At an elevation of around 2500 meters above the sea level and the place between the borders of Kashmir, Russia, China and Pakistan, there lies a valley that is 1.6 kilometres wide, 160 kilometres long, giving home to a population of 30,000 known as the Hunza (pronounced as hoonsa) people or the Hunzakuts, also known as the Burusho. The valley is said to be completely cut-off from the rest of the world and is in the present day North Pakistan. The people of the Hunza valley are very well known for their long life that they live healthily up to 145 years.
While, many nutrition experts and scientists have ascribed this long enduring ability of the Hunza people to their diet, and lifestyle, there are a few sources that claim Hunza is not so a special class of people, but only like everyone else on the planet.The Hunza people could be the descendants of Macedonians, as when Alexander the Great conquered Persia, he was betrayed by three of his generals, who sneaked away and found asylum in Hunza. It is said that when they reached Hunza, the area was already but sparsely inhabited by few people. There is a speculation that most of the inhabitants were murdered by the Macedonians. Hunza became an independent monarchic state.
The pathway to Hunza is a dangerous one, and the pass that connects Gilgit, Pakistan to Hunza is 4176 meters high. This kept the Hunza community away from the rest of the world.
Sir Robert McCarrison, an Irish physician, was the first one to study the Hunza community in the 1920s when he conducted experiments about the correlation between the diet and lifespan of the people. These people were found to be devoid of any common diseases like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, blood pressure abnormalities, asthma, flu, etc. They lived happily more than 100 years, which is not considered senile in the Hunza society. McCarrison found that the diet played a prominent role in the healthy living conditions.He fed 1189 albino rats the diet of the Hunza people and found that the rats were healthy and lived happily in the days after. The rats were killed 27 months after being fed with the Hunza diet and studied to find no signs of pathology in their blood or body. The rats that were fed a different diet suffered from various infections and diseases.
Living up to an age of 130 years is normal and up to 100 years is young in the Hunza society.
The diet of the Hunza people is mostly organic vegetables and fruits with little meat consumed once in a week. The glacier water is rich in minerals that kept the people hale and hearty. Not just the diet, it is also the lifestyle of the Hunza that keeps them rejuvenated with time. Walking 10 to 20 kilometres in the steep hills is considered a normal exercise.
Now, a little flip side of the Hunza history. While they are venerated as the longest living human beings on Earth, a few claim that the status of Hunza people are exaggerated and are very far from what is true. They are just like any other people on the planet.
The critics of the Hunza longevity claim that the Hunza society has always been a poor one with no abundance of resources, due to no enough space and soil. According to Dr. John Clark, there has always been a shortage of food supply and the calorie intake of the people was low, and they had to work hard in the hills to produce enough food. Thus, poor intake of food and labour made them look healthy by not being obese and prevented any form of diseases.
Dr. Clark writes that he has come across many Hunza people with a lot of ailments like dysentery, malaria, etc. and he claims that he treated nearly 5684 patients in his first visit to Hunza.
It is said that once the occupation of the Hunza people was robbery, plundering the merchants travelling across borders. One of the King’s son convinced his father to give up the brutal way of living, and a peace treaty was signed with the neighbouring states.
Moreover, he adds that there is no calendar system followed by the Hunza community, and thus they attribute age not by the solar calendar, but with the amount of wisdom a person possesses. Thus, the ages mentioned by the Hunza people are not their true age but mere exaggerations. They also have high regards about their society, as they once were a warrior society that turned into a peaceful one.
Thus, there are two sides to the Hunza history. One cannot refuse the fact that the polluted air and water in our modern day cities are no better than the pristine water and air at nature’s lap. No matter, if they are long living super humans, they are truly gifted to be closely associated with nature.
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