Photo courtesy of Survival International
by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil
While the Amazon rainforest is certainly known to be teeming with life, it turns out that the people who live there are too. Maria Lucimar Pereira, an indigenous Amazonian belonging to the Kaxinawá tribe of western Brazil, will soon be celebrating her birthday -- her 121st birthday, to be exact. The truth behind Pereira's remarkable longevity was recently discovered by the Brazilian government while performing a routine review of birth records -- which, in her case, date back to 1890 -- making her the world's oldest living person. And the best part of all? Pereira credits her long-life to an all-natural diet derived wholly from the Amazon.
According to Survival International, an indigenous rights group working in the Amazon, the government officials have confirmed the validity of Pereira's birth certificate, indicating that the Brazilian native is not only the world's oldest living person, but is also 6 years older than the previous title-holder.
What makes Pereira's longevity all the more fascinating are the humble conditions in which she lives. The centenarian, who will turn 121 years old on Saturday, lives in a remote corner of the Amazon, in the Brazilian state of Acre, where she practices a traditional way of life that stretches back for centuries, free of many modern amenities many people half her age often think they cannot live without.
Pereira credits her long-life to an active, healthy lifestyle, in addition to a diet rich in locally grown meats, fruits, and vegetables gathered in the forests around her home -- free of the extra salt, sugar, and preservatives so commonly found in foods around the world. Her all-natural diet, along with frequent walks around town, has allowed Pereira to thrive while others, many years her junior, do not.
With so many fads and gimmicks aimed at promoting a 'healthy' alternative, Pereira's example seems to suggest that looking to past dietary habits may be the best way to ensure a thriving life stretching far into the future.
"All too often we witness the negative effects forced change can have on indigenous peoples," says Stephen Corry of Survival International. "It is refreshing to see a community that has retained strong links to its ancestral land and enjoyed the undeniable benefits of this."
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