Secrets of longevity
“I mind my own business and I don’t eat junk food.”
Following her husband’s death at the age of 68, in 1963, Cooper lived alone on their farm until 2001, when she moved into a nursing home at the age of 105. Their FARM, please note.
Increasingly, I find myself drawn to research around longevity. Many studies suggest that in fact, a lot of the ‘trends’ or factors we associate with good health are not necessarily shown to be the factors that prove instrumental in promoting a longer life.
For instance, the ‘health and beauty’ industry promote a certain image, such as the classic slim, toned, tanned model on the cover of any women’s health magazine, such as Zest or similar. They “suggest” through their marketing images (remember, their advertisers are the ones who pay for the magazine…your £3 quid to buy it is just a little top-up of their profits) that the secrets to perfect health and a long life are all about fancy yoga mats, spa breaks, white towels, a mud-scrub facial and the latest massage, colonic, protein supplement or some ‘new’ diet fresh out of Hollywood.
Yet longevity studies – talking to people over 100 years of age who are still alive – never seem to reveal “I was a model” or “I had a 6-pack in my 20’s” or “I was slim all my life and worked out in the gym 6 days per week”.
In reality, when researchers question old people over ‘the secrets to a long life’ we often find answers such as:
- “Life was pretty tough when we were young, we didn’t have much money, we never had pudding or sweets”
- “My father grew all our vegetables in our garden”
- “We couldn’t afford a TV”
- “I grew up on a farm, we had to get up at 5 every day and help milk the cows before school”
- “We walked everywhere, we didn’t have a car”
- “We’ve been happily married for 68 years”
- “I pray before bed every night and we have never missed a Sunday morning service at our local church”
- “We have always kept our own chickens”
- “We never ate junk food like these youngsters have these days”
The true secrets of longevity are yet to be conclusively revealed for us all to enjoy and benefit, but the more I learn, the more I think that instead of images of perfectly tanned models in white robes relaxing by the poolside, health magazines should show images of people bending over a vegetable patch or cleaning out a chicken coup. Maybe we need to see images of less consumerism, and more gratitude for the simple things in life.
I shall devote considerable time to researching longevity over the next decade or two. I am fascinated by this subject.
Besse passed away late in 2012. Rest in peace Mrs Cooper.