Doctors attribute longevity to a combination of diet, genetics, and environment, but they are yet to discover any one single factor that guarantees a long life, or even, for that matter, an early death. Substantial evidence exists that certain vices like cigarettes, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages are dangerous and have adverse health effects, but some of the world’s oldest people consume them regularly and live into their 100s.
While there are exceptions to every rule, there is more proof supporting the idea that a balanced diet, daily exercise routine, and strong social structures are the key to living a long life. The inhabitants of the so-called Blue Zones, as defined by Dan Buettner in his 2005 National Geographic cover piece, “Secrets of Long Life,” live in geographic areas with a population that has above-average life expectancies and one of world’s highest percentages of centenarians. Residents of Blue Zones often live well into their 90s and suffer fewer incidences of dementia, cancer, and heart disease than those in other areas.
But as mentioned, there are exceptions to every rule, and some of the oldest people in the world, whether in or out of Blue Zones, attribute their longevity to some rather bizarre and unexpected eating and drinking habits — ranging from a shot of whiskey in their morning coffee to a daily breakfast of raw eggs.
Here are the weird diet secrets of some of the world’s oldest people.
Eggs are a healthy breakfast, but should anyone besides Rocky Balboa be gulping them raw? Meet Emma Morano, the 117-year-old woman who currently holds the title of the world’s oldest person. She says that at the age of 20 she started eating two raw eggs a day after her doctor prescribed them to counter her anemia deficiency.
Miso Okawa, the Japanese supercentenarian, born in 1898, once said that the key to a long life was “eating delicious things.” Her diet included foods such as ramen noodles and beef stew, but a majority of her meals involved raw fish, especially mackerel sushi.
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Every morning, Susannah Mushatt Jones, who only recently passed away at the age of 116, ate a breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs. There was even a sign on her kitchen wall that read, “Bacon Makes Everything Better.” Besides bacon, Jones also attributed her longevity to not smoking or drinking, and to getting lots of sleep.
While never taking a sip of alcohol might be better for your health in the long run, there are many people who drink every day and live long and happy lives. It might be hard to believe, but Mariano “Pops” Rotelli, who is now 107, has said that his longevity and lack of medical complications could be attributed to spiking his morning coffee with a shot of whisky. “I’ve had a shot of whisky in my coffee every morning for 100 years,” said Rotelli. “I went to the doctor three times in 100 years. He’s dead. I’m still living.” It’s hard to argue with those results.