Longevity Lessons from Centenarians

Longevity Lessons from Centenarians

Human life expectancy has increased significantly, from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.4 years by 2019 (R). While modern advancements have extended our lifespan, living past 100 years remains a rare feat. Centenarians, those who live to be 100 or more, offer valuable insights into longevity. 

This article delves into the lifestyle habits and dietary choices of these extraordinary individuals to uncover the secrets behind their extended lifespans.

Jeanne Calment: The Oldest Verified Person

Jeanne Calment holds the record for being the oldest verified person, living to 122 years and 164 days. Her remarkable longevity can be attributed to several lifestyle habits (R):

Active Lifestyle: She spent time playing the piano, tennis, swimming, cycling, and attending opera.

Family Longevity: Her mother lived to 86 and her father to 93.

Stress Management: Despite the heartbreak of losing her daughter and husband within eight years, she coped with stress remarkably well.

Social Life: She had a great sense of humour and lived a social life.

Jeanne Calment’s extraordinary lifespan offers valuable insights into the key factors contributing to her longevity. Jeanne’s life serves as a testament to the profound impact that a balanced, active, and socially connected lifestyle can have on extending one’s years, providing a powerful blueprint for those aspiring to achieve a long, fulfilling life.

Blue Zone Insights: Lessons from Okinawan Centenarians

Okinawa, a serene island in Japan, is known as a Blue Zone where people frequently live past 100. Key practices of Okinawan centenarians include (R):

Support Networks: They form strong social connections and regularly support each other.

Ikigai: This Japanese philosophy provides Okinawan centenarians with a deep sense of purpose and responsibility. Translating to “a reason for being,” ikigai gives them a meaningful direction in life, driving daily activities and fostering a positive outlook.

Gardening: It's a lifestyle that keeps them active and provides fresh food.

Plant-Based Diet: Up to 90% of their diet consists of whole-plant foods, with minimal meat.

The lifestyle practices of Okinawan centenarians offer invaluable insights into achieving longevity and well-being.

Emma Morano: The Last Person Born in the 1800s

Emma Morano lived through three centuries, being the last person born in the 19th century. Her longevity secrets include:

Independent Living: She lived alone since 1938 and never remarried.

Diet: She ate two raw eggs and one cooked egg daily and avoided meat due to cancer fears.

Genetics: She believed genetics played a key role in her long life.

Emma Morano’s incredible lifespan showcases the diverse factors that can contribute to exceptional longevity. 

Jiroemon Kimura: Secrets of the World’s Longest-Lived Man

Jiroemon Kimura’s remarkable life spanned 116 years, making him the world’s longest-lived man. His longevity offers valuable lessons that can inspire and guide those seeking to live a long and healthy life:

Continued Work: Worked various jobs until 65 and then on his family farm until 90.

Moderation: Ate until 80% full and in small portions.

Routine: Woke up early and read newspapers regularly.

Exercise: Maintained a daily exercise schedule.

Jiroemon’s habits highlight the importance of staying active, eating mindfully, and maintaining a structured daily routine for those aspiring to achieve longevity and overall well-being.

Maria Esther de Capovilla: South America's Longevity Icon

Maria Esther de Capovilla lived to the remarkable age of 116 years, earning her place among the world’s longest-lived individuals. Her lifestyle offers several key insights into achieving longevity:

Low-Stress Life: She didn’t get upset easily.

Healthy Diet: She never smoked and ate small meals.

Active Hobbies: Spent early life painting, playing the piano, and embroidering.

Maria Esther de Capovilla’s life demonstrates the importance of maintaining a low-stress lifestyle, eating in moderation, engaging in fulfilling hobbies, and living in a supportive environment.

Diet and Nutrition: Common Trends Among Centenarians

Common dietary trends among centenarians include:

Plant-Based Diets: Predominantly plant-based with minimal meat.

Moderation: Ate until 80% full.

No Smoking or Excessive Drinking: Minimal alcohol and no smoking.

Low Sugar Intake: Little to no sugar consumption.

Physical Activity and Longevity: Insights from Active Centenarians

Regular physical activity is crucial for longevity, as evidenced by the centenarians' routines. Exercise reduces mortality risk by 27%, highlighting its importance for a longer life (R).

Social Connections and Mental Health: The Centenarian Perspective

Strong social connections are vital for mental health and longevity. Studies show a healthy social life is linked to a 50% increased chance of survival. Most centenarians maintain robust social lives and relationships (R).

How Can I Live to Be 100? Applying Centenarian Practices Today

Applying centenarian habits can be challenging but achievable with these simple steps:

Gardening: Try growing some of your fruits and vegetables.

Healthy Diet: Use whole grains, vegetables, beans, and reduce meat intake.

Social Bonds: Develop and maintain healthy relationships.

Regular Exercise: Incorporate physical activity into your routine.

Stress Management: Keep stress levels low and work on mental peace.

By adopting these practices in your own way, you can enhance your chances of living a longer, healthier life. And remember that there’s no one way to live, it’s important to do the things that nourish you and make you feel good. 

If you want to learn more about the world’s healthiest people, read our article on The Blue Zones. 

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Written By Natasha Jordan

BHSc Nutritional Medicine, International health - University Of Queensland

Diploma In Dermal Science - AACDS

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