When you think of living long into old age, which age do you imagine? Most of us probably consider old age living well into our 80s or maybe even our 90s. Few of us, however, imagine making it to a century, and especially not more than a decade past that. Emma Morano, however, lived almost two decades longer than 100, dying at the ripe old age of 117. Only enlisting aid in her home a couple of years before she died, the question remains: What allowed this woman to not only live so long, but also so robustly? This is the story of the world’s oldest woman and what she attributed to her longevity.
Emma Morano: The World’s Oldest Woman
Emma Morano, the world’s oldest person, lived a remarkable life that spanned over a century. Born in 1899 in the Piedmont region of Italy, she achieved the title of the last surviving person born in the 1800s. Emma’s longevity has fascinated many, and one of the contributing factors to her remarkable age was her strict and consistent diet. Let’s dive into Emma Morano’s extraordinary life and explore the secrets behind her longevity.
Emma Morano’s Life and Diet
Emma Morano, known for her spunky personality and resilience, overcame numerous hardships, including an abusive marriage, the loss of her only child, and the trials of two World Wars. She attributed her longevity to two factors: avoiding men and adhering to a strict diet. Emma’s decision to stay single after an unsatisfactory marriage played a role in her ability to reach such an advanced age. However, she also believed that her diet contributed significantly to her health and vitality. (1)
Like many women of that time, Emma was forced into marriage. She did love one man in her lifetime who she would have wanted to marry. Sadly, however, he died in the first world war. It was after this that a man who lived in her neighborhood forced her to marry him.
“He was someone from here, from the lake. I didn’t want to marry him, but he forced me. We lived in the same courtyard and one day he sent his mother to call me,” she explained to the Italian newspaper La Stampa in a 2011 interview. “I went there and he said to me, ‘If it suits you, you can marry me, if not I’ll kill you’. I was 26 years old. I got married.”
Emma Morano’s daily diet was quite specific and remained consistent throughout her life. She consumed three eggs each day, two of which she ate raw, starting this habit after being diagnosed with anemia following World War I. Alongside her eggs, she drank a traditional Italian alcoholic beverage called grappa, which she prepared with herbs and grapes. Emma emphasized the importance of digestion, claiming that her unique concoction aided in this process.
“I eat three eggs a day and to digest I drink the grappa that I prepare myself: I put it in a jar with seven sage leaves, a bunch of rue grass and some grapes. Then I drink it with a spoon.” Emma said.
Her doctor said that he, too, was baffled by the woman’s diet. Despite Rarely eating vegetables or even fruit, it seemed to work brilliantly for her. She was one of his healthiest, and of course he was her longest-running patient.
“When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morning and then an omelet at noon, and chicken at dinner,” her doctor mused.
Genetics On Her Side
Furthermore, Emma acknowledged the impact of genetics on her longevity. Her mother lived to the age of 91, and some of her sisters also reached their 100th birthdays. This helps to bring more understanding as to why some people live longer than others – much of it does come down to genetics. That, and, of course, the lack of stress staying single after her abusive marriage would have brought her.
Current Insights on Longevity
Emma Morano’s exceptional age raises questions about the factors contributing to long and healthy lives. While individual circumstances vary, certain regions are known to have a higher concentration of centenarians, providing valuable insights into the secrets of long life.
One such example is the island of Okinawa, Japan, renowned for its high number of centenarians. The Okinawan people attribute their long life expectancy to a combination of factors, including a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and legumes, low-stress lifestyles, regular physical activity, and strong social connections. Additionally, the concept of “ikigai” (finding a sense of purpose) plays a significant role in their wellbeing. (2)
The inhabitants of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica also boast impressive longevity rates. Their lifestyle is characterized by an active daily routine, a diet rich in beans, corn, and tropical fruits, and strong community bonds. The emphasis on family and interconnectedness contributes to their overall sense of happiness and contentment, which likely contributes to their long lives.
Furthermore, the people of Sardinia, Italy, show remarkable rates of long life. Their diet, known as the Mediterranean diet, focuses on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil. Their lifestyle also promotes regular physical activity, social engagement, and a strong sense of purpose.
An Inspiring Life Lived
Emma Morano’s extraordinary life serves as an inspiration and a testament to the potential of a healthy lifestyle and diet. Her choice to stay single and adhere to a consistent diet of eggs and grappa showcases the significance of personalized choices in promoting longevity. Coupled with current insights into regions known for their long-living populations, we can draw valuable lessons for promoting healthy and fulfilling lives.
As we continue to unravel the mysteries of living longer, incorporating a balanced diet, staying physically active, fostering meaningful relationships, and finding purpose may hold the keys to a longer and more fulfilling life for many individuals. Ultimately, making conscious choices and embracing a holistic approach to health and wellbeing can empower individuals to lead vibrant lives well into their golden years.