Everyone wants to live a long time and in good health, but living to over 100 years old today is still something only a few achieve. The rest of us are left to wonder—when it is not only due to good genetics, what secrets do the centenarians know about lifestyle aspects that lead to a long life?
While the number of centenarians today is around 450,000, the Gerontology Research Group believes that there are only 46 supercentenarians or those who live past 110 who were alive in 2016. The number is predicted to grow eightfold by 2050. What can we do ourselves to increase our chances of joining the centenarians?
Although many of them have recently passed on, the oldest living people have been interviewed on multiple occasions to give us their insights. The following is what they wanted you to know about living a long and healthy life.
Stay Away from Junk Food and Have a Sense of Humor (116 years old)
Besse Cooper lived in Georgia, U.S.A. when she passed at the age of 116 while still feeling vital and possessing an amazing memory. Her whole life she avoided any major illnesses, and she never had surgery.
When asked about her longevity in various interviews Besse gave some advice advice to those who would like to follow her footsteps:
- Do not believe that genetics are everything. All of Besse’s close family members died in their 60s and 70s.
- Do your own yard work. Besse’s interest in working in her yard herself, raking leaves and being outdoors, kept her active and provided fresh air.
- Avoid junk food, and eat a balanced diet, but do not forget to treat yourself as well and enjoy eating.
- Have a sense of humor.
Eat Small Meals and Avoid Pork (117 years old)
In Jamaica, the oldest person was Violet Brown or Aunt V. She lived till 117 years old and died last year. Her son told the local news that her health was due to eating smaller portions for every meal, and avoiding pork and chicken. She also ate a lot of locally-grown sweet potatoes and breadfruit, as well as oranges and mangoes.
From her own words, her long life was due to her religious beliefs and respecting her parents.
“Honor your mother and father so your days may be long,” she said.
Learn to Relax, Sleep, and Enjoy Your Food (117 years old)
At 117 years old Nabi Tajima was the oldest verified person living in Japan today, until passing away this past Saturday. She is surrounded by her family members, including nine children, who have her many 140 descendants: 28 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren, and 35 great-great-grandchildren.
When a popular Japanese newspaper interviewed her about her health and longevity in 2014, she told them that it is important to enjoy life by “eating delicious things” like ramen noodles, beef stew, and sushi.
Her main secret is likely to be avoiding stress.
“Eat and sleep and you will live a long time. You have to learn to relax,” she said.
Eat Two Raw and One Cooked Eggs Every Day (117 years old)
Emma Morano from Italy, who also passed in 2017 at the age of 117, consumed a controversial food all her life. Her longevity secret was to consumer eggs every single day—two of which she ate raw.
“Emma has always eaten very few vegetables, very little fruit. When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morning and then an omelette at noon, and chicken at dinner,”said her doctor Carlo Bava.
She also always contributed being single to her long life. After splitting with jer husband early in life, she spent the last 79 years without a partner.
“I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she said.
Nothing Beats Being Positive (116 Years Old)
Ana Maria Vela Rubio from Spain had two children, four grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren. Before her death in 2017 at the age of 116, her daughter claimed it was her joyful, positive attitude that kept her alive. Being surrounded by a loving family surely also added years to her life, as many studies point that being a part of a loving community add many years to a life.
Work Hard and Have Balance In Life (115 years old)
Dina Manfredini from Iowa, U.S.A., lived until the age of 115. She lived most of her life taking care of her family, but took a job as a housekeeper, which she held until she was 90. At the end of her life, she was able to walk with a walker and was in general good health.
Her family attributed her longevity to working hard and doing everything in moderation.
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Wake Up Early and Read (115 years old)
Jiroemon Kimura is the only man on this list, and he was one of the oldest men ever alive. He was born in a fishing village in Japan. He spent his working career at the post office until the retirement age of 65, then became a farmer until the age of 90.
When asked about his long life, he said it was because he woke up when the sun rose, read newspapers, and watched his food portions.
Learn to Love Oatmeal (114 years old)
Adele Dunlap lived in New Jersey until she died last year at the age of 114. She lived a good and simple life. She worked as a teacher until marrying and raising three children. Her husband has passed 54 years before she did. She never did anything special to take care of her health, according to her son.
“She never went out jogging or anything like that. She [was] not really thin, but she never weighed more than 140lb. She smoked…I think she ate anything she wanted,” her son Earl said in an interview.
One peculiar observation is that since childhood she told everyone she was younger than she actually was. Perhaps this is why even in her 110s years, she said she felt just the same as before.
The only one health food that Adele swore by was oatmeal.
Want to find out more secrets from the oldest people on Earth? Read “50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People.”
Smile Plenty and Love People (114 years old)
Elsie Thompson was a stylish dresser and practiced ballroom dancing until she died. At 114, she still sang and played piano. Her caregiver Susie Harper said she was always in a great mood and work up every morning with a huge smile on her face.
She would wake up every day saying: “Oh my, won’t you look outside? Isn’t it beautiful? And if it was raining, she would say ‘That’s okay, we’ll make our own sunshine,” Harper said
From Elsie’s own words her longevity was because was not due to her positivity. Her secret was simple.
“I love people,” she said.
This article was first published in April 2018.