How to Live 100 Years, According to the World’s Oldest People

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The world’s oldest living person right now is Kane Tanaka, a 116-year-old woman who lives in Japan. She has held the title since July of last year when 117-year-old Chiyo Mikayo passed away.

World’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, then and now [credit: Guinness World Records]

What’s the secret to such a long life? Well, Kane attributes her longevity to family, sleep, hope, and faith in God. Many other centenarians have been asked the same question, though, and given very different answers. Here’s some advice from the world’s oldest people about how to live a long, healthy life… though you may want to take some of it with a grain of salt.

Eat Well… Whatever That Means to You

Doctors have been telling us for decades that what we eat will affect our overall lifespan, so it may come as no surprise that some centenarians attribute their longevity to their diet. Alida Victoria Grubba Rudge — who lived to be 113 — recommended eating healthy, and Alimihan Seyiti, who claims to have been born in 1886, says she drinks lots of cold water and sticks to a mostly vegetarian diet.

But many of the world’s oldest people have some unexpected dietary advice. Pearl Cantrell attributed her 116 years to eating bacon every day; Elizabeth Sullivan, who lived to be 106, to drinking 3 Dr. Peppers a day; Agnes Fenton, who died at 112 years of age, to a daily dose of Miller High Life and Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Emiliano Mercado del Toro became the world’s oldest man in 2004 and kept the title for 3 years until his death at age 115, and he claimed that it was funche, a Puerto Rican dish made from cornmeal and codfish, that kept him alive so long.

Stay Single… or Not

Some centenarians, such Susannah Mushatt Jones (U.S., aged 116), Leandra Becerra Lumbreras (Mexico, aged 127), and Emma Morano (Italy, aged 117), claimed that staying single was a major factor in their longevity. Clara Meadmore, who lived to 108, claimed to be “too busy” for intimate relationships.

By contrast, Emiliano Mercado del Toro — mentioned above — partially attributes his long life to a love of women. Mbah Ghoto, who died at the astonishing age of 146, told NPR that he had a long life “because I have people that love me looking after me.”

Is it more than coincidence that there seems to be a gender divide on this issue? Perhaps: studies have shown that men live longer when they are married, while married women have the same life expectancy as unmarried women. Women who have strong female friendships, however, tend to live longer than those without.

Work Hard, Rest Hard

Jessie Gallan, who died at 109, started working as a milkmaid at age 13. She believed her lifelong work ethic contributed to her old age.

Jessie Gallan [credit: zeptha.com]

On the other hand, Leandra Becerra Lumbreras, mentioned above, also attributed her long life to a habit of sleeping for days on end. Kamato Hongo, who died at 116, would sleep so much her family sometimes fed her while she slept. Mary Francis Carruba, who turned 100 in 2015, says the secret to living longer is to “be lazy.”

Stick to Your Vices?

Several centenarians claim that it was smoking and alcohol that kept them healthy. Jeanne Calment, who lived 122 years, drank port wine, ate nearly a kilogram of chocolate each week, and smoked cigarettes from age 21 to 117. Batuli Lamichhane, who turned 116 last year, smokes a pack and a half every day and claims they helped her stay alive. Dorothy Parke said that her doctor claims that it was drinking that helped her reach her 100th birthday.

What do you think? Would you follow this advice? How long was the longest lifespan among your own relatives? Tell us in the comments!

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  • gus marsh


    June 30, 2019

    I go to the gym twice a week for about 2 hours each time.

  • Cindy ferguson (nee Mundell)


    November 7, 2019

    My great grandmother, Helen Wills, lived to the age of 96, died in 1949. Her granddaughter, Maureen Waddington, celebrated her 94th birthday on 27 September, 2019. She is my oldest living relative.

  • Scott


    November 7, 2019

    I think the common element amongst all of these is ‘consistency’
    No matter what you do, be consistent. I think the body does not adapt well to change.
    If you own a car that runs on gas/petrol, dont put diesel in it suddenly one day 🙂

  • John Chambers


    November 7, 2019

    Keep fit by playing sports as long as you can,work well beyond the so called retirement age .I did until I was 78….Use BUTTER, not the modern spreads…yuk….Eat MEAT, plenty of FISH and Vegetables.AND KEEP YOUR BRAIN ACTIVE…LEARN a new craft…PAINTING IS MY SUGGESTION…BE HAPPY AND BE KIND TO OTHERS AND ANIMALS..LOVE LIFE.

  • DR Wilson


    November 7, 2019

    If long life were completely random, then it seems that whoever happened to live long would tell you that whatever it was they did was the secret to long life, even if it was unrelated. I assume that there really are some things that help you live longer, but most of the advice shared here are the “surprising” things that probably aren’t actually true.

  • Brenda


    November 7, 2019

    One of my grandaunts passed away two years ago at 104.

  • joye Fuller


    November 7, 2019

    Hello, my mother, Dimple Ridley, who is 103 and 10 months on November 9, 2019 says she thinks keeping busy, (she always was knitting or crocheting) working in the garden, eating the fresh vegetables from the garden; eating a low/no salt diet, eating peanut butter and cooking in a cast iron skillet–these are the things that have contributed to her long and healthy life.. She had always had a garden and only this year that she wasn’t able to actually work much in her garden — we put her tomato plants and peppers in pots.. and had a huge flower garden instead of other vegetables (except she has 3 HUGE squash/pumpkins??? not sure if they are a hybrid but they are gorgeous and we will make soup from them… She is happily living at home, watching her birds at the bird feeder, enjoying helping to make desserts and omelets.. She loves to visit with her newly found 3rd cousins from DNA testing since all her family has passed away.. We find something for which we are grateful each day. Her sense of humor is delightful..

  • Eileen


    November 8, 2019

    none of that seems to be the answer for me

  • Crotchety old dude


    November 8, 2019

    The only ones who want to live to be 100 are the 99 year olds.

  • Mary


    November 9, 2019

    Maybe it’s what type of booze you drink. Doctors are finding more and more benefits of drinking wine. Of course, the amount has to be moderate enough to keep the liver healthy (and keep you out of bar fights).