How long can we live?
In Malaysia, the average life span is about 75 years.
But, for the people of Bama in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China, at 70 one is still considered young enough to carry out demanding physical work.
In 2000, the census in Bama showed that there were 3,160 people aged between 80 and 89, and 76 people aged over 100. The eldest was 123 years old.
It is common to see elderly folk in their 80s or 90s, and families of four or five generations living under one roof.
There are no no obese people in Bama.
It is rare to come across elderly people suffering from common health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, gout or even cancer.
Many of the villagers have never been to a hospital.
What are Bama’s secret of longevity?
Non-material culture, hard labour, geographical terrain, climate, diet and social background are contributing factors.
In terms of diet, the villagers eat simplest of meals, including corn, groundnuts, rice, millet, sweet potatoes, soybean, pumpkin, sweet potato leaves, mushroom and bamboo shoot.
They love to eat corn gruel, rice porridge and steamed buns, and drink home-brewed rice wine.
No meat at all?
No. Meat from local pygmy pig, goat, chicken and duck is eaten sparingly as vegetable are the staple food.
If there is a chance, I certain like to visit Bama village in the future.
[Source: Foong Thim Leng, “Longevity rules”, T2 Lifestyle Startwo, The Star 16 August 2010].