Secret to Heart Disease Prevention May be Found in Amazon Tribe

Indigenous Bolivians have some of the healthiest hearts

In a new report, researchers studied an indigenous group of hunter-gatherers that live in South America and found that their risk for coronary atherosclerosis- hardening of the arteries-is five times less common compared to adults living in the United States. Almost three-fourths of what they eat are non-processed carbohydrates, such as rice, plantains, corn, nuts and fruits, and their protein comes from lean wild game and fish.

These results suggest that urbanization could be considered a risk factor for hardening of the arteries, as modern people leave behind lives of struggle for a more cushy existence, he said. About 13 percent of those who were scanned also had low risk while only 3 percent had moderate and high risk.

When the sun rises, Tsimane people begin a hard day of physically demanding activities, such as hunting and gathering until the sun sets. The lifestyle values farming with both the men and women spending hours cultivating grains, corn, and fruits. "We don't want to look to the Tsimane and say this is how all people should live". "There's a tendency to blame your genes for heart problems, and what this study shows us is that you can't blame your parents, just your lifestyle". As expected, diet and exercise are believed to be responsible for the populations incredible heart health well into old age.

His team visited 85 Tsimane villages over the course of 11 years, and analysed heart disease risk using CT X-ray scans. The Tsimane also have lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels than most other groups.

Researchers studied the hearts of 705 adults between the ages of 40 and 94 from 2014 and 2015. The results of the research have upended long-held assumptions of the aging process and what it does to the heart.

The scans showed that nearly nine in 10 of the Tsimane (85 percent) had no risk of heart disease because they had no arterial plaques. The US group showed the opposite with only 14 percent exhibiting no danger of heart disease.

While the authors admit that Americans won't be lacing up their Nikes to go hunting anytime soon, they do think there are practical lessons we can take away from the Tsimane. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-Americans, Hispanics and whites.

So, what does all of this mean? Higher amounts of calcium are associated with greater hardening of the arteries, and therefore a greater risk of heart disease, according to the study.

Indeed, lifestyle factors - such as an unhealthy diet, smoking and high levels of inactivity, all of which the Tsimane largely avoid - may account for more than 90 percent of a person's risk of developing heart disease, according to the study.

Hardening of the arteries, known as coronary atherosclerosis, which leads to coronary heart disease and angina is FIVE TIMES less common than in the USA, according to the research published in The Lancet. In other words, Americans rack up as much damage to their arteries in 50 years as the Tsimane do in 80. The smallest changes today can lead to a healthier tomorrow. These healthy heart hacks include simple things like adding fiber-rich carbohydrates and non-farmed fish, as well as remaining active as you age.

Related News: