News Feature

Miduana villagers' recipe for longevity: Living in harmony with nature

Miduana villagers' recipe for longevity: Living in harmony with nature

Even at 103, Grandma Sahria has stuck to her daily routine, which includes growing vegetables, undertaking exercise, or washing clothes in the pond behind her home, in Miduana customary village, Naringgul, Cianjur district, West Java. (ANTARA/Ahmad Fikri)

Cianjur, West Java (ANTARA) - Hidden in the lush forest of Naringgul Sub-district, Cianjur, West Java, residents of Miduana customary village have continued their traditional and natural way of life—they only consume what their hands have nurtured and planted.

Grandma Sahria, one of the village residents, has been regular in her daily activities, which include planting vegetables and performing small exercises, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and sleep cycle.

This is quite novel because Grandma Sahria turns 103 this year.

Her face and voice do not reveal her true age, and her hands still have the agility to allow her to pick the vegetables she wants to eat or wash clothes in the pond behind her home.

Despite being slightly myopic, she greets neighbors or guests at her doorstep with a sharp gaze. She does not even require assistance from her children or grandchildren to go to the bathroom, which is separated from her home.

Like Sahria, Grandpa Uyet, who will reportedly turn 125 this year, still has enough prowess to work in the field and hunt for payo fish—a small fish similar to tadpole, but slightly larger in size—which Miduana residents believe prolongs longevity.

Every day, Grandpa Uyet only consumes the food he grows in the field, betel leaves, and water from a nearby spring. Most of Miduana village elderly residents never consume food from outside the village or grown with non-organic fertilizers, which makes their food habits more healthy.

"My vision is still sharp, and my hearing is still normal. I enjoy my life every day, and sometimes I perform a small exercise by walking to the field or hunting payo fish in the river. When I am ill, I never consume chemical medicines; I only consume traditional medicines and other natural medicines," Uyet added.

Besides Sahria and Uyet, there are more than a dozen centenarians in the Miduana customary village. They are committed to maintaining the traditions inherited from their ancestors and village elders, including their cropping and farming patterns.

Recipe for longevity

The unusual longevity of some Miduana residents has attracted the interest of Bandung-based Padjadjaran University researcher Priyo Subekti, who has been studying the residents’ health with a focus on their dietary habits, lifestyles, and mindsets.

The preliminary result has shown that Miduana village residents have a good diet as they consume only natural food grown using local resources, follow a healthy lifestyle, and have a more positive mindset on life.

Miduana’s customary habits ensure they only consume healthy food, in contrast with residents in urban regions who disregard the nutritional value of their food and frequently consume fast food with low nutrition, Subekti said.

"There are some factors that make residents of Miduana custom village have a long age with good physical prowess, which makes them able to continue daily activities though their age has surpassed 100 years old, even 125 years old, and one of those factors is their (good) lifestyle and habit of consuming healthy food from the nature," he explained.

Meanwhile, Miduana village elder, Yayat, aged 75, said that the villagers believe that payo fish, which they catch from the nearby Cipadak River, is the main reason for their longevity, though the claim has not been scientifically proven.

Residents are convinced that daily consumption of payo fish has helped them live long without aging, he said. The benefits of payo fish have even piqued the curiosity of tourists who visit the village to consume healthy food, including the fish, he added.

Opening the village to tourists

Miduana customary village, with its rich culture, natural beauty, preserved traditions, and unusual longevity among residents, has attracted public interest.

After being shrouded in seclusion for years, residents of the village finally agreed to open the village for tourists with the assistance of the district authority, with the assurance that their customary life would not be disrupted.

The Cianjur Tourism, Youth, and Sports Office, in collaboration with Lokatmala Indonesia Foundation and the village elders, agreed to make the village the district’s newest tourism village.

Head of the district office, Pratama Nugraha, said that the tourism village will be developed gradually, and the access road to the village and tourism facilities have been developed to prepare Miduana village for tourism.

He informed that the district authority has continued to conceive special events in Miduana, in coordination with the village elders, to boost tourist visits to the village.

Since the village opened itself to tourism, it has welcomed 100 to 200 tourists weekly. They spend their time in the village enjoying its natural beauty, healthy food, and art performances.

Meanwhile, a member of Miduana Customary Council, Rustiman, said that village residents and elders all support the decision to develop the village as a tourist village as long as it does not disrupt their traditional way of life.

To prevent pollution in their village, they have restricted all forms of transportation, traveling solely by foot for long. Besides, all parts of the village are within walking distance. The village authority has also decided not to widen village roads to prevent vehicles from entering the village.

Despite no longer secluding themselves from development, residents of Miduana customary village have committed to continuing the traditions inherited from their ancestors that have ensured their longevity and healthy lifestyle, as well as their positive mindset toward life.

We can also learn how to live better by emulating the positive life habits of Miduana residents.

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