The Tsimane people live in the Tsimane Council Territory in the lowlands of Bolivia. They are an indigenous group of people who etch a living directly from their natural resources. Specifically, they are hunters, fishermen, gatherers and subsistence farmers. Their diet and lifestyle is particularly of interest to many around the world. This is because civilizations could learn how to prevent heart disease from them. They have been found to be the healthiest community anywhere, where heart-health is concerned. From fish to bananas and manioc, their diet is composed of locally available organic whole foods they gather and cultivate.
The Tsimane have for many years led a solitary lifestyle without employing the comforts of modern living. However, over the last decade, this is slowly changing as more and more people integrate to the mainstream economy while utilizing civilized amenities like electricity and motor transportation. This indigenous community has used its local language to communicate. This is known as the Tsimane language, which is slowly becoming a very isolated language when considering other variants and influences.
The reason why this native community emerged as the most heart-healthy is because of scientific studies that had been conducted since 2002. Expert studies by the Tsimane Health and Life History Project together with the Tsimane Amazonian Panel Study showed that this community does not develop heart disease with age compared to other people in the western world. Other interesting health revelations were also noted where Tsimane women are concerned. Most of the women of the native group were found to be infected with round worms. Owing to this parasite, their fertility was boosted leading to the women delivering more children. An average woman of this group will give birth to atleast 9 children in her lifetime.
The roundworm infection is believed to suppress the immunity to promote fertility. The studies conducted on these indigenous people also showed a slowed rate of epigenetic aging. To this end, the epigenetic clock revealed that despite the people’s high level of inflammation and infection, the link to cardiovascular disease was not there. The inflammation did not promote heart disease. Apart from their healthy hearts, these people also have very interesting cultural practices. For example, they do not have any rituals or formalities to celebrate marriage. In fact, once a man and a woman sleep under the same roof, they are henceforth considered married.
And yes, the Tsimane people enjoy their beer. They make their traditional brew using fermented manioc plantain or corn. They enjoy their drink while sharing stories in social gatherings with friends and family members. The Tsimane have also been noted for their hard work. Their day is usually packed with activity ranging from hunting to fishing and farming. To this end, they spend most of their time on their feet. This has been seen as one way of boosting cardiovascular health.
The west can surely learn a thing or two when looking to lead a healthier life. When it comes to diet, these native people do not take sugar or processed foods. Whole foods provide them with vital nutrients together with fibre. They hunt wild game, eat fish with the incorporation of nuts. This diet could hold the key to heart health.