That was a second time when I heard about longevity phenomenon in Hunza Valley, north Pakistan. First time – a few months ago, in September 2020, while reading the book written by the professor Arnold Ehret “Rational fasting for physical, mental and spiritual rejuvenation” (1). The second time – while scrolling down the pages on the Facebook group “National Geographic Mixed”.
Both sources stated Hunza people live around 150 years, while the co-author of the book stated that giving a birth naturally at the age of 60 is a common thing for Hunza families. Seems like a miracle, right?
Just after some research on internet I realized, the skepticism goes along with the belief in a miracle. Even on the same Facebook group “National Geographic Mixed”, people who commented where or excited and supporting or radically denying the longevity phenomenon.
While arranging this article
While arranging this article, I aimed to look at the place where I have never been with a dose of correctness, but through the eyes of a scientist, an independent researcher.
After some dialog on “National Geographic Mixed”, it was agreed that Mr. Karim (one of the commentator on “National Geographic Mixed”) would provide me an interview via email. It appeared that Mr. Karim was born and spent his childhood in the Hunza Valley and currently runs a leading position in one tourist agency. However, this post is not sponsored anyhow, except the fact that I have got an exclusive interview and images from Mr. Karim. The images, as well as the interview are posted here for you, my reader.
Also, I have read a critical review by Kent R. Rieske, B.Sc, about Hunza Valley (2). It seems the review was based on the personal skepticism towards many aspects of life of Hunza people, including their diet.
Another article “The Optimists Are Right” (3) was written by John Tierney in Sept 29, 1996 who personally traveled to Hunza Valley in 1989 to write about Hunza health secrets. Here the author shows to the reader two sides of the same coin: both an excitement and the facts, leaving a room to a reader to make his/her own conclusions.
No doubts, the book “H U N Z A Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas” (4) by John Clark, 1956, could be considered as the most informative source, written by the author who spent eight months exploring the northern mountain country, including two months spent particularly in the Hunza Valley. The story written on more than 200 pages seems to be worth to read, a serious piece of literature art, I would say, and I am on my way to read it all.
Then I found one more story about Miss Renee Taylor, lecturer and yoga instructor, who has visited Pakistan in 1961. She even made the film about Hunza Valley, with original sound of music and songs from Pakistan (5). It is a documentary-trave-logue which tells the history, customs and habits of the various parts of Pakistan. She also wrote two books: “Hunza Health Secrets” and “How to enjoy the longer life”. Seems to be valuable, isn’t it? A piece of exclusive experience and the key to find the joy of life?, who knows..
How to enjoy the longer life
And here I stopped. How to enjoy the longer life. How? I guess Miss Taylor has approached to the core of the debates more than anyone else. These days people of modern societies, those of civilized countries, have reached the peak of a living comfort. Any king of the past had never even dreamed about the ways how basic and secondary needs could be satisfied, but any common human of our days does.
We, civilized people, still are in a search for “how to live longer” because of a simple reason – we feel unhappy and the idea of some paradisiac places on the Earth makes it easier to withstand personal sufferings.
Here Miss Taylor stands as the most insightful researcher – she looks for the answers “How TO ENJOY the longer life”.
Image of Hunza Valley in autumn
You would agree, lots of people in XXI century really live long life – 70, 80 or 90 years is not something unusual. However, WHERE IS THE JOY? We used to see the old age as a period of suffers and illnesses and therefore trying to grab any info on “where is the paradise on the Earth” for later to deny it all.
One could already be informed that there are places on Earth where longevity is a common thing: Japan, Greece, and Italy… And when we look for the articles about it – the first what we see is A SMILE, a smile of happiness.
So, maybe we should l’earn from the people of Shangri-La (so-called the Garden of Eden) how TO ENJOY THE LIFE instead of How to live longer? To live longer in suffer and pain – is it a goal? Maybe JUST TO LIVE and feel free, happy, satisfied, joyful, peaceful…
Life is not just about food
Because life is not just about food, only the last question of the interview was dedicated to it. Mainly I was interested in looking there, into the Valley, with the eyes of a local guy for the aim to feel the atmosphere without any predeterminations.
The interview with Mr. Karim, a man from Hunza Valley
- What is your origin?
Karim: My origin is from Hunza Valley. I am Brusho (Hunzai) by ethnicity, and I was born and raised among the Hunzai people. I lived in the area until my late teenage years.
Image: Nature of Hunza Valley
Karim: I left to the cities to pursue education. Now, I am spending half of the year with my family, relatives, colleagues or coworkers in Hunza Valley. It means my involvement with people of Hunza has expanded due to my work nature.
- How long have you been in Hunza Valley?
Karim: I was there till late teenage and then I had to move to another city for getting higher education as well as in search of job. However, I am in daily contact with people from there and spend several months per year in Hunza.
- What language do Hunza people speak? How do you communicate?
Karim: Three languages are common Shina (in lower Hunza) by Shinaki (Shina speaking people), Brushashki (in central Hunza & upper Hunza) by Burusho (Brushashki speaking people) and Wakhi (in upper Hunza) by Tajik people. My native language is Brushashki but I also can speak Shina language fluently and I speak some Wakhi. However, all these three languages are verbal, not in written and even we use English alphabets to communicate in the form of SMS or email.
- Do Hunza people spend more time outdoors or indoor?
Karim: For sure, morning till evening they spend more time outdoor because, nearly 70% population works in agriculture and livestock.
Image: an old woman from Hunza Valley carrying a heavy haystack. A kind of regular daily activity and the age does not matter, because of good health
Even those who going to work or schools, once they returning back home, go for outdoor activities. Only elderly or sick people can stay at home due to their conditions.
- What is the routine of a common Hunza person?
