There are several places in the world where rates of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer are very low. According to Yahoo Health, in addition, many of the inhabitants of these areas have genetic or environmental factors that should put them at higher—not lower—risk for these illnesses.
So what’s their secret for great health?
Studies of places around the world where chronic diseases are rare reveal some surprisingly simple habits that can help you live an unusually long, healthy life.
So what are the secrets of some of the world’s healthiest people?
Copper Canyon, Mexico: Diabetes
Although rates of type 2 diabetes are soaring at an alarming rare in Mexico—and the US—this lifestyle-related disease is almost unknown among the more than 50,000 Tarahumara Indians who live in Copper Canyon. Yet the Tarahumara Indians are close genetic relatives of the Pima Indians of the US, who have the highest rates of type 2 in the world.
Surprisingly, the Tarahumara Indians eat a high-carb diet, but it’s based on unrefined carbs, such as hand-ground tortillas, beans, and corn. This combination of foods appears to lower the glycemic index of the carbs, while herbs and spices in the tribe’s diet—including cinnamon, cloves, parsley, garlic, and mustard greens—also have beneficial effects on blood sugar. In addition, the Tarahumara lead a traditional lifestyle, which includes plenty of exercise, also helping explain their resistance to diabetes, despite genes that predispose them to develop it.
Cameroon, West Africa: Cancer
In the West African village of Ntui, both colon cancer and other bowel disorders are rare. One key reason is that the villagers’ diet is high in fiber and low in meat, the most protective eating plan. A recent study by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research reported that if we ate more fiber—and less red meat—more than 64,000 cases of cancer cases would be prevented each year.
A study of more than 400,000 people linked a high-fiber diet to longer life, as well as reduced risk for fatal cardiovascular disease, infections, and respiratory disorders. The researchers found that fiber from whole grains, such as barley, buckwheat, oats, whole wheat, quinoa, rye, brown or wild rice, and amaranth, was the most beneficial.
Crete: Heart Disease
A landmark 40-year study launched in 1958 found that of the seven European countries studied, men who enjoyed…