimane, are an indigenous people of lowland Bolivia. The average Tsimané woman has nine children in her lifetime. A study of 983 Tsimané women found that 70% were infected with the parasitic roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides, which is believed to have increased their fertility rate by suppressing their immune system, leading to two additional children over the course of a lifetime.

The Tsimane are a Native American group of foragers and horticulturalists who live in the lowlands of Bolivia 
The Tsimane are a Native American group of foragers and horticulturalists who live in the lowlands of Bolivia 

There are around 16,000 Tsimane who hunt, fish and farm on the Maniqui River in the Amazon rainforest in the Bolivian lowlands. Their way of life has similarities to human civilisation thousands of years ago. It took the team of scientists and doctors multiple flights and a canoe journey to get there.

The scientists looked for coronary artery calcium or "CAC" - which is a sign of clogged up blood vessels and risk of a heart attack in them. The scientists scanned 705 people's hearts in a CT scanner after teaming up with a research group scanning mummified bodies. At the age of 45, almost no Tsimane had CAC in their arteries while 25% of Americans do. By the time they reach age 75, two-thirds of Tsimane are CAC-free compared with the overwhelming majority of Americans (80%) having signs of CAC. The researchers have been studying this group for a long time so it is not simply a case of the unhealthy Tsimane dying young. Michael Gurven, a professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Barbara, told the BBC: "It is much lower than in every other population where data exists.

"The closest were Japanese women, but it's still a different ballpark altogether."

Comparison between normal diet and Tsimane diet

-17% of their diet is game including wild pig, tapir and capybara (the world's largest rodent)

-7% is freshwater fish including piranha and catfish

-Most of the rest comes from family farms growing rice, maize, manioc root (like sweet potato) and plantains (similar to banana)

-It is topped up with foraged fruit and nuts

72% of calories come from carbohydrates compared with 52% in the US, 14% from fat compared with 34% in the US, Tsimane also consume much less saturated fat, Both Americans and Tsimane have 14% of calories from protein, but Tsimane have more lean meat.

The women and men are equally healthy 
The women and men are equally healthy 

So why are they so fit?

They are also far more physically active with the men averaging 17,000 steps a day and the women 16,000. Even the over-60s have a step count over 15,000. It makes most people's struggle to get near 10,000 seem deeply insignificant. "They achieve a remarkable dose of exercise," says Dr Gregory Thomas, one of the researchers and from Long Beach Memorial medical centre in California.

They also smoke a lot less, but they do get more infections which could potentially increase the risk of heart problems by causing inflammation in the body.

One idea is that intestinal worms - which dampen immune reactions - could be more common and this may help protect the heart.