Living Past 100–Sushi, Horses, and Wine

Update July 2015:
The world’s oldest man, a retired educator from Japan, has died at the age of 112. The oldest woman lives in Brooklyn.

November 2014: 
A new study of supercentenarians says that the world’s oldest people share no genetic secrets. So it’s all down to eat, drink, be merry–with heavy doses of common sense and a dash of luck. 

June 2014: 
The oldest man (officially) has passed on–this video shows he was alert, funny, and curious about life. Like many, he attributed his long life to diet, exercise, and nutrition–and a love of ice cream. 

Sushi, Horses, and a Glass of Wine

I’ve decided the secret to a long life is to grow up to be a cute little old lady in Okinawa. I’ll have to work on it pretty hard since I’m an aging man in Iowa who has never been called cute, but if it adds decades to my life, maybe it’s worth a try.

Okinawan Misao Okawa turned 116 recently, and she celebrated by digging into a white cake decorated with strawberries and candles. If the translator got it right, she responded with a “kind of” when asked if she was happy to reach such an age. As we age, none of us is too bubbly about added candles on the cake, so I’ll take it as a “yes.” She credits a healthy appetite and getting plenty of rest for her longevity. She also enjoys sashimi.
For several years, my plan of becoming a centenarian from Okinawa had potential. My family and I lived and worked in Tokyo, and sashimi shops were as prevalent as pizza joints are in my current surroundings. I could handle most of the fare except “uni,” something scraped from sea urchins and considered a delicacy. I could get a bit of it down if I used plenty of wasebi and Japanese beer. If that’s an ingredient for long life, I might have to cash it in early.
Our west Tokyo neighborhood also included an Okinawa restaurant. Tofu, pork, and egg dishes were available, but the common denominator was a vegetable called “goya.” The nubby, green gourd has a distinctly bitter flavor, and it is apparently loaded with vitamin C and other nutrients. It seemed OK grilled (I like most anything grilled), but once again, I couldn’t see this as my key to longevity.
Maybe I need to cross reference. I recently saw a video of a Texas rancher who still actively kicks around the farm as he turned 100. And a neighbor woman here in Iowa had her 100th birthday a few months back. She likes a glass of Chardonnay on the porch each afternoon.
So that might be it. Common sense, healthy eating; plenty of exercise and activity; and a steady dash of enjoyment, occasionally with a glass in hand. Who would have guessed?   

by dan gogerty (photo,

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