Hardly any heart diseases: Native Americans have the healthiest arteries in the world
Every year millions of people worldwide die from diseases of the cardiovascular system. With the Tsimane, a people living in the Amazon region, such diseases are almost unknown. Her healthy blood vessels are apparently responsible for her diet, a lot of exercise and largely no smoking.
Millions of deaths from cardiovascular diseases
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.5 million deaths are attributed to diseases of the cardiovascular system every year. In Germany, they are the number one cause of death. Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is particularly widespread, which can have dramatic consequences. The most common are heart attacks and strokes. Such diseases are practically unknown to the tsimans. The arteries of these Amazonian natives in Bolivia are healthier than in all other groups of people measured so far, US researchers report.
Smooth blood vessels from 80 year old indigenous people
The people of the Tsimane tribe have the lowest vascular aging of all population groups measured so far. Arterial calcification is five times less common in them than in the United States, reports the specialist magazine “EurekAlert!”.
Scientists led by Professor Hillard Kaplan from the University of New Mexico (USA) found out. According to the researchers, the blood vessels of an 80-year-old native are on average as smooth as those of a mid-fifties from the United States.
Presumably, the diet with little saturated fatty acids, a lot of fiber and an extremely high amount of exercise, as well as largely refraining from smoking are responsible for the good heart health of the indigenous people.
Low risk of heart disease
To arrive at their results, the researchers examined a total of 705 older members of the Tsimane tribe. Computer tomographic images of the arteries were taken as well as measurements of the cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure values.
As the scientists report in the specialist journal "The Lancet", it was found that 85 percent of the 40- to 94-year-old subjects had no risk of heart disease.
A comparison is made in the magazine “EurekAlert!” With an older study, which showed that this rate is only 14 percent among older Americans.
Healthy vessels through healthy eating
It has long been known that a healthy diet promotes healthy vessels. Even among the indigenous Amazon people, nutrition is seen as an essential reason for the good arteries.
Almost three quarters of their diet (72 percent) consists of carbohydrates and fiber - in the form of rice, cassava, plantains, corn, nuts and fruits. In addition, they eat little protein from meat and fish (14 percent) and just as little fat.
Furthermore, smoking is hardly common among them. Last but not least, Tsimane move a lot compared to other groups of people. For example, while sitting in Germany for eleven hours a day is not uncommon, the Amazon residents only rest ten percent of their time of day. The rest of the time they spend hunting, fishing or growing cereals.
Lifestyle changes are emerging
In their study, the researchers also found that over half of the tsimans examined had increased inflammation levels. "According to conventional thinking, inflammation increases the risk of heart disease," said co-author Professor Randall Thompson.
"However, the inflammation common to the Tsimane was not associated with an increased risk of heart disease and could instead be the result of high infection rates."
According to the study authors, however, a change is emerging among the indigenous people. "In the past five years, new roads and the introduction of motorized canoes have dramatically increased access to the nearby market town, where sugar and cooking oil can be bought," said co-author Dr. Ben Trumble.
"This leads to major economic and nutritional changes for the tsimans."
How important natural lifestyle is
"This study suggests that coronary arteriosclerosis could be avoided if people adopt some elements of the Tsimane lifestyle," said study author Dr. Gregory S. Thomas: Keep LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar very low, don't smoke and be physically active.
However, these findings are not really new. "Today's recommendations for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, but also other well-being diseases, target the same lifestyle and risk factors as nutrition, exercise, body weight, which have been shown to be so protective in this study," said nutritionist Hans Hauner from Klinikum Rechts der Isar in Munich in a message from the news agency dpa.
Unfortunately, however, they are still too little known. Everyone has to learn more personal responsibility in this area.
Heribert Schunkert from the Munich Heart Center and Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation also pointed out that it is difficult to get out of the conventions of his or her living environment. Nevertheless: "The study reminds of the importance of natural lifestyle." (Ad)