The Secrets to a Long Life Aren’t Really Very Secret

As the oldest woman in the world, 116-year-old Emma Morano credits her long life to a breakfast of two raw eggs every day. She also credits her longevity to staying single. She walked away from her marriage when she was 38 years old, and she’s been single ever since. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she said.

What sustains some people to live over a century, while others struggle with poor health? With some swearing by service or beer for breakfast, there are consistencies in the lives of centenarians. And some of them may surprise you.

SOCIALIZING

The fate of loneliness among today’s seniors is well documented. Aged adults who lack companionship suffer from isolation, depression, malnutrition and increased rates of mortality. But seniors who socialize enjoy a life of purpose and good health.

“Support from others can be important in reducing stress, increasing physical health and defeating psychological problems such as depression and anxiety,” wrote the staff at the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens Inc.

DIET

Although many centenarians swear by their daily intake of doughnuts, wine and bacon, many enjoy extended health by avoiding certain foods. At 107 years old, Bea Payne is the oldest woman in Utah. Her secret is eating small portions of red meat, and she never drinks soda.

GENETICS

Scientists estimate lifespan by measuring telomeres, which are the end caps of chromosomes that are linked to aging. Researchers believe our life span is averaged by the length of the telomeres, and these protective caps on chromosomes shorten as we age. But scientists have discovered an enzyme called telomerase that can slow the telomere shortening. Adopting a few changes, like reducing stress and weight, increasing or starting to exercise, and eating a healthy diet, can help lengthen the telomeres.

ACTIVE LIFESTYLE

Hobbies and service give life more meaning and add motivation to continue living a quality life. Author Christine Carter wrote that people 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have a 44 percent lower likelihood of dying early. “And that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and much more.”

GOOD ATTITUDE

“I don’t think there is one secret to longevity, but I have seen the difference a good attitude and living a life with purpose can make on an individual’s quality of life,” said Jim Morrison, executive director of Redmond Care & Rehabilitation Center. “So if there is a secret to living a good life, it’s loving the life you have and making the most of it every day.”

The truth is, the secret of a long life may not be a secret at all. By engaging in positive social interactions, eating healthy foods, being blessed with strong genes, staying active and appreciating all that life has given you, people already possess the keys to living a long and happy life.

This article was previously published by the OC Register and republished here with permission.