Friday, April 21, 2017
“Heart of the Amazon” was the title of an article found in the April 9, 2017 edition of the New York Times. According to the article, anthropologists have studied over 15 years, a group of subsistence farmers and hunters called the Tsimane. These people reside in Bolivia along a tributary of the Amazon River. These men spend about seven hours a day hunting, fishing, and transporting by canoe to various towns to sell and purchase food. Women on the other hand, gather nuts and farm rice, corn, and plantains. Their work translates by walking, or covering about 8 miles per day or 17,000 steps. Their diet is about 72% carbohydrates-processed starches, 14% from saturated and unsaturated fats and 14% protein. They do have frequent infections and have chronically elevated levels of inflammation. These anthropologist teamed up with cardiologists. Then, these doctors drew blood from 705 men and women between the ages of 40 and 94. Their scans enabled the researchers to score the presence of atherosclerosis which is disease characterized by the buildup of plaque inside one’s cardiac arteries. Employing a zero score meant essentially no detectable disease; 1 to 99, low levels and 400 or greater were classified as being a lot. The findings: 85% scored zero; 3% exceeded 99; and a single person scored higher than 399. By comparison, this group of 705 scored less than 1/5 of the people in the United States and Europe. What can we generalize from this data? Can we conclude that diet had something to do with their healthy arteries? Can we conclude that daily activity had something to do with their healthy arteries? It would seem to me, that genetics, how the subject sample was obtained, the character or personality , BMI index, mortality rate of the subjects were just a few variables not addressed. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time might be another variable to consider. For instance, a young man in his mid-60s, exercises, physically active and eats healthy. However, he served our country in Vietnam. Because of that mistake, in which our military used Agent Orange, our government will pay him in dollars, because he had a diagnosis of cancer. In other words, employing a healthy lifestyle was no contest against being exposed to a lethal dose of a vegetation killer. In essence, because we are mortal beings, I believe it matters more how one lives compared to the length one lives. Quality and well-being is more important than quantity. And, more importantly, do not allow you your thinking to get in your way. Per James Hillman, “the main pathology of later years is our idea of later years.” That idea can be applied over and over again in different ways. PS I don’t know about you, Dr. Hillman, but my Border Collie, Sherry and I are going on an 8 mile trail run today.