Saturday, 13 April 2013
What We Can Learn from the Hunzas
The Hunzas are a race of people 30, 000 in number who live in a valley in north-east Pakistan surrounded by the Himalayas. The valley they live in is at 3000 meters (9000 feet) above sea level, and for centuries was cut off from the rest of civilization. The Hunzas are said to be the healthiest people on the planet. They rarely get ill, and they have the highest number of centenarians amongst a group of people anywhere in the world; quite a few of them live to be 130, and some of them even live to be 145 years of age.
Because of their unique geographical location, the Hunzas were isolated from the rest of the world for a long time and consequently developed life practices peculiar to them which have had a big influence on their health and longevity. They pay particular attention to diet, exercise and meditation. Here is a list of the many things they do which have a bearing on their good health:
1. They do not eat vast quantities of food; just two meals per day satisfies them. They eat primarily for the establishment and maintenance of health rather than for pleasure.
2. Hunza food is completely natural containing no additives or chemicals whatsoever.
3. A large part of their diet is contained of grains in the form of barley, millet, buckwheat and wheat.
4. Even though they are not vegetarians, they only eat meat once or twice per week. When they do eat meat, it is usually chicken.
5. They eat fruits and vegetables which are organically grown in their own gardens. For the most part, these are consumed fresh and raw, though they do cook some vegetables for a short time.
6. Milk and cheese are important sources of animal protein.
7. Yogurt is also a staple part of the Hunza diet.
8. Nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and beechnuts are also an important source of protein. Nuts when combined with vegetables sometimes constitute a whole meal.
9. They eat a special bread called “chapatti”, which is eaten along with every meal. The bread is made from wheat, millet, buckwheat or barley flour which is whole and is not refined in any way.
10.They fast one day a week in which their low intake of food is cut down to the minimum eating just a few nuts, drinking some milk and eating low-fat yogurt to sustain them.
11. The men do strenuous work in the fields getting plenty of fresh mountain air and adequate daily exercise. The women mostly tend the vegetables and fruit trees in their gardens. Nearly all Hunzas go on a walk of 15 kilometers (10 miles) once a week.
12. They find time several times a day to engage in some basic yoga relaxation techniques involving deep breathing which relaxes and removes tension from the whole body.
Whilst we cannot replicate the unique geographical location occupied by the Hunzas in our own locations, we can learn the following from what they do:
· Only eat cereals derived from whole grains, which have most of their nutrients and fibre intact.
· Try and get a sizeable portion of the protein you require daily from organic vegetables and fruits.
· Eat low-fat yogurt on a regular basis.
· Make brown whole-grain bread a standard part of the diet.
· Try and derive a certain amount of protein from nuts.
· Cut down on protein from meat to no more than twice a week.
· Get most of your animal protein from milk and cheese.
· Fast for one day a week drinking only unsweetened fruit juices and eating low –fat yogurts.
· Take regular exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming etc. for at least 40 minutes per day.
· Engage in a relaxation technique, such as yoga, several times per day.
Whilst I cannot guarantee that you will live to be 145 if you employ the above recommendations, you do stand a much better chance of beating the national average age for death in western countries if you adhere to them, while also enjoying a much better quality of life.