The life expectancy of the average Westerner is about 70 years. The life expectancy of the average Hunza falls onto a different scale altogether – these people reach both physical and intellectual maturity at the venerable age of one hundred! This fact emphasizes the relative nature of what we refer to as normal.
As we’ll see a little later on, the way we are conditioned to perceive aging has a determining effect on the way we develop.
At one hundred years old, a Hunza is considered neither old nor even elderly. Even more extraordinary is the fact that Hunzas remain surprisingly youthful in all ways, no matter what their chronological age is.
According to a number of sources, it is not uncommon for 90 year old Hunza men to father children. Hunza women of 80 or more look no older than a western woman of 40 – and not only any woman, but one who is in excellent shape.
They also force us to ask the following question: is there some secret technique that allows these people to live so long, and stay so healthy? The answer is yes – the Hunzas do know something we don’t. But there isn’t just one secret, there are many.
The first, and certainly the most important of these secrets concerns nutrition. Interestingly enough, the Hunza approach resembles that outlined by Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, who lived over 2000 years ago in ancient Greece. The basic precept of their common notion of what constitutes a proper diet is simple: the food you eat is your best medicine.
There’s a modern saying, coined in the sixties: ‘You are what you eat.’
So what do the Hunzas eat?
Well, the basis of the Hunza diet, which to a large extent is dictated by the rather harsh climatic and geographical conditions of their home country, can be summed up in one word: frugality.
Hunzas eat only two meals a day. The first meal is served at twelve noon, although the Hunzas are up every morning at five a.m. This may sound surprising, since most nutrition experts here in the west stress the importance of a hearty breakfast, even though our life-style is relatively sedentary compared to that of the Hunzas, who engage in demanding physical labor all morning long on an empty stomach.
Unlike most Westerners, Hunzas eat primarily for the establishment and maintenance of health rather than for pleasure, although they are very meticulous when preparing their food, which, by the way, happens to be delicious.
In addition, Hunza food is completely natural, containing no chemical additives whatsoever. Unfortunately, that is not the case as far as most of our food is concerned. Everything is as fresh as it can possibly be, and in its original unsalted state. The only “processing” consists of drying some fresh fruits in the the sun, and making butter and cheese out of milk. No chemicals or artificial fertilizers are used in their gardens. In fact, it is against the law of Hunza to spray gardens with pesticides. Renee Taylor, in her book Hunza health secrets ( Prentice-Hall 1964) says that the Mir,or ruler of Hunza, was recently instructed by Pakistani authorities to spray the orchards of Hunza with pesticide, to protect them from an expected invasion of insects. But the Hunzas would have none of it. They refused to use the toxic pesticide, and instead sprayed their trees with a mixture of water and ashes, which adequately protected the trees without poisoning the fruit and the entire environment. In a word, the Hunzas eat as they live – organically.