The Hunza: the oriental tribe of eternal youth
In the north of Pakistan, more than a thousand meters above sea level and between mountains covered by glaciers, live hunzakuts, known as "hunza" in Western countries.
These people not only present an aspect more similar to that of Caucasians than the rest of the inhabitants of the country, but they are attributed something that has been given for hundreds of articles over several decades: the tendency to live more than 110 years and reach old age in very good health .
In addition, the first stories that reached the West about the Hunza suggest that the possible explanation for their good health was not in their biology, but in their habits. The fact that the Hunza maintain a vegetarian diet provided a clue: "we are what we eat". Could it be possible to extend our life so many decades by modifying our behavior?
Hunza: an oasis of youth
The valley of the Hunza River, located in a territory difficult to access and isolated from its surroundings by the high mountains, presents the characteristics that any romantic can relate to Eden. A natural territory and little explored, primitive peoples living in it according to traditions, away from the production machinery and processed foods of technologically advanced societies.
In fact, it is said that the hunza descended from soldiers of the army of Alexander the Great that were lost crossing the territory and created a society isolated from the others; This would explain why the language they speak could not be related to any of the great linguistic families of Asia.
So we have it all: a natural environment with charm, an origin that speaks of Westerners being re-educated to reconcile with nature, a vegetarian diet (and, therefore, more culturally linked to "goodness" than one in which eat meat) and unprecedented levels of health. Or, at least, it would be if it were not for the attribution of an extreme longevity to the Hunza is a myth based on several coincidences.
In fact, none of the beliefs that passed from mouth to mouth and from article to article had a scientific basis: the people of eternal youth was a myth born of exaggerations and misunderstandings .
The exaggerations and myths about this tribe
The tribes that live in the valley of the Hunza River were not free from guilt in popularizing their ability to cling to youth and grow old so slowly. John Clark, a researcher who spent several years living with these people, pointed out that the way in which hunzakuts attribute their age does not have as much to do with the time elapsed since birth as in their level of wisdom. That is why the most respected elders can say that they are 145 years old: in their cultural context, this is totally normal and does not arouse strangeness.
Further, It is also worth remembering that the myth of the Hunza has had an impact on their societies . For several decades, they have been able to take advantage of this myth, which leads them to continue extending the exaggerations themselves.
And what about the diet?
Hunzakuts follow two types of diet: one linked to summer and another related to the winter months. In general, both are basically composed of raw vegetables and some other dairy product. In addition, given the lifestyle they follow, which does not depend too much on the use of advanced technology, even people in years of age maintain habits in which exercise is common. In addition, as they are generally Muslim, they avoid alcoholic beverages and substitute them for tea. .
In short, it is a society in which many of the characteristics of what we would call "healthy life" are given and which, in addition, can attract many followers of the paleodieta. This led some researchers, as Sir Robert McCarrison did in the 1920s, to attribute to hunzakuts a surprisingly good digestive health.
Unlike what happened at the beginning of the 20th century, however, today the state of health of the population of the Hunza river valley is well known, and It has been recognized that Hunzakuts have as many diseases as the rest of the surrounding population . In fact, much is known about their genetics: everything points to the fact that they are not even descendants of Balkan settlers. What a disappointment!
Longevity, put into question
Despite all this, nutritionists point out that many aspects of the Hunzakut diet are better than most Westerners: absence of sugar-rich foods, practically no red meat, many vegetables and, of course, a combination of all this with physical exercise. To take note.