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10 Secrets to a Long Life From People Who’ve Lived to 100

10 Secrets to a Long Life From People Who’ve Lived to 100

This is a true story. On the day my Great Grandma died (at 97), she awoke to mow her lawn and complete her chores for the day. When she was finished, she came inside, baked two pies, cracked a beer (she drank a half-can of beer every single day, claiming it was her magical elixir), lit a cigarette, and had just called my Grandma when her heart finally gave out. She was a bull, a beautiful goddamn bull.

Everyone has that one relative… That one fossil who, despite years of a diet rich in fat, cigarettes, and scotch, somehow managed to live way, way longer than modern medicine could account for. You’d never even understand why—or how—but it was almost like they lived so long just to spite life itself.

So what’s the secret? From boiled cod to raw honey and whiskey, here are the 10 keys to a long and happy life, according to the people who swore by them:

Do bad shit, have more fun.

Ralph Burgess Tarrant, a 110-year-old British man and former insurance salesman—until his retirement in 1968—said the secret to long life was to, “enjoy vices as well as much as virtues,” and to, “stay active and stay interested.” To us, that’s just a nice way of saying, “Do bad shit, have more fun.” (via)

If a strange man in India offers you an “Elixir,” drink it.

Reg Dean, another 110-year-old Brit and life-long minister, lived through two World Wars. Right before WWI, while in India, he did a favor for one of the locals. The unknown man gave Dean a strange, muddy elixir, and said that if he drank it, he’d live ‘til at least 100 years old. He drank it and, lo and behold, lived to see his 110th birthday. (via)

Eat smaller portions of food.

Jiroemon Kimura was a Japanese communications worker and post office worker. When he retired at the age of 65, he became a farmer, and did that until he was 90 years old. Kimura made it all the way to 116 before he passed away, and when asked what he felt the key to a long, healthy life was, his only answer was to eat food in smaller portions. No drugs, sex, and rock and roll here, just food in small portions.

Which begs the question: Live fast and die young, or take it easy and fade quietly into the night? (via)

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Also, extra virgin olive oil rubdowns.

Jeanne Louise Calment was born in France and, to this day, is the oldest person ever, having died in 1997 at 122 years old. Her secret? Calment, a wealthy Frenchwoman, worried as little as possible—about anything. Unlike Kimura, she smoked two cigarettes a day for a 100 years, drank Port wine relentlessly, and told reporters she would eat two pounds of chocolate—weekly.

But she didn’t care. She didn’t make an attempt to stay fit, or exercise, or do any kind of preventative activities that would help her stay alive longer. In fact, she was credited with saying, “If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.” Couple her carefree attitude with her consistent extra virgin olive oil body rubs, and she holds the record for literally the oldest person ever. Oh, yeah, and she quit smoking at 119, three years before her death. Not because of health reasons, but because she was so blind, at that point, that she couldn’t see the tip of a cigarette in between her lips, and didn’t want to burn herself. (via)

A fine [Danish] cigar.

Christian Mortensen is our kind of guy. Born in December of 1882, he was one of the oldest human beings ever recorded. Before he passed away in April of 1998 (at the age of 115!), he was asked what his secret to a long life was. His answer was to live a “good, clean life,” filled with friends, pure water, a fine Danish cigar, no alcohol, and a lot of singing. Put all those things together and, according to Mortensen, you’ll live for a very long time. (via)

Mind your own damn business.

Before her death at 116 years old, Tennessee-born schoolteacher Besse Cooper told Guinness World Records the secret to a long life—aside from abstaining from junk food, naturally—is minding your own business. We’d be willing to bet there are quite a few dead men out there who’d wished they’d heeded that advice, eh? (via)

Eat bacon.

Ha! Finally! Validation! Out of all the people mentioned on this list so far, Susannah Mushatt Jones, presently 116 years old, is the only person still actually alive. Her secret? Jones has no vices. She doesn’t drink, never really partied, or did anything wild. Hell, she never even wore makeup. What she swears by, however, is a wholesome breakfast of eggs, grits, and no less than four strips of bacon, every single day. (via)

Stay positive, eat eggs, and drink your own homemade brandy.

We love this advice from 116-year-old Italian-born Emma Morano, the oldest living woman in Europe (and second in the world, behind Ms. Jones), who says that her keys to her health are three eggs a day, a positive outlook on the future, and daily sampling of homemade brandy—along with the occasional bit of chocolate, because life without chocolate is probably a lot like death. So go make yourself a Denver omelet, a Metropolitan, and smile! We’re on our way to the kitchen now. (via)

Eat raw honey.

There are many benefits to eating at least one tablespoon of raw honey per day, including allergy relief, antioxidants, digestive issue relief, etc. It doesn’t surprise us that, when 113-year-old Fred H. Hale, Sr.—who surfed for the first time at age 95, went to Europe at 100 to visit the locations his son fought at during the Second World War, and stopped driving at 108 (not because of his health, but because he found slow drivers to be too annoying)—was asked what his secret to a long life was, his answer was raw honey and bee pollen (and the occasional nip of whiskey). (via)


Emiliano Mercado del Toro was a Puerto Rican native who was so old that he actually remembered the Spanish-American War. Like, he was alive for it, back in 1898. Before his death in 2007 at the age of 115, he said he owed it all to funche. So what’s funche? It’s a mix of boiled cod, cornmeal, and coconut milk. If given the choice between death and funche, we’d probably choose death, from the sounds of it. But hey! To each their own! (via)

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