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Healthiest Hearts In World Found In Amazon Rainforest

The BBC has found that the Tsimane of Bolivia have the healthiest hearts on the planet. Is it any surprise that they are sustaining themselves on a diet that is the antithesis of the standard Western diet? The Tsimane live in the Amazon rainforest and are not far removed from a hunter-gatherer existence. Their diet is obtained entirely from hunting, fishing and subsistence farming. 

It was not easy for scientists to locate this elusive people but this great distance has allowed them to maintain the same traditions for thousands of years. There is one big advantage to being so far removed from modernity: Their diets are not awash in processed foods and CAFO meats. This is one reason that their cardiovascular health is the best on the planet.

Closer examination reveals that diet may not be the primary reason they have such healthy hearts. In fact, they consume more carbohydrates than is ideal and would benefit from a fat-based diet. Instead, their secret may be their level of physical fitness. Tsimane adults do not spend their days basking in the glow of electronic devices while living a sedentary lifestyle. Instead, they are physically active and average over 16,000 steps a day.

The benefits are astounding. None of the middle-aged adults tested showed risk factors for heart disease. This pattern held true even for when they reached 75 years of age.  Considering that they get 72 percent of their calories from carbs, which is far from ideal, this study makes an extremely strong case for the benefits of an active lifestyle. It emphasizes the negative impact of processed foods, which are entirely absent from their diet.

So what lessons are to be learned from the Tsimane people? The first is that vigorous exercise at the gym cannot counteract the harm incurred during the hours you’re sitting still. Six hours of uninterrupted sitting effectively counteracted the positive health benefits of a whole hour of exercise. 

You need both intense exercise and daily intermittent movement in order to optimize your health and prolong your life. It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other. You really do need both.