Introducing the Secret Tsimane Diet
The Tsimane Diet originates from a group of indigenous people who reside in the Amazon jungle. Researchers  have recently discovered that their diet, high in carbs and with very minimal protein, may be the secret to what protects their population from heart disease.
The Tsimane people have a lifestyle that is more primitive than industrial; no electricity, motor vehicles, or the conveniences of our modern life. They chose to feast on fiber-aplenty complex carbs that make up almost 70 percent of what they eat – i.e. fresh bananas, rice and cassava. The remaining food in their diet is made up of proteins from animal meats and fats from their hunting episodes.
The Tsimane diet is the opposite to what is usually considered ‘healthy’. The study revealed that the Tsimane people experience high levels of chronic inflammation and had low levels of the usually good HDL cholesterol. This is more commonly a red light for heart disease. However nearly 85 percent of the Tsimane natives aged over 40 years had no atherosclerosis, and up to two-thirds of them once they reached 75 years old.
Atherosclerosis is plaque of the arteries which boosts strokes and heart attacks, and it is found in 85 percent of Americans over the age of 45 years. It seems researchers uncovered that an average 80-year-old Tsimane native has a heart with equivalent conditioning as a 50-year-old American. Pretty astonishing.
What are some of the reasons that the Tsimane diet may be proving so healthy for them?
- No trans fats
- Low in sugar and refined carbs
- The Tsimane people experience zero levels of obesity
- Their people are highly-active
Trans fats are modernized, artificially manufactured cooking oils that are only found in processed foods. It is known that these trans fats increase your LDL cholesterol levels and lowers your HDL (good) levels. This increases risk of stroke and heart disease and is also linked with type 2 diabetes.
The only sources of sugar that the Tsimane diet includes are those from the limited amount of fresh fruit they eat. The World Health Organization recommends that you cut the amount of sugar in your diet to a daily intake of only five percent. This would be equivalent to around six teaspoons for an average adult and account for every type of sugar including natural sugars found in honey, fruit juices and concentrates.
The Tsimane people are hunter gatherers who are on the go 90 percent of their waking hours. They don’t spend hours each day at workstations, sitting in cars commuting to work, or watching TV on the couch. This is likely to be a contributing factor to why the Tsimane people are able to handle such a high intake of carbs in their diet.
Can the Tsimane diet really work for you?
Although the Tsimane diet seems to work well for these indigenous Amazonian people, it may not be the most suited way of eating for those of the non-primitive way of life. Researchers believe that it is likely to be a combination of many factors of their way of life that can allow the Tsimane people to thrive with a healthy heart the way they do.
The best way to achieve an eating plan that mimics some of the properties of a Tsimane diet is to enjoy plenty of fibre-rich foods, complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice, oats and barley, fresh vegetables, lean meats, remove sugars and processed foods from our diet, and get some exercise every day. These are all proven ways to help with a healthy heart and lifestyle.
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- The Lancet: Coronary atherosclerosis in indigenous South American Tsimane: a cross-sectional cohort study