From 'eating delicious things' to avoiding marriage, these are the secrets to a long life, according to people who lived beyond 100

Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images/Mike Segar/ReutersEmma Morano and Alexander Imich both lived over 110 years.
  • These 12 people each lived for more than a century, and they all had different theories on what helped them live so long.
  • Emma Morano, from Italy, lived to be 117, and credited her long life to a diet that consisted of two raw eggs a day.
  • At 109, Jessie Gallan was Scotland’s oldest living person until her death in 2015. She said that her secret was good exercise and avoiding men – she never married.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Though improved medical care and knowledge has helped people live longer and healthier lives, there still aren’t many that live beyond a century. According to a recent study, just 0.0173% of Americans live to 100.

These people from around the world have all lived well beyond that, beating the odds to achieve long lives. Each centenarian or super-centenarian (those who live beyond 110) on our list shared their tips for longevity.

From daily eating habits to exercise routines, these are their tips for a long life.


Misao Okawa was the world’s oldest living person until her death at age 117 in 2015. “Eating delicious things is a key to my longevity,” she said.

Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty ImagesMisao Okawa celebrating her 115 birthday.

Misao Okawa was born in 1898 in Japan. Japan has the most centenarians in the world. According to the Japan Times, in 2018, the country had 69,785 people over 100, nearly 90% of whom were women.

In 2014, Guinness World Records recognised Okawa as the world’s oldest living person. She cited eating sushi and getting a good night’s sleep as the reasons for her long life.


Emma Morano was the world’s oldest living person from 2016 until her death at age 117 in 2017. She ate two raw eggs a day and loved cookies.

Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty ImagesEmma Morano in Verbania, Italy, in 2016.

Morano was born on 29 November, 1899, in the Piedmont region of Italy. She told the BBC that she believed her long life was partly due to genetics, but she also ate a diet of three eggs a day, two of them raw, for more than 90 years.

Morano didn’t have an easy life – her only son died at just 6 months old, and she had an abusive marriage. She believed leaving her marriage in 1938 contributed to her longevity. She told the New York Times, “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.”

Morano was alive in three centuries, and before her death on April 15, 2017, she was believed to be the last living person born in the 19th century.


116-year-old Gertrude Weaver said her secret to long life was kindness. “Treat people right and be nice to other people the way you want them to be nice to you,” she said.

Danny Johnston/AP ImagesGertrude Weaver in Camden, Arkansas, on July 3, 2014.

Weaver was the oldest living person in the United States from her 116th birthday on July 4, 2014, until her death in her home state of Arkansas in April 2015. She was also the world’s oldest living person for less than a week before her death.

She told Time that her secret to long life was kindness, but she also attributed it to not drinking or smoking, and getting plenty of sleep. Additionally, she didn’t have any chronic health conditions, a rarity for people of her age.


At 109, Jessie Gallan was Scotland’s oldest living person. Her secret to long life was avoiding men. “They’re just more trouble than they’re worth,” she said.

STV NewsJessie Gallan was Scotland’s oldest resident.

Gallan was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1906, and died in March, 2015, at age 109.

In an interview with STV News, she said, “I also made sure that I got plenty of exercise, ate a nice warm bowl of porridge every morning, and have never gotten married.”


Alexander Imich was a Holocaust survivor and the world’s oldest man before his death in June 2014. He credited his longevity to “good genes” and exercise.

Mike Segar/ReutersAlexander Imich at his home in New York City on May 9, 2014.

Imich was born in Poland on February 4, 1903. He moved to the United States in 1951 after surviving the Holocaust and a Soviet gulag.

He told the New York Times that he believed his long life came down to genetics and exercise. “I was a gymnast. Good runner, a good springer. Good javelin, and I was a good swimmer,” he said. He also never drank alcohol, which he believed was another contributing factor.

He was given the title of world’s oldest man by Guinness World Records at 111 years old on May 8, 2014, and held the title until his death on June 8, 2014.


Duranord Veillard lived to 111, and was married for over 80 years. He credited healthy eating and doing five to seven push-ups daily.

Lohud NewsDuranord Veillard at his home in Rockland County, New York.

Veillard was born on February 28, 1907, in Haiti. He was married in 1932, and he and his wife, Jeanne, moved to the United States in 1968.

USA Today interviewed the Veillards, one of the oldest living couples, in 2015. At the time, Jeanne was almost 105 and Duranord was about to celebrate his 108th birthday.

