Home Science Bolivian Tribe With The 'Healthiest Brains And Hearts Ever Studied'.

Bolivian Tribe With The ‘Healthiest Brains And Hearts Ever Studied’.

Scientists were shocked to see that the Tsimané people of Bolivian Tribe, who lack access to modern treatment, have less brain shrinkage than Westerners.

The key to excellent health might be found deep within the Bolivian Amazon. Researchers revealed that Tsimané tribal members have far better hearts and brains than Westerners.

image credits : Tsimané Health and Life History Project Team

Scientists had suspected that the Tsimané, a group of roughly 16,000 people, was in good condition. According to a 2017 research, they have the healthiest hearts in the world. A research published in 2021 found that the Tsimané not only had better hearts but also stronger minds.

In the year 2021, 746 Tsimané people aged 40 to 94 were studied. The Tsimané, who journeyed from their remote communities to Trinidad, Bolivia, for up to two days, had CT scans done so researchers could examine their brains. Researchers compared the Tsimané brain scans to scans of people from Germany, the United States, and the Netherlands once they got them.

The Tsimané had far better brains than Westerners, according to their findings, which corroborated a 2017 research. When researchers compared the brain volumes of the two groups, they discovered that the change in brain volume between middle and old age in Tsimané brains is 70% lower than in Western brains.

While some brain atrophy is natural, fast atrophy can result in cognitive impairment, functional decline, and dementia.

image credits : Tsimané Health and Life History Project Team

The study’s lead author, Andrei Irimia, an assistant professor of gerontology, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, said, “The Tsimané have provided us with an incredible natural experiment on the potentially detrimental effects of modern lifestyles on our health.”

“These findings imply that the same lifestyle habits linked to a very low risk of heart disease may be able to significantly reduce brain atrophy.”

These most recent findings aren’t entirely unexpected in some respects. The Tsimané people are physically active and rely on agriculture, hunting, and fishing for their livelihood. Vegetables, fish, and lean meat are part of their diet, which is high in fiber. Westerners, on the other hand, are more sedentary and eat more saturated fats.

image credits : RNW.org/Flickr

However, experts were skeptical that the Tsimané people’s healthy lifestyle would transfer to a healthier brain. The tribe eats well and exercises often, but they lack access to modern health care and medicine. As a result, they’re more susceptible to infectious illnesses and chronic inflammation.

Researchers assumed the Tsimané had brains that atrophied fast since inflammation is linked to brain shrinkage. Instead, they discovered the inverse was true.

This is critical, implying that the benefits of cardiovascular health can exceed the negative effects of inflammation. However, the type of inflammation matters as well.

Inflammation in the Tsimané is usually induced by respiratory, gastrointestinal, and parasite diseases, whereas obesity and metabolic factors generate inflammation in Westerners.

Hillard Kaplan, a Chapman University professor of health economics and anthropology who has spent years studying the Tsimané, said, “Our sedentary lifestyle and diet rich in sugars and fats may be speeding up the loss of brain tissue with age and making us more vulnerable to diseases like Alzheimer’s.”

“The Tsimané can be used to establish a healthy brain aging baseline.”

Some experts, however, believe that additional research is required. The Alzheimer’s Association’s senior director of scientific engagement, Rebecca Edelmayer, pointed out that the most recent research of the Tsimané’s brains did not evaluate their memory or cognitive abilities. It also ignored issues like environmental exposure and heredity, both of which might influence brain aging and dementia.

Nonetheless, the study appears to show that eating properly and exercising frequently might contribute to greater health.

“The findings point to a plethora of potential treatments to promote brain health,” Kaplan said. “Even in populations where inflammation is high.”

Researchers in Chicago are working on a clinical experiment to investigate if factors like nutrition and exercise may halt mental deterioration in elderly individuals, a world apart from the Bolivian Amazon. What they see in the Tsimané gives them hope.

According to Shannon Halloway, an assistant professor engaged in the Chicago study, it may not take much for Western nations to reset their behaviors – and thereby enhance their brain health.

“While you’re out walking, chat to your neighbors,” she said. “Prepare a meal for your loved ones. Find things that you like and will continue to participate in.”

Let us know what you think of the Tsimané people’s remarkable health in the comments.

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