Well, a team of researchers from the University of California headed down to the Amazon and conducted brain imaging on the indigenous Tsimane people of Bolivia. They enrolled 746 Tsimane adults into their study and compared the results with those from populations in the United States and Europe. The results were shocking.
They found that the difference in brain volumes between middle age and old age to be 70% less in Tsimane than in the Western populations studied. These results indicate that the Tsimane experience far lower levels of brain atrophy, a factor associated with cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration.
The Tsimane people have healthier brains that age more slowly. A previous study from 2017 also found that they have the lowest levels of arterial disease known to science. But what factors underpin such a drastic difference?
Compared to the sugar-laden diet and sedentary lifestyle of the West, the Tsimane people consume mainly vegetables, fish, and lean meat. They also remain extremely physically active during most of their life.
Andrei Irimia, the study author, stated, “The Tsimane have provided us with an amazing natural experiment on the potentially detrimental effects of modern lifestyles on our health.”