40 Secrets of longevity from longest living people

It’s not unusual for the oldest living people in the world to be quite surprised at all the attention they get. They think that longevity is nothing remarkable, and many of them don’t even realise they have broken any records until reporters turn up on their doorstep to mark their latest in a very long line of birthdays. What’s even more astonishing is that some of these people claim that their long lives are not due to healthy living and good diet at all, but with some rather strange things as well. So, if you want to know what the secret to a long life is, read on, and you will find what some of the longest living people in the world have put their longevity down to.

1. Drinking tea

Before her death in 2015, Ethel Lang was one of the oldest living people in England and the last Briton alive who was born in the reign of Queen Victoria. Ethel said that her secrets of longevity were that she had never smoked, she had only very rarely drunk any alcohol, and she drank a lot of tea. Like so many of her generation, she also did all her own cooking, and she baked her own bread too.

2. Just don’t die!

Sakari Momoi lived until he was 112 and he was the oldest living man in the world at the time of his death. He had worked his entire life as a teacher and he didn’t have a clue as to why he was still living, well beyond his 100th birthday. When asked what his secret was, he said; “I simply haven’t died yet”. Mind you he did also say that he exercised regularly and only ate in moderation.

3. Faith

Jamaican born Violet Brown is one of the oldest living people to have ever lived in Jamaica and, at 115 years old, she is currently the third oldest person living in the world. Violet was born in 1900, and she remembers that, as a child, she had to get up early in the morning to walk to fetch water for the family and still she had to make it into school by 9.00am. She puts her extraordinarily long life down to her faith and her abiding by the Ten Commandments.

4. Homemade brandy and positive thinking

One of the oldest living people to have ever lived in Italy is also the last European to have been born in the 19th century. Emma Morano is now 116 years old and she says that has never taken drugs and the only alcohol she has ever drunk is her own homemade brandy. She also says that her positive thinking about the future has played a big part in her longevity.

5. A plain and light diet

Johanna Klink was born in 1903 and she was one of the oldest living people in Germany up until her death in 2015. She stayed in great physical shape and she was mentally alert right up until her last days. She said that her secret was a plain and light diet and she only ever used a few drops of oil in her cooking.

6. Hard work and love

Gertrude Weaver lived in Arkansas, USA, for 116 years and 276 days and she was the oldest person alive when she died in April 2015. She had never had any chronic diseases, and she participated in the activities at the home where she lived right up until the day that she died. She believed that her longevity was due to nothing more than hard work, faith, and loving the people who were around her.

7. Go with the flow

Orma Slack, who lived in Canada until she was 112 years old, said that she had never really done anything special to reach such an old age. She said that she just lived out her life, went with the flow, and she never had a bad word to say about anyone. Amazingly, this incredible lady was still doing volunteer work for a hospital at the age of 104 and she only stopped then, because she couldn’t get a ride into work anymore.

8. Beer

At the ripe old age of 110, New Jersey resident, Agnes Fenton puts her long life down to what she calls the champagne of beers, Miller High Life. She started drinking the beer on the advice of a doctor after she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, seventy years ago. She has had to stop her three a day beer drinking habit in more recent years, but she insists she will have a couple on her next birthday!

9. Don’t visit the doctor

The oldest person living in the world today is Susannah Mushatt Jones and she is age 116 years, 193 days old at the time of writing this list. She has always avoided taking medication, drinking alcohol, and didn’t even use makeup or hair dyes. She says that she still only sees a doctor four times a year and it’s her not using anything artificial in, or on, her body that has kept her going for so long. She also said that not being married helps too.

10. Don’t stop moving

Jeralean Talley of Georgia, USA, made it all the way to 116 and one month old before she passed away in June 2015. She only ever tried to drive a car once, but went backwards, instead of forwards, so she never tried again. That’s not her secret of longevity, though. She said that the reason that she had lived for so long was that she never stopped moving and she was still playing bowling at the age of 104.

11. Celibacy

Clara Meadmore, who lived in Great Britain, never got around to making love because she said was always too busy and that made her Britain’s oldest virgin when she reached the age 108. She was brought up in a time when intimacy meant marriage and she thought that marriage would get in the way of her career. She often said that the reason she reached the age she did was because of her lifelong abstinence from physical intimacy.

12. Sushi

At 117 years and one month old when she died, Misao Okawa was one of the oldest living people living in Japan. She was still working out at the grand old age of 102, she was still able to walk unaided at the age of 110 and, even then, she only had to start using a wheelchair because she developed problems with her balance. She said that the secret to long life was sushi and a good night’s sleep.

