The Hunza Valley is a pristine mountainous region in northernmost Pakistan. It is rumored to have been the inspiration for Shangri-La in Lost Horizon, a classic novel by James Hilton that depicts Shangri-La as heaven on Earth.
Life in this paradise isn’t what those of us who live in the West might consider easy but it’s most definitely simpler. The people of Hunza live off the rugged land, with a diet consisting mostly of the plants indigenous to the area and cultivated fruits and vegetables; whole grains grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically-modified organisms; and small amounts of meat, cheese, and yogurt.
Produce isn’t cooked through but eaten while still crunchy. The Hunza normally eat two meals a day: a large breakfast at noon and dinner after sunset.
The Hunza (pronounced hoonzah) lifestyle is an active one. Not many desk jobs or cell phones there and the region is totally devoid of disease, violence, and crime. Days are spent tending to daily life: farming, tending animals, cooking, housekeeping, caring for children, taking part in social events and sports. Hunza children are the best educated in Pakistan (1). The Hunzas’ lives are centered on family and the community.
While the unemployment rate amongst Hunzas is very high at roughly 90%, the people of this region are generally happy and content.
Sociologists have observed Hunza culture to find out, well…why?
- The life expectancy of the average Hunza is 120 years. Some have been known to live quite a bit longer than that—up to almost 150. That is absolutely unheard of in any other part of the world.
- Many Hunza women have children well into their 60s. When 60 is middle age, that’s equivalent to our 40.
- Hunza people have adopted a positive attitude, living with nature and without fear. When you are healthy and don’t experience fear and anxiety over the basic necessities of life, there’s not a lot to worry about.
- Fasting is part of Hunza culture. One of their primary food sources is apricots; there are more than 50 varieties that grow in the Valley. It is customary to fast for 2-4 months in the spring, drinking only dried apricot juice until the apricots are harvested in summer. Once ready, every bit of every apricot is eaten from seed to skin. Plenty of them are sun-dried to store for winter. The nutrition of the apricot is impressive, with anti-inflammatory antioxidant carotenoids in beta-carotene (vitamin A), B complex and C vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and fiber. The seed of the apricot is in the pit—Hunza people eat the seed, too (not the hard outer shell). The seeds contain vitamin B17, known to prevent and cure cancer.
- A traditional drink (especially during the time of fasting) is tea made with the medicinal plant tumuru—it smells like oregano. The extract of this deciduous shrub has been found an effective anti-spasmodic and moderator of blood sugar. (1) All parts of the plant are used:“The bark, fruits and seeds are extensively used in indigenous system of medicine as a carminative, stomachic and anthelmintic. The stem has exhibited hypoglycaemic activity in the preliminary trials. The bark is pungent and used to clean teeth. The fruits and seeds are employed as an aromatic tonic in fever and dyspesia. An extract of the fruits is reported to be effective in expelling roundworms. Because of their deodorant, disinfectant and antiseptic properties, the fruits are used in dental troubles, and their lotion for scabies. The essential oil is said to possess antiseptic, disinfectant and deodorant properties.” (2)
- There is virtually no disease in the Hunza Valley.
So if we put all these things together, we can readily see why the Hunza people live so long:
- Practically zero pollution of the air, earth, and water. The water used for cooking, drinking, and bathing is snow run-off from the Himalayas—no fluoride or chlorine. No pesticides or chemicals used in growing natural (not genetically-modified) food. No toxic waste from manufacturing. No harmful chemicals used in the home or on the body. No plastic. No chemtrails up there, either.
- Children are physically active, educated and supported. No video games. They are not vaccinated against anything and they don’t get seriously ill or suffer neurological damage.
- Constant movement and activity is a day-long affair. No television. No cell phones. No sitting on the couch eating potato chips out of a cellophane bag.
- All of life’s basic needs are covered and there’s no need for more.
- Hunza communities are closely knit, with constant social interaction—no depression or feelings of isolation and alienation but support and comfort from family and friends. Socially, there are no violence, no gangs, no weapons under the seat.
- The food they eat is in moderation, taking in only what they need. No obesity. No artificial colors, preservatives, or flavorings. No chemicals at all in their food. No processing that strips the ingredients of their nutrition. No antibiotics or growth hormones in their animal products. No leaching of metals or plastics from packaging. No refined sugar.
The Hunzas’ lifestyle and environment are the polar opposite of those of the West. They live much longer, healthier, and more content. Hmmm…