An article by the Associated Press caught my eye yesterday… a story about 116 year-old Emma Morano. She is the world’s oldest person and the only known person alive today born in the 1800s!
116 years old!
She still lives alone in Verbania, a small northern Italian mountain town overlooking Lago Maggiore. She has a caregiver and never leaves her apartment… but is still quite feisty, does her housework, and is “with it”.
To what does she attribute her longevity? A quart of gin and a pack of cigarettes a day?
Hardly. She eats two eggs every day, all while surviving the cholesterol scare of the past twenty years. She has some good genetics. And she has a very positive attitude.
Emma is not alone in the realm of centenarians in Italy. Many Italians, particularly on the island of Sardinia, live past the age of 100. Gerontologists are studying these folks in an attempt to determine why they live so long.
I’ll hypothesise what they will find. The majority will:
- eat a Mediterranean-type diet, rich in olive oil, unprocessed foods, and seafood;
- be very socially active, constantly surrounded by friends and family;
- lead an active life, as many Italians do, walking the hilly terrain and performing the ritual evening passeggiata;
- have good sleep habits; and
- have a positive outlook on life.
While good genetics provide a solid base for longevity, simple and consistent lifestyle choices also have a dramatic impact on how long we live. Not only can these habits translate into a longer life, they will most certainly add significantly to its quality.
And at the end of the day, don’t we all want to sign off acknowledging we have completed a life well lived, with our health and wits about us until the end?