13. Smoking and drinking!

Not that we’d like to suggest that you follow this particular piece advice, but the oldest ever person to live, was Jeanne Louise Calment and she lived to the age of 122 years and 64 days. This lady, who died in 1997, was born in 1875, she met Van Gogh, she saw the Eifel Tower being built, and she smoked cigarettes right up until she reached the age of 117. She also drank port wine every day and ate one kilogram of chocolate every week. It’s certainly not the usual secrets of longevity that you would get, but it worked for Jeanne Louise Calment!

14. Dr Pepper

Despite the fact that her doctor told her that her three a day Dr Pepper habit would eventually kill her, Elizabeth Sullivan from Fort Worth Texas turned 104 in 2015. She says that her secret of longevity, in addition to the three cans of Dr Pepper a day, is to just keep living life to the full.

15. Cornmeal and codfish

Puerto Rican Emiliano Mercado del Toro lived to see his 115th birthday as was one of the very few men to have been the oldest living person at one stage. He was a military veteran who was renowned for his sense of humour and for his love of women. He insisted that the reason that he had lived for so long was his love of funche, a traditional Puerto Rican, which is made of cornmeal and codfish.

16. Bacon

Like we said, we are not making any recommendations here, but in 2013, a woman who had lived to be 105 years old told everyone that one of her secrets of longevity was eating bacon every single day of her life. Pearl Cantrell had worked as a cotton picker and a hay baler and she raised eleven kids on her own too. When the bacon company, Oscar Mayer, heard about Pearl, they promised her free bacon portions for the rest of her life!

17. Friends and good cigar

Christian Mortensen was a Danish-American who lived until the age of 115. If you want to reach the same age as him, his secret of longevity is a mixture of things. He said that drinking lots of good water is important, as is staying positive. He also said the enjoying a cigar with friends and lots of singing had helped him live his long life.

18. Minding your own business

Besse Cooper, who lived to be 116 years and 100 days old, lived alone on a farm in Georgia until she was 105 years old and then she moved to a nursing home, where he stayed until she passed away in 2012. She was quite adamant that the reason that she had lived for so long was that she never ate junk food and she minded her own business. That, and hard work and treating people the same way that you would like them to treat you are her secrets of longevity.

19. Stegmaier beer

At the age of 100, Pauline Spagnola is a mere youngster when compared to some of the people on our list, but she is another that claims that her beer drinking habits have helped her reach her century. In her case, she drinks a couple of bottles of her favourite Stegmaier beer, which is brewed in a local brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, every day. The only time she misses her two beers a day is if the doctors say the he would interfere with her medication.

20. Playing cards

Alida Victoria Grubba Rudge is the oldest living person in Brazil and, at the last count, she was an impressive 112 years old. She is still alert and sharp and, while we don’t know her secrets of longevity, she has said that the reason that her mind is still so sharp is that regularly enjoys a game of cards with her friends.

21. Laughter

Bel Kaufman was a teacher and the author of the bestselling novel “Up the Down Staircase”. She was still teaching at college when she turned 100 years old when she said that she was simply too busy to get old. She said that she put her long life down to her sense of humour and her refusal to let anything make her feel sad. Her “laughter is the best medicine” approach to life certainty paid off, because she made it all the way through a grand old age of 103.

22. Staying calm

The oldest person ever to have lived in the United States was Sarah DeRemer Knauss, who lived to be 119 and three months. To give you an idea what it must be like to live that long, Knauss’s daughter was 96 when Knauss died. Her daughter explained the extraordinarily long life of her mother as being due to her never letting anything faze her.

23. Helping other people

Ruth Gruber is an American photographer, writer and humanitarian, and she is still going strong at the age of 104. Her amazing life story includes being responsible for bringing 1,000 Jewish refugees and wounded American soldiers out of Europe in 1944. She has used words and images all her life to benefit people in danger.

24. Don’t stay mad

Benjamin Goldfaden, who was born in 1913, was a professional basketball player who later went on to be a physical education teacher. He was physically active all the way through his long life and he made to 100 years old. When asked how he did it, he said: “Eat in a balanced way and don’t stay mad at anything”. He also said that staying close to his family was one of important secrets of longevity.

25. Do what you love

Leila Denmark was a pioneering American physician who didn’t retire until she was 103. She was the world’s oldest ever practicing pediatrician and she lived until she was 114 years and two months old. She said that one of her secrets of longevity was to eat well and to do only the things that you love. In fact, she said that work is only work if you are doing something that you don’t like. Otherwise, it is play.

