The world’s oldest person recently passed away at the age of 119 in Japan. Kane Tanaka became the world’s oldest living person back in January 2019 when she reached the age of 116, and her death was covered all over the news, although most articles couldn’t help but also mention Jeanne Calment, a French woman whose purported record age of 122 has been the subject of much fascination (and investigation) for decades. The Guinness World Records even tweeted that Tanaka was “the second oldest person ever recorded, behind only Jeanne Calment who lived to the age of 122.” However, the latter half of that statement may not actually be true; The Guardian wrote an interesting piece investigating why many people now see Calment as a fraud (apparently she really liked the attention!), so as it seems increasingly unlikely that she really lived to the age of 122, then is it a fair assessment to say Kane Tanaka’s death at 119 has made her the new “world’s oldest person” ever recorded? Either way,there are plenty of great lessons and tips we can learn from any centenarian’s life—how did they eat, did they sleep a lot, were they happy, did they socialize or prefer solitude, were they physically or mentally active?
In Tanaka’s case, she was a noted early riser who loved to eat chocolate, drink coffee, and spend her mornings doing mathematics and calligraphy. When asked what she thought the secret to a long life is, Tanaka said it was to do the things that you like to do. She continued: “[By] eating the things I like, doing the things I like, I’ve been able to enjoy each and every day.”
Here are a few additional tips from some other centenarians:
Pork. Many centenarians share a fondness for all forms of pork. Jeralean Talley, who became the oldest living American back in 2013 when she turned 114, claimed two of her secrets to a long life were being nice and eating pig’s feet (she even ate the ears!). She also stayed mentally active over the years by sewing and making quilts.
One 105 year old woman from Texas attributed her longevity to bacon, which she ate every single day, and one of the signature dishes in Sardinia, Italy (famously one of the world’s “Blue Zones”) is su porceddu, a roasted suckling pig.
Pork is also a staple food for the Okinawans and the Costa Ricans who reside in the Nicoya Peninsula—two places known for their centenarian population. In my blog article, The Surprising Secret to Centenarians’ Longevity, I talked about the prominent role pork plays in the diets of those in the 100+ club, and it’s no surprise when you look at all that it contains: B vitamins (notably B3, niacin, and B1, which increases metabolism, converts fat into energy, and reduces bad cholesterol levels), selenium and zinc, as well as omega 3 monounsaturated and long chain PUFA fats, collagen, glycine, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, taurine, glutamine, and creatine. One Chinese woman who lived to be 119 years old ate pork twice a day, every day!
Chocolate. Many members of the 100+ club have reported eating at least one piece of chocolate daily. One 105 year old woman called her daily chocolate and red wine habit her health secret, and another 102 year old woman attributed her longevity to napping and eating two pieces of chocolate a day. In fact, a Harvard University study that monitored 600 people for 60 years found that those who consumed chocolate regularly lived a whole year longer than those who didn’t!
Eggs. One Italian woman who lived to be 117 ate three eggs a day—simple, but super nutritious. An Alabama-born woman who ate eggs and bacon every day for breakfast lived to be 116. These nutritional powerhouses are the perfect way to break your fast, and popular among centenarians for a reason.
Don’t stress. Read about centenarians anywhere in the world, and you will notice one thing that stands out—their attitude. Most centenarians are happy people who actively advise against stress. You’ll notice they focus on the importance of gratitude and emphasize the role it has played in their longevity, and many recommend staying positive, being kind, socializing with loved ones, and always having a gracious and appreciative mindset. As we know from my shows on Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief, our thoughts directly affect our cellular function at all times, so don’t forget to always keep in mind how powerful of an effect stress can have on our health.