Clifford Crozier, born in 1915; Emilia Tereza Harper, born in 1913; and John Millington Denerley, born in 1914, are three centenarians interviewed by LifeHunters. Each has his or her own story but there are common threads to learn from them as Dr Joseph Mercola explains.
In all three, positivity and strength are certainly apparent, along with a will to live and a continued interest in and curiosity about the world around them. Even as times changed, these people kept on living, adapting to and welcoming the new phases of their lives. It’s this fortitude and emotional resilience that has likely played a major role in their longevity.
Emotional resilience and optimism help you stay young at heart
Each of the centenarians in the video looks far younger than their chronological years and they certainly don’t act their age (who knows how a 100-year-old is “supposed” to act anyway). Their positive attitudes undoubtedly are to credit for helping them stay young at heart and research backs this up.
In a study of 100 seniors (average age of 81), those who were exposed to implicit positive messages (words like creative, spry and fit) experienced gains in their physical strength.
It’s evidence that your mind truly does have power over your body and all the centenarians interviewed exemplify this. If you believe your body and mind will fail you as you age, it may very well follow suit.
But the opposite also holds true, especially if your positive mindset is combined with the basic requirements for healthy living (like good sleep, fresh healthy food and staying active).
The majority of centenarians report feeling about 20 years younger than their chronological ages and their mindset has a lot to do with this self-perception.
Though Denerley is 102, for instance, he states that he feels like he’s 69 or 79. There’s a good chance, too, that if you were to evaluate his biological age, it would be closer to how he feels than to his actual chronological age.
Interestingly, experts also agree that using acceptable biomarkers to determine biological age (such as blood pressure, muscle power, skeletal mass and fitness indicators) would be a better indicator of lifespan than chronological age.
Centenarians eat real food
Notably, none of the centenarians were self-proclaimed health nuts, but they do understand the value of eating real food. There was no other option when they were born, after all. As Harper noted, she grew up eating home-cooked food. What else was there?
And more than that, her family grew their own food as well. Everything they ate was taken fresh from their garden, prepared and then put onto their plates.
In 2017, the notion of eating home-grown, home-cooked food has become more of a novelty than a norm for many people, but reverting back to this traditional way of eating is the best route to health and longevity.
The simple act of eating whole food is a theme common to centenarians (even if their diets aren’t “perfect,” like Crozier’s apparent fondness for whiskey on occasion).
Emma Morano, who at 116, is the oldest person in the world, similarly shared with news outlets one of her dietary secrets: three eggs (two of them raw) and raw minced meat daily.
Aside from what to eat, many centenarians also mention the importance of variations of intermittent fasting i.e. not overeating, eating only once a day or, in Morano’s case, having only a light dinner.
In Okinawa, Japan, which has an unusually high concentration of people who live to 100 and beyond, hara hachi bu or eating until you’re only 80 percent full, is said to be an important factor in longevity.
Strong relationships, fond memories and living in the moment
Another common thread among the centenarian trio: Strong, positive relationships. Each spoke fondly of their marriages though their spouses passed on decades earlier. Each also was able to look back on their life experiences and relationships with appreciation and gratitude.
This, too, is backed up by science, with research showing that the types of social relationships someone enjoys — or doesn’t — can actually put them at risk for premature death. In fact, researchers found a 50 percent increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships.
Harper, in particular, explained that she was able to live happily because she had a lifetime of memories to fall back on. It’s important to remember this — that experiences tend to make us happier than possessions.
The “newness” of possessions wears off, as does the joy they bring you, but experiences improve your sense of vitality and “being alive” both during the experience and when you reflect back on it.
In addition, most centenarians, regardless of their health status, tend to have positive attitudes, optimism and a zest for life. In the video, you’ll notice the trio make mention of living in the moment, living for the day and having no regrets.
These are people who, despite having more than 100 years of “past,” are living very much in the present, not dwelling on what they have lost but appreciating all the living they have done (and have yet to do).
It’s also noteworthy that none of them has plans to go anytime soon. Each speaks of feeling strong and expects to continue living each day to its fullest. They are active — physically, mentally and socially. This, too, will only help them to stay young and healthy.
Being a lifelong learner is linked to longevity
It’s interesting that Denerley mentioned if he had one regret it would be not taking his studies seriously enough early on. He recommended getting an education early in life as a crucial point and this, too, is correlated with a longer life.
People with a bachelor’s degree or higher tend to live about nine years longer than people who don’t graduate from high school, according to a U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Centre for Health Statistics report. This is likely, in part, because educated people may get better jobs, plan more for their future or lead healthier lifestyles. However, having a natural curiosity about life and a desire to keep learning likely also plays a role in the longevity connection.