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The Hunza Valley: The Original Shangri La?

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Updated February 20, 2007

Who are the Hunza People?:

In the early 70s, National Geographic ran an extensive series of articles investigating claims of long-lived people around the world. The Hunza People, who live in the North of Pakistan were one of those peoples. The Hunza and the valley in which they live was famous in the region. The Hunza Valley is a high altitude, fertile valley that supports agriculture and provides isolation from the rest of the world. Some say that the Hunza Valley was the basis for Shangri La in the book Lost Horizons.

How Long Did They Live?:

No one really knows. Physicians examined the Hunza and made their best guesses to how old they people were. Without focusing too much on documented maximum age, the truly extraordinary fact is that all reports from the Hunza mention that the elderly population is fit, full of vitality and virtually free from disease.

How Did They Keep Free from Illness?:

In short, exercise. The mountains that the Hunza live in are extremely rough terrain and the Hunza people spend their lives moving among the rough passages and steep ridges. They are said to be more hardy than even the famous Sherpa people of the Himalayan region.

What About Their Diet?:

Mostly plants, eaten raw. The Hunza do not have access to a large amount of fuel for cooking food, nor are there many animals available for eating, so they plant what they can and gather the rest. Apricots, cherries, grapes, plums and peaches are all cultivated by the Hunza. They also eat a lot of grains -- wheat, barley, and millet.

But Were They Happy?:

Absolutely. In fact, they have been called by some researchers "The Happiest People on Earth". The Hunza have a certain relish and passion for life -- perhaps brought on to some extent by their daily rigorous exercise and simply lifestyle.

What Can We Learn from the Hunza?:

Three things:

  • eat raw fruits and vegetables
  • exercise daily
  • have a positive outlook

source: Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

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