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If you're interested in living to 100, several things can better your odds. For starters, don't smoke, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and reduce your alcohol consumption. But if you talk to centenarians themselves, you might be surprised to learn that the ones who've lived the longest lives have followed their own rules—and some of them are quite unusual.
Read on for six tips from some of the oldest people in the world on how to make it to 100—and live life to the fullest while you're at it.
Live in the moment.
Norman Lear has worked for decades in the public eye as the television writer and producer behind shows like All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude. On July 27, 2022, he turned 100 years old and penned an op-ed in The New York Times on his age and the state of American politics.
"I cannot believe a century has passed," Lear told USA TODAY earlier this week. "I'd rather believe a new century starts. How exciting is that?" He added that he still finds meaning in every day. "Some people run. I don't run. I wake up and do the things that please me. That's my present to myself. That's my prayer. That's everything."
On the eve of his 100th birthday, Lear took to social media to share his advice on a long and happy life. His message? Live in the moment. "The moment between past and present… the hammock in the middle of after and next—the moment. Treasure it. Use it."
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Never get married.
Born in Mexico in 1887, Leandra Becerra Lumbreras lived to be 127 years old, making her the longest living person in recorded history. After she died in 2015, her family shared their matriarch's words of wisdom about her record-setting longevity. Lumbreras' secret to a long life? "Eating well, sleeping for days on end, and never getting married," as reported by the Daily Mail.
Pray—and eat raisins.
New Jersey resident Lucia DeClerck made headlines last year when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 on her 105th birthday. Having just received her second vaccination, she made a full recovery. When interviewed by The New York Times, DeClerck shared her tips on living to 100: "Prayer. Prayer. Prayer," she told the paper. "One step at a time. No junk food."
Her next piece of advice was more unusual: Eat nine gin-soaked raisins each morning. "Fill a jar," she said. "Nine raisins a day after it sits for nine days."
Spike your coffee.
Giuseppe "Joe" Silveri, an Italian immigrant living in Vancouver, Canada, turned 100 in 2019. Upon celebrating his centennial birthday, he shared his best advice for living as long. His strategy? Meeting his neighbor every morning between nine and 10am for an espresso spiked with the alcohol of his choice—most often brandy or grappa.
His son, Ernesto, adds that he also abides by more traditional health measures. "What he always says is keep active, work in the garden all the time, and eat well," he told CTV News, a Vancouver news station. "That's it."
Avoid men and eat porridge.
At one time the oldest woman in Scotland, Jessie Gallan lived to turn 109 years old in 2015. "My secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They're just more trouble than they're worth," she told the Daily Mail on her birthday. "I also made sure that I got plenty of exercise, eat a nice warm bowl of porridge every morning, and have never gotten married."
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British-born dancer Henry Danton turned 100 years old in 2019 and marked the occasion by sharing his longevity tips with Today. "It's not amazing, you have to take care of yourself," he said. "This body is the only thing you've got. You've been given this wonderful instrument, you have to look after it."
He added that he never planned to retire from his work as a ballet instructor, which keeps him mentally and physically active. "I really, absolutely believe exercise is the answer to everything," he continued.
Danton added that spending time doing what you love and remaining optimistic also contribute to good health. "There's absolutely no point in making your life miserable," he added. "Your mood affects you physically, absolutely."