26. Take your vitamins

Anthony Mancinelli, who lived to be 101, was officially recorded in the Guinness Book of World records as the world’s oldest barber. He started cutting hair at the age of 12 and he was still cutting when he reached his 99th birthday. He never drank alcohol and he never smoked, but he did say that you should take vitamins when you need a little bit of extra energy.

27. A good appetite

When Bonita Zigrang was in her prime, she was a vaudeville singer and dancer and her love of music stayed with her all of her long life. She loved going on cruises and her last adventure at sea was when she was 104 when she went on a cruise to Mexico with her four granddaughters. She died at the age of 110 and she believed that her secrets of longevity are a good appetite and a belief that everything would work out OK in the end.

28. Cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women

Henry William Allingham was a British veteran of World War One and World War Two and, for a period of time, was the oldest verified man living in the world. This amazing character had a simple recipe for longevity. It was cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women. We don’t recommend it though, he is rather an exception.

29. Not having children

Alexander Herbert Imich was born in 1903 and he lived to be 111 years old. He was and American parapsychologist and he wrote a number of books on the subject. His advice for anyone looking to live a long life was eating well and plenty of exercise. He also said that not ever having had children had helped him reach such an old age.

30. Do things that you’ve never done before

Lillian Modell was born in 1910 and she didn’t retire from work until she was 70 years old. Even then she stayed active by doing voluntary work for a number of different organisations. She died in 2011 and she had said that the reason that she made it past her 100th birthday was because she kept busy and she was always trying things that she had never tried before.

31. Curiosity

American business man, Irvin Khan, began working as an investment professional and carried on working right up until his death in February 2015. He was credited with being the oldest active money manager on Wall Street and he made his first ever trade just before the Wall Street crash of 1929. He said that to achieve long life, it is important to retain a curiosity about life and the world that we live in.

32. Don’t fight the day

Gussie Levine, who died aged 100 in 2011 in New York, was said to have been the consummate volunteer and she was working for charitable causes right up until the day she died. She also kept very active. At the age of 100, she walked on a treadmill three times a week and, between the ages of 70 and 100, she wrote three children’s books. She had no time for awkward people, she just ignored them. Her advice was to not fight the day and avoid any unnecessary drama.

33. Get involved

Staying active is a common theme with people that live to over 100 years of age and Murray Shusterman, aged 102, has been practicing law since 1936 and he is still making his daily commute to work. He says that the trick to a long life is to get involved and work hard. There will be disappointment as well as pleasure, he says, but if you participate, you will benefit from a much greater sense of achievement.

34. Don’t retire

Ebby Halliday was a businesswoman from Dallas, Texas, and she started her career working for $10 a week in selling hats in a Dallas store. In less than a year, she became the store’s top salesperson and it wasn’t after that she took over the entire department and then opened her own store. She lived until she was 104 and she insisted that her secret to a long life was not smoking, not drinking, and never retiring from work.

35. Take one day at a time

American war hero, Gilbert Herrick, was a postal worker who described himself as an ordinary person who never worries. He lived beyond his 100th birthday and, to show that life doesn’t stop just because you’ve been around for a few years, he married at the age of 99. He was very much a believer that his secrets of longevity are in taking one day at a time and, as he put it, going along with the tide.

36. Don’t complain

Jennie Cascone lived to be just one month shy of 101. Born in Sicily, she came to America in 1911, via Ellis Island. She worked in the garment district of Manhattan for fifty years, during which time, she learned to poke not only English, but also polish and Yiddish, so that she could help her co-workers learn English. She thought that her secrets of longevity and good life were not to complain, keep on working, and keep on having a good time.

37. Accept who you are

The average lifespan in America is 78.74 years of age, so we are going to include a few words of wisdom from people in their 90s too. Hilda Berner, aged 97, said how important she thinks it is to understand who you are and accept who you are.

38. Have a plan

At 96 years old, Irving Ladimer said that, for a long and healthy life, you need to set yourself goals and have a plan. It doesn’t matter whether that purpose in your life is your family, writing a book, or becoming the president of the US, but without a plan and a purpose, there is very little left.

39. Things are only hard if you make them hard

Loretta Hodge said, when she reached 102 years old, the best way to live a long and happy life is to be satisfied with what you have. Her advice is to not to worry so much because things are only hard when you make them hard.

40. Find a cause and knock yourself out

96 year old, Alyse Laemmle, expressed a sentiment that has been a common thread through most of these amazing people’s lives. She said that you need a cause to keep yourself going and, if you don’t have one, go out and find one. If you have a cause, it will keep you alert, give you an interest, and it will help keep you alive for longer.

Do you know other secrets of longevity?

Stay happy and healthy!

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