Have you ever wondered, what is the secret to longevity? Reaching the century mark is a milestone only a small percentage of the human population obtains. Indeed, only 0.0173 of the American population will reach this benchmark age. Usually when I see an interview with a centurion, I am surprised by both their lucidity and the sense of physical preservation they share and always pause to wonder, “How did they live to be a hundred?”
Let me tell you the story of Old Tom Parr who lived to be 152 years old. Tom Parr was born in 1493 in Shropshire, England and was a bachelor until the age of eighty. He married a much younger woman and fathered his first child at the age of 100. As penance, he was publicly shamed in the town square for fathering a child out of wedlock well past the age of 100. After outliving both his first wife and their children, who’d both died in infancy, he married the mother of his illegitimate child at age of 122.
By now, I’m sure you are shaking your head in wonderment and thinking, “How is this possible?”
It was said that Old Tom Parr (or Old Parr as he was known) dined on a diet of, “subrancid cheese, simple greens, onions and sour whey.” Hhmm…, sound familar. Cultured foods teaming with healthy bacteria in order to maintain a balance of normal gut flora.
But wait, the story justs gets better and better. Apparently, King Charles upon hearing about the amazing age and stamina of one of his subjects invited Old Parr to London for a two week celebration. Tom Parr was wined and dined and feted about the city, indulging in all manner of alcohol and fine foods, none of which he was not accustomed to eating. And guess what? He died.
For those of you who think I might be pulling your leg, Tom Parr is buried at Westminister Abbey. His portrait hangs in the Shrewesbury Museum and Art Gallery and a copy in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
An interesting story to say the least, but obviously not everyone will live to be a 152. However, there are a few commonalities among people who reach the century mark.
Genetics play a role in longetivity and many believe the theory that aging is strictly a natural, pre-ordained event.
Others believe it is a direct result of lifestyle choices which result in cellular damage over time.
Okinawa is the country with the highest number of inhabitants over the age of 100 and Japan is a close second.
Okinawans live on a diet heavy in gains, fish and vegetables and low on meats, eggs and dairy. They have strong familial ties and are physically active and incorporate spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation.
Individuals who subside on a Mediterranean style diet,
Healthy choices such as not smoking, limiting sun exposure and avoiding processed or overcooked foods can increase an individual’s longevity.
Other tips to increase longevity include:
So, whether you hope to live to be 100 or 152, make wise and healthy lifestyle choices every day for a happier life at any age!