Karim: The Hunza Valley is situated in a remote, pristine area of Northern Pakistan, where locals grow their own food and utilize fresh glacier water for drinking and bathing. Cut-off from any nearby cities or commercial hubs, the Hunzai do not consume any processed foods and eat a diet rich in vegetables, milk, grains and fruit, especially apricots.
- Do Hunza people have a good sense of humor?
Karim: The people of Hunza are known for their good sense of Humor. They are also known for their love of music and dance.
- Are there many children around? Does the Valley look like an “elder” valley or “young” valley?
Karim: Certainly, in the valley you can see both type of people (elderly and young). Just for your knowledge, I was leading a Latvian group of 27 people back in 2014 and we were exploring Hunza Valley, I received a question from our guests was “how they can only see elderly people not children like other cities of Pakistan”? My answer was: “You can only see them on weekend but not on week days, because during week days, nearly whole day they are schooling”.
- If compared with our civilized globalized world, how would you describe the material welfare of Hunza people?
Karim: While there is poverty in Pakistan, most people in Hunza have enough wealth to support their daily needs. People often live in shared family homes. Families may split when there are too many people for one household and the family has enough money to build or buy another home. Hunza has a very hospitable culture. That means that there is a tradition of helping people who have less money. Homelessness or extreme poverty is extremely rare in Hunza.
- What is the average height of adult Hunza?
Karim: It is difficult to give an exact number for the average height. Elderly people of Hunza are sometimes quite short due to stunting when they were young and they carried heavy crates of fruit on their backs to cities for selling. Middle age and younger people are probably similar height to the national average of Pakistan (the average height of Pakistani person is 167 cm / 5’5.7″ in, – blog author’s note).
- In general, do the faces look worried or smiling, happy, pacified? Maybe something else?
Karim: No doubt, these people look quite happier than people of any other part of the country. I don’t think, they do care about worries and that’s how the people of Hunza known as the happiest people and strong hospitable people.
- How you would describe the territory of Hunza Valley geographically?
Karim: Hunza Valley is situated in the northern part of Gilgit-Baltistan, autonomous territory, an area under the control of the government of Pakistan. It is mountainous valley bordering with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west and Xinjiang region of China to the north-east.
About the food recipes of Hunza people
I also asked about the food: “Could you share any food recipes from Hunza people?”
And I got a few recipes with the link where to find more, but here is what has wondered me! Usually people wish to describe and share the most tasty food recipes and the open question could reveal the tendency and personal preferences in food.
I have received the recipes of KURUTZHE DOUDO, BAROVE GIYALING and HOILO GARMA.
None of these recipes are sweet! No sugar, even no fruits or dry fruits. It seems that for Mr. Karim, the man from the Hunza Valley, the TASTE of good food is not related to the sweet taste. Therefore, the fact talks without words for me.
Sweet things that bitter
Sweet things, especially processed sugar (common white or brown sugar, cane, demerara, coconut sugar, any other) are known as a powerful stimulants and the triggers.
Common civilized human would feel anxious, depressed, guilty, worried, sad or unworthy just because of daily sugar which twitches the levels of insulin up and down, joggling with the emotions like in a circus and keeping the human hooked like a marionette.
No sugar – no worries. A simple answer why people in the Hunza Valley feel happy from inside.
There is a myth or reality about the longevity of people living in the Hunza Valley. But some things could be stated for sure – people of the Hunza Valley live an active life on a fresh air, consuming the food they grow and harvest by themselves.
Sugar is not common in their diet, and therefore, according to the laws of biochemistry and physiology of a human body, sugar-free food leads to feeling happy and joyful.
Topic to be continued
I wish to continue this topic and to talk more about the food of Hunza people just for the sake to break down some one-sided skepticism around it.
The food itself does not determine longevity, but it could determine the QUALITY OF LIFE, whether it is going to be “happy” or full of “suffer”.
I wish to continue this topic and to talk more about the food of Hunza people just for the sake to break down some one-sided skepticism around it. The food itself does not determine longevity, but it could determine the QUALITY OF LIFE, whether it is going to be “happy” or full of “suffer”.
Also, the abovementioned recipes will be posted in the nearest future on my blog, so, stay tuned! And consume happy food to feel happy too!
- Rational Fasting for physical, Mental and Spiritual Rejuvenation by Prof. Arnold Ehret and his disciples Fred S. Hirsch and Teresa Mitchell, 2013, Ehret Literature Publishing Company
- The Truth, Myths, and Lies About the Health and Diet of the “Long-Lived” People of Hunza, Pakistan, and Hunza Bread and Pie Recipes by Kent R. Rieske, B.Sc. and Bible Life Ministries, available online https://biblelife.org/hunza.htm
- “The Optimists Are Right” by John Tierney, Sept 29, 1996, New York Times Magazine. Available online: https://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/29/magazine/the-optimists-are-right.html
- H U N Z A Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas by JOHN CLARK. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1956. Available online: https://biblelife.org/Hunza%20-%20Lost%20Kingdom%20of%20the%20Himalayas.pdf
- PRINCE HAS PRORI.F.M Author, Lecturer Renee Taylor, Home from Hunza with New Film, UCR, Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Palos Verdes Peninsula News, Volume XXVI, 20 November 1966. Available online: https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=PVPN19661120.2.112&e=——-en–20–1–txt-txIN——–1
If you wish to buy the book Rational Fasting for physical, Mental and Spiritual Rejuvenation by Prof. Arnold Ehret, here is a link:Rational Fasting: Official Ehret Society Edition
The links are at no cost to you, but will earn me a commission if you choose to click them and make a purchase 🙂 Don’t worry – I only ever promote things that have truly helped me.