Two indigenous groups in the Bolivian Amazon have a dementia rate of 1%, compared to 8-11% in developed countries.
According to the scientists, their way of life and the quality of the air could explain these discoveries.
So, could these indigenous peoples hold the secret to keeping dementia at bay?
The results of a study published in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association suggest that might be the case.
To carry out their research, scientists from the University of Southern California (USC) in the United States, assessed the mental state of people over the age of 60 among the Tsimane and Mosetén peoples.
A Bolivian doctor, already familiar with the groups, asked them a series of questions.
Respondents’ brain health was measured by several neurological assessments, including brain scans, cognitive tests and a questionnaire.
Among the Tsimane, who number around 17,000, the scientists were able to study 435 volunteers, five of whom suffered from dementia.
Among the Mosetén, which total about 3,000 people, 169 members have been assessed, with only one case of dementia.
“Indigenous Tsimane and Mosetén have a low prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias,” reads the study.
“Something about the pre-industrial subsistence lifestyle seems to protect older Tsimane and Mosetén people from dementia,” says Dr. Margaret Gatz, lead author of the study and professor of psychology, gerontology, and preventive medicine at USC.
According to scientists, the answer lies in the way of life of these tribes, whose diet is low in saturated fat and whose lifestyle is “physically demanding”.
This could help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, the development of which can be associated with various factors such as high blood pressure, heart disease, physical inactivity and air pollution.
The benefits of this lifestyle don’t end there.
According to previous studies, members of these two groups have the healthiest hearts in the world.
In addition, their brain aging was found to be 70% slower than that of Westerners. – AFP Relax news