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Living Beyond a Century: Lessons from 7 Centenarians

Living past 100 years is a remarkable achievement, often attributed to a combination of genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. While there's no guaranteed formula for longevity, examining the lives of those who've crossed this milestone can provide valuable insights. Here are seven centenarians who not only lived past 100 but also shared their secrets to a long life.

1. Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) - The Record Holder

Jeanne Calment, a French woman, holds the record for the longest confirmed human lifespan, living to 122 years and 164 days. Her longevity secrets included a diet rich in olive oil, which she also used on her skin, a love for chocolate, and the occasional glass of port wine. Despite her age, she remained mentally sharp and took up fencing at 85 and was still riding a bicycle at 100.

2. Misao Okawa (1898-2015) - Simplicity and Sushi

Misao Okawa, a Japanese supercentenarian who lived to be 117, attributed her long life to eating sushi and getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. Her diet was predominantly Japanese, consisting of rice, fish, and soup. Okawa emphasized the importance of relaxation, suggesting that stress-free living could contribute to longevity.

3. Jiroemon Kimura (1897-2013) - Small Portions and Sunlight

Jiroemon Kimura, also from Japan, lived to 116. His secret was eating small portions – a common practice in Japanese culture known as “hara hachi bu” (eating until you're 80% full). He also attributed his long life to exposure to sunlight, which is a natural source of Vitamin D, and his positive attitude towards life.

4. Emma Morano (1899-2017) - Raw Eggs and Independence

Emma Morano of Italy lived to 117. She ate three raw eggs a day for most of her life, a habit she began after a bout of anemia in her youth. Morano also credited her longevity to her decision to stay single after a marriage ended in 1938. Living independently, she claimed, reduced stress and contributed to her long life.

5. Susannah Mushatt Jones (1899-2016) - Love for Family and Bacon

Susannah Mushatt Jones from the USA lived to be 116. She never smoked or drank, but she did enjoy bacon. Jones also emphasized the importance of family and love in her life. She surrounded herself with many nieces and nephews, and maintained a close-knit family environment.

6. Bernando LaPallo (1901-2015) - Discipline and Natural Foods

Bernando LaPallo, a Brazilian-American who lived to 114, attributed his longevity to a disciplined lifestyle and a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables. He avoided red meat and ate plenty of garlic, honey, cinnamon, and chocolate. LaPallo also emphasized the importance of physical activity and mental agility through reading and solving crossword puzzles.

7. Sarah Knauss (1880-1999) - Tranquility and Chocolates

Sarah Knauss, an American, lived to be 119. She was known for her serene demeanor and a stress-free approach to life. Knauss enjoyed chocolates and kept herself busy with hobbies like knitting. Her family members often spoke of her calm and tranquil nature, which they believed played a significant role in her long life.

Common Threads and Takeaways

While each of these centenarians had unique habits and lifestyles, several common themes emerge:

  • Diet: A diet rich in natural and unprocessed foods, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and fish.
  • Moderation: Eating in moderation, and in some cases, specific dietary habits like raw eggs or chocolate.
  • Mental Agility: Keeping the mind active through reading, puzzles, or other hobbies.
  • Physical Activity: Remaining physically active, whether through daily chores, exercise, or hobbies like cycling or fencing.
  • Stress Management: A common theme of stress-free living, whether through a tranquil disposition, staying single, or maintaining close family ties.

While genetics undoubtedly play a significant role in longevity, the lifestyles of these centenarians suggest that our daily habits and attitudes towards life can significantly influence our lifespan. Their stories provide a fascinating glimpse into the diverse paths to a century of life and beyond.

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