Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Bread Of (Eternal) Life

How much of the following paragraph is fact?

The Hunzas exist isolated from the rest of the world in the Himalayan Mountains where they live to be up to 110 years & older. They have no cancer, heart attacks, or other major disorders to speak of. They are active and fit to the very end. Men father children at 90 years and older. [...] Both men and women have perfect teeth and eyesight even at 100 years and older! [...] As you know, the Egyptians were capable of doing many things that modern science still cannot duplicate.

Answer: The Hunzas exist in the Himalayan Mountains.

This is all in support of spam that has been circulating for some years, purporting to sell you the "secret" of Hunza bread, an amazing recipe that will keep you healthy, let you live to 200, and stay trim and fit. The latest example EoR has received emanates from an Australian source (of course, like all fraudulent scams, there are telltale signs, not the least of which is the bright blue Heading6 text on a bright yellow background, or the fact that a supposedly legitimate site is hosted on a UK Geocities account, and probably has nothing to do with this particular spammer, who is just piggybacking on the money train).

Apparently, Mrs Lotte Svenson (EoR bets that's a fake name), a lowly housewife, has trumped the world's scientists by either rediscovering, or just inventing, the magic Hunza bread recipe (both explanations are offered - remember, when fooling the gullible two, different, explanations are always better than one). This amazing bread tastes wonderful but, after eating it, you won't be hungry for hours and hours - thus losing weight the easy way (remember - the gullible are always looking for easy miracle solutions to their problems).

After a piece or two of HUNZA DIET BREAD you eliminate both appetite and hunger. You feel satisfied and full. And, it lasts depending on the person up to 7 hours."

It's also claimed that Hunza bread is "close to being a balanced meal in itself". The supposed interviewer of this apparently fake piece of journalism declaims:

I took a bite. The delicious taste of the bread filled my mouth. You could tell that it was hearty, full of substance, chewy, and I could just tell it was good for you. Perhaps our bodies trigger an instinct that lets us know what's good or bad for us.

Which is why people never eat anything poisonous, presumably.

Producing such a wonderful bread, which would have the world's obese clamouring for more, was, for some reason, too difficult. But it's okay! Fear not! The good genius housewife will sell you the recipe! Just send A$20 to a post office box. Cash only, of course. You'll get what you deserve. Remember: cash. Nothing that's traceable.

Like many altie nutritional beliefs, there's more than a trace of religious zeal about this. Both the South African National Halaal Authority and jesus-is-savior.com support this myth ("How would you like to live in a land where cancer has not yet been invented?" - cancer was invented? Who by? When? And just what is "Hunzaland"?). Though, hang on, it's apricots that are the miracle food. Or the kernels. Or the bread. No, hang on, it's the colloidal mineral clusters. Or apricot oil. Um, the antioxidants in the water. Look: it's something, okay? So buy the miracle cure(s) now! Cash only, of course. Now, if only the Hunza were getting a portion of the money being ripped off worldwide in their name...

Of course, the Hunza may well not have obesity as an issue (malnourished subsistence farmers in the Third World usually have other concerns). But no diseases?

The prevalence of cataract in two villages of northern Pakistan with different levels of ultraviolet radiation.
Application of visual analogue scale of happiness to elderly Himalayan highlanders
Impact of the long term supply of iodized salt to the endemic goitre area.
Tick-borne viruses of West Pakistan. IV. Viruses similar to or identical with, Crimean hemorrhagic fever (Congo-Semunya), Wad Medani and Pak Argas 461 isolated from ticks of the Changa Manga Forest, Lahore District, and of Hunza, Gilgit Agency, W. Pakistan.

The myth of the marvellous Hunza lifestyle originates in some faulty claims made in a 1970's National Geographic documentary.

How Long Did They Live?:
No one really knows. Physicians examined the Hunza and made their best guesses to how old they people were. Without focusing too much on documented maximum age, the truly extraordinary fact is that all reports from the Hunza mention that the elderly population is fit, full of vitality and virtually free from disease.

How Did They Keep Free from Illness?:
In short, exercise. The mountains that the Hunza live in are extremely rough terrain and the Hunza people spend their lives moving among the rough passages and steep ridges. They are said to be more hardy than even the famous Sherpa people of the Himalayan region.

As this page puts it:

Hunza Miracle Diet Bread - doesn't work. Surely, only criminals would knowingly push "products" that don't work.

Of course, "Hunza" bread recipes are available free on the internet. Here's a number, or just google. Though you're probably better off just climbing up and down mountains to get fit.

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