How to live to 100: From eating pigs’ feet to 30 cigarettes a day

Imagine being born in a time before electric lights, television, phones and cars were normal and living through two world wars – and still being alive in 2018.

Richard Overton, a 112-year-old from Texas, has done just this and, staggeringly, he credits his survival to up to 12 cigars and four glasses of whiskey every day.

Living to be older than 100 is rare but becoming more common – the UN expects there to be 3.2 million centenarians worldwide by 2050, up from 316,600 in 2012.

And, according to a website that trawled through interviews with 100 people who reached the landmark birthday, the secret to surviving may not just be a healthy diet.

A pint of Guinness every day, eating pigs’ feet and kicking out your husband are all genuine nuggets of wisdom from people who have lived to 100 and beyond.

Richard Overton, a 112-year-old World War II veteran from Texas, is thought to be the oldest living man in the US and credits his long life to cigars, whiskey and ice cream

Richard Overton, a 112-year-old World War II veteran from Texas, is thought to be the oldest living man in the US and credits his long life to cigars, whiskey and ice cream

US senior citizens’ advice website, A Place for Mom, searched through newspaper interviews with the world’s oldest people to pick out their tips for living for so long.

On the list of people offering their wisdom was Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 as the oldest woman ever at the age of 122.

And above her, Leandra Becerra Lumbreras, a Mexican woman who died in 2015 claiming to be 127 years old – though her birth date was never confirmed.

While a quarter of centenarians credit a healthy diet for their long lives, even more of them – 29 per cent – recommend indulging in unhealthy treats like greasy breakfasts and fizzy drinks.

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122, was the oldest women ever and credited her staggeringly long life to olive oil, chocolate, cigarettes and wine (pictured: Ms Calment on her 117th birthday)

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122, was the oldest women ever and credited her staggeringly long life to olive oil, chocolate, cigarettes and wine (pictured: Ms Calment on her 117th birthday)

Italian woman Emma Morano, who died in 2017 aged 117, said she owed her long life to 'kicking her husband out and never marrying again'

Italian woman Emma Morano, who died in 2017 aged 117, said she owed her long life to ‘kicking her husband out and never marrying again’

And exercise isn’t a popular habit among the super-aged either – only 21 per cent of them said regular workouts were what kept them ticking over.

THE STRANGEST SECRETS TO LIVING A LONG LIFE 

Out of 100 people aged over 100 who were interviewed about their secrets to living a long life, these were some of the strangest and least expected:

  • Sleeping for days on end and avoiding marriage
  • Olive oil, chocolate, wine and cigarettes
  • Kicking husband out and never marrying again
  • Coca Cola
  • Pop’ems glazed doughnut holes
  • Eating plenty of pigs’ feet
  • No make-up
  • Plenty of exercise and butter
  • Going with the flow
  • Never marrying or having children
  • Eating sweets
  • No dieting or sports
  • 30 cigarettes a day
  • 12 cigars and 4 glasses of whiskey a day
  • 4 strips of bacon every morning
  • Chewing food properly
  • 5-7 push-ups a day 
  • Full English breakfast every day
  • Whiskey with tea in the morning and whiskey with lemonade in the evening
  • Diet Coke
  • 3 cans of Dr Pepper a day
  • Eating once a day and lots of women
  • Peanut butter M&Ms
  • Naps
  • Having sex
  • Keeping up with daily news
  • A daily pint of Guinness

Source: A Place for Mom 

The 10 most common tips for ageing gracefully were predictable enough – watch what you eat, stay active and maintain relationships.

But many of the centenarians’ suggestions were downright rebellious.

Ms Calment – who was married for 46 years and then lived for another 55 years after her husband died – credited olive oil, wine, cigarettes and chocolate for living so long. 

Mr Overton, a World War II veteran who is thought to be the oldest living man in the US, says ice cream also helped increase his lifespan, alongside the cigars and bourbon. 

Emma Morano, an Italian woman who lived to 117 before dying last year, said she owed her long life to kicking her husband out and never marrying again.

Jeralean Talley, from Michigan, lived to 115 thanks to ‘eating plenty of pigs’ feet’. 

Other people’s unlikely fountains of youth have included Pop’Ems glazed donut holes, ‘going with the flow’, 30 cigarettes a day, five to seven push-ups a day, and a daily pint of Guinness.

Sex made an appearance on the list, too – and Vincenzo Baratta, an Italian who lived to 103, said eating once a day and ‘lots of women’ were his secrets.

The consensus is there’s no sure-fire way to live for a long time and for every person who recommends drinking wine there will be someone who says the opposite.

Dr David Demko, a gerontologist – someone who studies the science of ageing – said: ‘Our genetic makeup and lifestyle habits influence longevity, but the impact each element plays is a hotly debated topic.

‘The current ratio suggests that genetic risk factors control 25 per cent and lifestyle risk-factors control 75 per cent, but this ratio fluctuates in line with new research on factors reported to reduce risks to morbidity and mortality.

‘Regardless of the precise weighting of this ratio, it’s clear that a long life boils down to far more than simply smart genes and dumb luck.’ 

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL TIPS FOR LIVING FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, FROM THE WORLD’S OLDEST PEOPLE (Source: A Place for Mom)
Age Name Location Longevity secrets
127 Leandra Becerra Lumbreras Mexico Chocolate, avoiding marriage, sleeping for days on end
122 Jeanne Louise Calment France Olive oil, chocolate, wine, cigarettes
119 Sarah Knauss Pennsylvania No stress, not worrying about age
117 Emma Morano Italy 3 eggs a day (2 of them raw), kicking husband out and never marrying again
117 Violet Brown Jamaica Faith, healthy diet with coconut sauce, fish and mutton
117 Nabi Tajima Japan Delicious food, sleeping well
117 Chiyo Miyako Japan Delicious food including sushi and eels
117 Misao Okawa Japan Sushi, ramen noodles, sleeping for 8 hours, relaxing
116 Gertrude Weaver Arkansas Kindness, positive attitude, sleep, no drinking or smoking
116 Jiroemon Kimura Japan Eating lightly
116 Susannah Mushatt Jones New York Supportive extended family
116 Besse Cooper Tennessee Staying out of others’ business, no junk food
115 Boxin Huang China Vegetables with every meal (including breakfast)
115 Tava Colo France Respecting others
115 Evangelia Karnava Greece Coca-Cola
115 Dina Manfredini Iowa Making bread and pasta
115 Maria Giuseppa Robucci Italy No alcohol, no smoking, eating lightly and healthily
115 Kane Tanaka Japan Family, sleep, hope
115 Bernice Madigan Massachusets No children, no stress, breakfast of honey, Eggos, banana and 4 Pop?ems glazed doughnut holes
115 Jeralean Talley Michigan “Do unto others as you desire them to do unto you”, faith in God, eating plenty of pigs? feet
115 Ana Maria Vela Rubio Spain Positive attitude, compassion for others
114 Adelina Domingues California Religion, no makeup, no drinking or smoking
114 Eudoxi Baboul French Guiana Eating lots of couac (cassava-based semolina)
114 Neva Morris Iowa Working hard, eating hearty, healthy meals prepared from farm produce
114 Yukichi Chuganji Japan Drinking milk every day, avoiding alcohol
113 Mariya Kononovich Belarus Being kind to others, loving everyone, no enemies
113 Maggie Kidd Georgia Faith in God
113 Goldie Michelson Massachusetts Morning walks, chocolate, never smoking or drinking
113 Adele Dunlap New Jersey Oatmeal
113 Francisco Nunez Olivera Spain Working hard, eating home-grown vegetables, daily glass of red wine
113 Bessie Camm United Kingdom Hard work, lovely people, good food
112 Peg Vivian Australia Never smoking, rarely drinking, walking a lot
112 Ellen Gibb Canada Good genes, no drinking or smoking, plenty of exercise and butter
112 Isabel Casta¤o Restrepo Florida Going with the flow
112 Jeanne Bot France Never marrying or having children
112 Gustav Gerneth Germany No dieting, no sports, drinking only on special occasions
112 Masazo Nonaka Japan Soaking in hot springs, eating sweets
112 Yasutaro Kode Japan Taking it easy
112 Batuli Lamichhane Nepal 30 cigarettes a day
112 Salustanio Sanches-Blazquez Spain 1 banana and 6 Anacin tablets a day
111 Bernardo LaPallo Arizona Practicing moderation, sleeping well, keeping stress away, fresh fruits and vegetables
111 Merle Phillips Illinois Faith in God
111 Alelia Murphy New York Kindness of God
111 Alexander Imich New York Healthy diet including chicken and fish, abstaining from alcohol
111 Richard Overton Texas 12 cigars a day, 4 glasses of whiskey in the morning, butter pecan ice cream every night
111 Grace Katherine Jones United Kingdom A little drop of whiskey every night
110 Marguerite Robertson Canada Eating well, avoiding milk, being loved
110 Agnes Fenton New Jersey 3 bottles of Miller High Life and a glass of whiskey daily
109 Alfred Date Australia Staying out of trouble, waking up every morning
109 Ruth Benjamin Illinois 4 strips of bacon every morning, no smoking, no drinking, 43-year marriage
109 Mohammed Mohyeddin Iran Regular exercise, chewing food properly
109 Jessie Gallan United Kingdom Exercise, daily bowl of porridge, staying away from men
108 Alice Herz-Sommer Czech Republic Laughter, optimism
108 Downing Jett Kay Maryland Spending time with family and friends, participating in local church and community
108 Duranord Veillard New York 5-7 pushups a day, drinking tea, eating oatmeal, fish and vegetables
108 Eric Gottfrid Andersson Sweden Taking care of your body, eating good food, not smoking
108 John Mansfield United Kingdom Full English breakfast with fried eggs and sausages every day
107 Jo Sunderland Minnesota Don?t worry, be happy
106 Irene Cole Texas Positive lifestyle, staying single, abstaining from smoking and alcohol
105 Francis Smith Florida Keeping active, moving to Florida
105 Marian Cannon Schlesinger Massachusetts Coffee in the morning, liquor in the evening
105 Lucille Boston Lewis Tennessee Faith, family, working hard, loving others
105 Pearl Cantrell Texas Bacon with every meal
105 Jack Reynolds United Kingdom Whiskey with tea in the morning, whiskey with lemonade at night
104 Theresa Rowley Michigan Drinking a Diet Coke every day
104 Mildred Bowers South Carolina Beer
104 Charlotte Henderson Texas Practising moderation, eating and sleeping well, not overdrinking or overeating, exercising regularly
104 Elizabeth Sullivan Texas 3 cans of Dr Pepper a day
104 Pauline Dunhill United Kingdom Gin and tonic every evening
103 Samuel Henry Ball Florida Good marriage, whiskey
103 Vincenzo Baratta Italy Eating once a day, lots of women
103 Imogen Young Maryland Peanut butter M&Ms, bacon, eggs, ice cream
103 Ruth Coben New York Exercise, celebrate every day
103 Mary Todisco New York Low-sugar diet, keeping busy, staying positive, not taking life too seriously
103 George Boggess Washington, DC Walking
102 Elsa Bailey Colorado Sunshine, eating healthily
102 Dorothy Custer Idaho Daily exercise
102 Edris Mathiesen Indiana Crossword puzzles, reading, playing cards
102 Eunice Modlin Indiana 2 dark chocolates a day, naps
101 Paul Marcus Colorado Genes, luck, unrestricted diet
101 Antonio Ramirez Florida Happiness, staying calm, no anger, coffee every morning
101 Luigina Vigiconte Italy Optimism, politeness
101 Bel Kaufman New York Laughter
100 Ephraim Engleman California Falling in love, getting married, having sex
100 Norma Martin Florida Being optimistic
100 Marie-Louise Wirth France No fruit or milk, alcohol with every meal
100 Gregoris Tsahas Greece Couple of glasses of red wine every day
100 Art Stieglieter Illinois Coffee
100 Florence Bearse Maine A good glass of wine
100 Dorothy Cammon New Mexico Working hard, getting enough sleep
100 Emanuel Chuse New York Keeping up with daily news
100 Malvina Hunt New York Vigorous exercise
100 Elsie King New Zealand Keeping occupied with hobbies
100 Paulina Spagnola Pennsylvania Drinking alcohol
100 Christina Kislak Wahala Pennsylvania Walking a lot, fresh fruit and vegetables
100 Frances Prus Pennsylvania Family, faith, occasional junk food, glass of merlot
100 John Grumbine Pennsylvania Dancing
100 Orville Rogers Texas Running
100 Rebecca Sommerville United Kingdom Laughter, not taking things too seriously
100 Doris Olive Netting United Kingdom Daily pint of Guinness

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