He told USA today that his secret was waking up early each day to do “five to seven” push-ups before eating a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit. The couple would also have fish and vegetables for lunch and dinner.

Duranord died at age 111 in June 2018, and Jeanne died just a few months later, in November of that year, at age 108.


Jeralean Talley was the world’s oldest person before her death in 2015. She said that her faith and pork helped her reach such an old age.

Monica Morgan/WireImage/Getty ImagesJeralean Talley at the Ford Freedom Awards in 2015.

Jeralean Talley was born in Montrose, Georgia, in 1899. She moved to Michigan in the 1930s, where she spent the rest of her life until she passed on June 17, 2015.

According to USA Today, Talley was very religious, and her friends and family said she lived by the motto treat people how you want to be treated.

She told Time that her secret to a long life included her devout faith, as well as a diet rich in pork, including pigs’ feet and ears.


Bernardo LaPallo lived beyond 100 and said “obedience and moderation” contributed to his long life. He also said rubbing his “body down with olive oil” and crossword puzzles kept him healthy.

Paul J. Bereswill/AP ImagesBernando LaPallo, right, greets Derek Jeter in 2013.

Bernardo LaPallo’s family believe he was born on August 17, 1901, in Vitoria, Brazil. Both his parents lived long lives – his father reached 99 and mother lived to 105. He died on 19 December, 2015, at age 114.

LaPallo was known for his healthy lifestyle books, where he shared how he lived such a long and healthy life.

In an interview with National Geographic, he said, “My longevity is due to my obedience and moderation. I have based my life on following what my father told me.” He also said eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, going to bed early, and exercising kept him healthy.

He also shared his daily routine: “I get up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning, go for my walk, take my shower, rub my body down with olive oil, make my breakfast. Stress is a killer, my daddy told me that. It’s important to take time to relax and exercise your brain, such as by doing crossword puzzles.”


Jiroemon Kimura was the world’s oldest person until his death in 2013. His slogan was “eat less and live long.” He also kept sharp by reading the news daily.

The Asahi Shimbun/Getty ImagesJiroemon Kimura celebrating being the oldest man in Japan in 2009.

Jiroemon Kimura was born on April 19, 1897, in Kyoto, Japan. In 2012, at 115, he became the world’s oldest living person and held the title until his death on June 12, 2013.

In an interview with the Guardian, he said his secret to a long life was watching his food portion sizes, waking early in the day, and reading newspapers.

He told Patch a few other ways he kept healthy for so long. “It’s important to make daily exercise a discipline,” he said. He also cited overcoming adversity as something that made him strong. “After every storm, peace always comes,” he said.


According to his documents, Mbah Gotho lived to be 146. He said he had “a long life because I have people that love me looking after me.”

Jefta Images/Barcroft Media/Getty ImagesMbah Gotho at his home in Java, Indonesia, in 2016.

According to his papers and reportedly verified by the Indonesian government, Mbah Gotho was born in December 1870. However, the country only started recording births in 1900, so the topic remains up for debate.

Gotho told the BBC that his long life was due to his loving family. He was a heavy smoker until his death, and outlived four wives, 10 siblings, and all of his children.


Reaching 122, Jeanne Calment is officially recorded as the oldest person to have ever lived. She credited her long life to olive oil, cigarettes, chocolate, and wine.

Pascal Parrot/Sygma/Getty ImagesJeanne Calment in France in 1996.

Calment is believed to have been born in Arles, France, in 1875. However, some doubt has been cast on this date, as many researchers cite her age at the time of death as “statistically impossible.” Nevertheless, she remains the official oldest person to have lived.

According to the New Yorker, she smoked for most of her life, only quitting at 117, five years before her death. She also drank a glass of port every night. She also thoroughly enjoyed chocolate. Calment passed on August 4, 1997, of unknown causes.


Susannah Mushatt Jones was the world’s oldest person until her death in 2016. She swore by bacon as one of her secrets to longevity.

Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News/Getty ImagesSusannah Mushatt Jones on her 113th birthday in 2012.

Jones was born on July 6, 1899, in Lowndes County, Alabama. She was the third of 11 children. She moved to New York in the 1920s, and although she never had any children, she remained very close with her siblings and their children.

According to Insider, at 115, Jones was still eating bacon and grits for breakfast, and she cited bacon as a food that helped her live a long life. She also ate a lot of fruit. Additionally, her niece said that she never drank, partied, or did drugs.

However, more than anything, it was a loving family that kept Jones alive so long, as they cared for her and visited every Sunday.

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