The Hunzas and their Health Secrets
They call themselves the Hunzas (pronounced Hoonzas) and live in what has come to be known as the roof of the world - the mountain peaks of the Himalayas. The high mountain valley is surrounded by the Himalayan mountains.
As much as the valley is famous for its beauty, the people of Hunza are noted for their friendliness and hospitality. The local language is Brushuski but most people understand Urdu and English. The literacy rate of the Hunza valley is believed to be above 90%, virtually every child of the new generation studies up to at least high school. Many pursue higher studies from prestigious colleges and Universities of Pakistan and abroad.
Dr. Henri Coanda, the Romanian father of fluid dynamics and a Nobel Prize winner at 78 yrs old, spent six decades studying the Hunza water trying to determine what it was in this water that caused such beneficial effects for the body. He discovered that it had a different viscosity and surface tension. Dr. Patrick Flanagan and others continued the research. They found Hunza water had a high alkaline pH and an extraordinary amount of active hydrogen (hydrogen with an extra electron), with a negative Redox Potential and a high colloidal mineral content. The water is living and provides health benefits that other types of drinking water cannot. Similar natural water properties and longevity are found in other remote unpolluted places such as the Shin-Chan areas of China, the Caucasus in Azerbaijan, and in the Andes Mountains.
What kind of exotic, ill-tasting grub do these Hunza people eat, you are wondering. Strange as it may sound, virtually everything the Hunzakut eat is delectable to the western palate, and is readily available in the United States - at least if your shopping horizons do not begin and end at the supermarket.
Not only is the Hunza diet not exotic, but there's really nothing terribly mysterious about its health-promoting qualities, Everything we know about food and health, gathered both from clinical studies and the observation of scientists who have traveled throughout the world observing dietary practices and their relationship to health, tells us that it is to be expected that the Hunza diet will go a long way towards improving the total health of anyone, anywhere. The Hunza story is only on of the more dramatic examples of the miraculous health produced by a diet of fresh, natural unprocessed and unadulterated food.
Maybe you're wondering: are the Hunzas really all that healthy? That was the question on the mind of cardiologists Dr. Paul D. White and Dr. Edward G. Toomey, who made the difficult trip up the mountain paths to Hunza, toting along with them a portable, battery-operated electrocardiograph. In the American Heart Journal for December, 1964, the doctors say they used the equipment to study 25 Hunza men, who were, "on fairly good evidence, between 90 and 110 years old." Blood pressure and cholesterol levels were also tested. He reported that not one of these men showed a single sign of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
An optometrist, Dr. Allen E. Banik, also made the journey to Hunza to see for himself if the people were as healthy as they were reputed to be, and published his report in Hunza Land (Whitehorn Publishing Co., 1960). "It wasn't long before I discovered that everything that I had read about perpetual life and health in this tiny country is true," Dr. Banik declared. "I examined the eyes of some of Hunza's oldest citizens and found them to be perfect."
Beyond more freedom from disease, many observers have been startled by the positive side of Hunza health. Dr. Banik, for example, relates that "many Hunza people are so strong that in the winter they exercise by breaking holes in the ice-covered streams and take a swim down under the ice." Other intrepid visitors who have been there report their amazement at seeing men 80, 90, and 100 years old repairing the always-crumbling rocky roads, and lifting large stones and boulders to repair the retaining walls around their terrace gardens. The oldsters think nothing of playing a competitive game of volleyball in the hot sun against men 50 years their junior, and even take part in wild games of polo that are so violent they would make an ice hockey fan shudder.
Apricots Are Hunza Gold
Of all their organically-grown food, perhaps their favorite, and one of their dietary mainstays, is the apricot. Apricot orchards are seen everywhere in Hunza, and a family's economic stability is measured by the number of trees they have under cultivation. They eat their apricots fresh in season, and dry a great deal more in the sun for eating throughout the long cold winter. They puree the dried apricots and mix them with snow to make ice cream. Like their apricot jam, this ice cream needs no sugar because the apricots are so sweet naturally.
But that is only the beginning. The Hunza cut the pits from the fruits, crack them, and remove the almond-like nuts. The women hand grind these kernels with stone mortars, then squeeze the meal between a hand stone and a flat rock to express the oil. The oil is used in cooking, for fuel, as a salad dressing on fresh garden greens, and even as a facial lotion ( Renee Taylor says Hunza women have beautiful complexions).
Besides apricots, the Hunzakut also grow and enjoy apples, pears, peaches, mulberries, black and red cherries, and grapes. From these fruits, the Hunzakut get all the vitamin C they need, as well as the other nutritional richness of fresh fruit, including energy from the fruit sugars. From the grapes, they also make a light red wine that helps make their simple fare into more of a real "meal". Observe the apricots drying in the sun in the photo to the left.
Hunza Chapatti Bread typically is made fresh each day from stone ground grains, primarily, wheat, barley, buckwheat and millet. These delicious flat unleavened breads are an important part of a nutritious diet of grains, fruits, dried fruits, and veggies. They drink substantial amounts of "Glacial Milk" which is milky colored water fresh melted from base of glaciers, rich in rock flour and minerals.
Another great Hunza health secret concerns the considerable amount of time each day devoted to physical exercise. Most exercise is done outdoors in order to take advantage of the pure mountain air, which in itself has a beneficial effect on health. Although a large part of their day is spent outdoors, working the fields, the Hunzakut do a lot more than that. For one thing, they take regular walks and a 15 or 20 kilometer hike is considered quite normal. Of course they don’t walk that distance every day, but doing so does not require any special effort.
You should also keep in mind that hiking along mountain trails is a lot more demanding than walking over flat terrain.Of course we’re not suggesting that you move to the mountains and become a farmer to stay fit and add years to your life! You don’t have to change your way of life completely in order to stay healthy and live longer. But one thing the Hunza life-style does prove is that exercise is very important for health and longevity. Walking for an hour each day, something most people can manage, is excellent for both your body and your mind. In fact, walking is the simplest, least costly and most accessible form of exercise there is. And contrary to what you may think, it also provides you with a complete workout. So get in step with the Hunzakut and start walking!
It is believed that among the Hunza people centenarians are a common occurrence, and that it is not unusual for elderly persons that are so extremely healthy.
These people are not the product of legend, nor is the country they inhabit a Mythical Utopia.
It is said that this tiny group of people, residing in an inaccessible valley about 3000 meters (9000 feet) above sea level, are more or less completely cut off from the outside world. It is also said that they are the happiest people on earth..
There is some beautiful pure Wisdom here to become Aware of and share with all our Sisters and Brothers.. Healthy food for Sisterhood!
Books to read about the Hunzas & health: