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Centenarian Study - Secrets to a Long Life

Updated on February 8, 2011

Definition: What is a Centenarian?

The definition of a centenarian is a person who has reached their hundredth birthday. A super-centenarian is a person who has made it to age 110. In the United States, the odds of living to be a centenarian is 1 in 4400. In Japan, the odds are 1 in 3522 (and 1 in 1838 in Okinawa). Only 1 in a 1000 centenarians will become a super-centenarian.

There are over 70,000 centenarians in the United States and over 44,000 centenarians in Japan. The number of centenarians in the world has been rapidly increasing due to better medical care and treatment. Centenarians have probably existed for thousands of years. Germany had 232 centenarians in 1885 and most European countries had around a dozen centenarians at the beginning of the 20th century.

Habits of Centenarians

There have been several studies done with centenarians to find common characteristics among them. Some of these studies suggest that living to be a centenarian is about 25% genetics with the rest being environmental factors. This suggests that you have control over about 75% of the factors important to becoming a centenarian.

  • Genetics: FOX03A gene is different. Aging of cardiovascular system is slower.
  • Weight and Diet: Most centenarians eat lightly and tend to be skinny. The foods they eat are mostly grains,vegetables and fish. They avoid other meats and dairy products.
  • Active Lifestyle: They keep busy doing light activities like walking and gardening.
  • Social Network: They have a lot of social contacts are active members of the community.
  • Spiritual Life: A low stress life that emphasizes a spirituality like meditation or praying.
  • No Smoking: This is a given for almost anyone who makes it past a hundred years.

Interesting Centenarian Facts

Here are some interesting facts about centenarians that may have had an effect on their extreme longevity. You will see that there are a few exceptions to their common factors, which just goes to show that there are many ways to live past a hundred years:

  • People who have survived a very stressful period of life are more likely to become a centenarian. On the other hand, poor nutrition as a child will reduce your odds of making it to your hundredth birthday.
  • Mariam Amash lived to be over 120. She mostly ate vegetables, drank a glass of olive oil every day, and walked frequently. She ate chocolate and drank red wine.
  • The super-centenarian Hryhory Nestor was never married. He drinks milk, eats cheese and potatoes, and has an occasional shot of vodka.
  • Gertrude Baines of Los Angeles lived to be 115 on a diet of bacon, chicken, and ice cream.
  • Edna Parker of Indiana died at age 115. She lived on a diet of eggs, sausage, bacon and fried chicken.
  • Walter Breuning, age 113, has eaten only two meals per day over the last 35 years. He weighs 125 pounds at 5'8". He believes in eating very moderately.
  • Most female centenarians have never been married. However, centena¬≠rian Wook Kundor of Malaysia, keeps an active social life by outliving her husbands. She is currently on her 23rd husband. 70 years her junior, she maystill outlive him. The police have recently informed her that he is a heroin addict.
  • First born daughters are 3 times as likely to become centenarians, while first born sons are twice as likely to make it to their hundredth birthday.
  • One study in Denmark showed that active levels of glutathione reductase in the red blood cells of centenarians was higher than normal.

Centenarian Eating Styles

Although diets differ to a great degree amongst centenarians, research shows that healthy fats (especially olive oil), plenty of vegetables, oily fish, and low glycemic index foods should be the foundation of your diet. Note that this type of diet is similar to a Mediterranean diet. You should eat only about 80% of the amount of food necessary to make you feel full.

The other technique for diet control is to eat only one main meal per day. All centenarians have a low BMI (body mass index) and a waist size less than half their height. Most centenarians not only eat healthy foods, but limit their calorie consumption.

For more information on living a long and healthy life, check out these hubs:

Mastering Longevity - Overview
Mastering Longevity - Mental Health
Mastering Longevity - Mitochondria
Mastering Longevity - Melatonin
Mastering Longevity - Exercise
Mastering Longevity - Vitamins
Mastering Longevity - Antioxidants

Live long and prosper - My Philosophy of Life


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