Scientists have spent centuries developing wonder-drugs and medical technologies undreamed of by their ancestors.
But despite the marvels of modern medicine, no doctor has yet cracked the secret of youth, the ability to extend good health and vitality into old age.
The key to that secret may be held by a little-known tribe in the depths of the Amazon rainforest, it has emerged.
The Tsimane people, pictured at the entrance of a traditional home, who live in the Bolivian Amazon, have the healthiest arteries ever studied by scientists
WHY AREN'T THEY AT RISK OF HEART DISEASE?
Members of the remote South American tribe are far less likely to develop heart disease as they age.
That's because the tribes people have extremely healthy arteries thanks to their active lifestyle.
Professor Hillard Kaplan, from the University of New Mexico, who led the study, said: 'Their lifestyle suggests that a diet low in saturated fats and high in non-processed fibre-rich carbohydrates, along with wild game and fish, not smoking and being active throughout the day could help prevent hardening in the arteries of the heart.'
Members of a remote South American tribe are far less likely to develop heart disease as they age, researchers have discovered.
Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world, a problem that until now doctors have thought inevitably becomes a risk with age.
But the Tsimane people, a foraging society in the Bolivian Amazon, do not demonstrate the pattern seen in Western and industrialised societies.
The tribe - which resisted the advances of European missionaries in the 17th century - has the healthiest arteries ever seen, according a new study.
The Tsimane people, who live in the Bolivian Amazon, spend most of every day hunting, fishing, farming and gathering wild fruits and nuts, and follow a carbohydrate-based diet containing little protein and fat.
Researchers have suggested their active lifestyle has helped them to remain in astonishingly good health - even in old age.
Scientists who examined hundreds of men and women from the group found that almost nine out of ten had clear arteries showing no risk of heart disease.
Almost two thirds of people aged over 75 were nearly risk free and just eight per cent had a moderate-to-high risk level.
Nine out of ten tribes people, pictured here harvesting manioc root, had clear arteries showing no risk of heart disease
One 80-year-old had arteries resembling those of Americans in their mid-fifties.
Professor Hillard Kaplan, from the University of New Mexico, who led the study, said: 'Our study shows that the Tsimane indigenous South Americans have the lowest prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) of any population yet studied.
'Their lifestyle suggests that a diet low in saturated fats and high in non-processed fibre-rich carbohydrates, along with wild game and fish, not smoking and being active throughout the day could help prevent hardening in the arteries of the heart.
The people spend most of every day hunting, fishing, farming and gathering wild fruits and nuts. Pictured is a man and his son hunting with a bow and arrow
The Tsimane is a tribe of 13,000 people living along the banks of the Maniqui River in the Bolivian Amazon
Heart disease is the number one killer in the UK and the US.
In Britain, it accounts for more than 73,000 deaths every year.
Around one in six men and one in ten women die from heart disease.
In the US, one in every four deaths is caused by heart disease.
Heart disease is when your heart's blood supply is blocked by the build-up of fat.
Over time, the walls of the arteries became covered in fat in a process known as atherosclerosis.
'The loss of subsistence diets and lifestyles could be classed as a new risk factor for vascular ageing and we believe that components of this way of life could benefit contemporary sedentary populations.'
While people living in cities are sedentary for more than half their waking hours, the Tsimane are inactive for only ten percent of the day.
Men spend an average of six to seven hours a day engaged in physical activity, while women are active for four to six hours, said the researchers.
The Tsimane diet largely consists of non-processed carbohydrates high in fibre, such as rice, plantain, manioc, corn, nuts and fruits.
Protein, from animal meat, accounts for only 14 per cent of the diet and fat makes up the same proportion.
Each member of the tribe consumes roughly 38 grams of fat per day, of which just 11 grams is saturated fat. Pictured is two men butcher a deer after hunting in the forest
Each member of the tribe consumes roughly 38 grams of fat per day, of which just 11 grams is saturated fat.
The researchers visited 85 Tsimane villages between 2004 and 2015 and measured heart disease risk by carrying out CT (computed tomography) X-ray scans on 705 adults aged 40 to 94.
Similar scans of nearly 7,000 Americans in a previous study showed that only 14 per cent had no risk of heart disease.
Two thirds of people aged over 75 were at no risk of heart disease. Pictured is Tsimane people crossing the Maniqui River at sunrise
Half were at moderate-to-high risk - a five-fold greater prevalence rate than that seen in the Tsimane population.
Members of the tribe also had low readings for heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
But strangely, half the population had raised inflammation markers, despite this normally being seen as a risk factor for unhealthy arteries.
Co-author Professor Randall Thompson, from Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, said: 'Conventional thinking is that inflammation increases the risk of heart disease.
Members of the tribe also had low readings for heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar
'However, the inflammation common to the Tsimane was not associated with increased risk of heart disease, and may instead be the result of high rates of infections.'
The research is being presented at an American College of Cardiology conference taking place in Washington DC.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: 'We already know that certain aspects of lifestyle increase your risk of heart disease, and we've been providing advice on these for many years now.
But strangely, half the population had raised inflammation markers, despite this normally being seen as a risk factor for unhealthy arteries
'This study simply adds to the wealth of research already done on this topic.
'There are some lessons we can learn from this study though.
'It may not be possible for people in the industrialised world to copy the Tsimane community's way of life, but there are certainly aspects of their diet and lifestyle, such as not smoking and eating a diet low in fat, that we can better incorporate into our lives to help reduce our risk of heart disease.'
The research was published in the medical journal The Lancet.
WHO ARE THE TSIMANE TRIBE?
The Tsimane is a tribe of 13,000 people living along the banks of the Maniqui River in the Bolivian Amazon.
Unlike other Amazon tribes, the group has remained isolated from modern society since rejecting the advances of Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century.
The tribe, comprised of 80 small villages, spread throughout the rainforest, is one of the last groups in the world which survives through foraging, fishing and hunting alone.
They fish using bow and arrow and poisonous vines, hunting with machetes and tracking dogs.
Despite their rugged lifestyle, Tsimane men have a third less testosterone than Western men, but the Bolivian forager-farmers’ testosterone level does not decline with age.
Their stable testosterone levels mean the tribesman rarely suffer from obesity, heart disease and other illnesses linked with older age.
Tsimane women’s breast milk is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, crucial for brain development, than milk produced by Western women.
The average Tsimane family has nine children, though about five per cent die before their first birthday and 15 per cent die before age five.
More than 70 per cent of the Tsimane diet consists of high-fibre carbohydrate including rice, plantain, manioc, corn, nuts and fruits.
The tribespeople eat just 38g of fat a day, 11g of saturated fat and no trans fats.
The Tsiname are traditionally animists, and believe supernatural creatures who live in the forest control their fortunes.
They brew manioc beer in huge vats, a crucial part of social events which bring together families and villages.
They speak Tsimane as their primary language - a language completely distinct from other indiginous groups even a few miles away. but many speak Spanish as well due to recent bilingual education efforts.
The small number of Tsimane living around the town of San Borja own motorcycles and use mobile phones, but further up the Maniqui River the tribes people’s lives are far more traditional.