A recent article in BBC News listed the favorite foods of several centenarians.There were some odd responses. You would think that living to the 100 and beyond would necessitate a “healthy ‘, even a spartan ,diet. Not so. For instance, Britain’s oldest living woman, Florence Baldwin, still going strong at 113 ,is partial to a fried egg sandwich every day.
Here are some of the other responses ( * indicates that the person is still living) :
Hendricke van Andel-Schipper ( Netherlands 115 ) …Herring and a daily glass of orange juice.
Marian Amash ( Israeli Arab, 120*) … Lots of vegetables.
Mitoyo Kawate ( Japan,114)…Custard cakes . Custard cakes ?!!
Lucy D’Abreu ( Scotland, 113)…A brandy and ginger ale every evening .
Hryhoriy Nestor ( Ukraine 100+) … Sausage in a bread roll.
Ada Mason( Britain, 111)… Bread and dripping.
Annie Knight (Scotland,111)… Porridge.
Yukichi Chuganji ( Japan, 114*)… Boiled rice and Chicken. Hates vegetables.
Sakhan Dosova( Kazakhstan, 130? *) … Cottage cheese, no sweets.
Maria Esther de Capovilla ( Ecuador,116) Donkey milk .
Some of these food choices are known to be good for you ( vegetables, porridge, herring,orange juices ) while others are anything but ( Custard cakes, dripping ,sausages).Any dietitian worth her salt would throw up her hands at the foods from the second group. How then can we explain their presence in the regular diets of these centenarians?
Perhaps one reader hit the nail on the head when he responded that these foods did not prove harmful because they were eaten in small quantities and regularly.This made a lot of sense to me particularly when I remembered the diet of Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, a Japanese physician going strong at 97+ . Every day for breakfast he had coffee, toast, and orange juice with a teaspoon of olive oil. Lunch , when he had time for it, was milk and cookies… or nothing. Dinner was veggies,rice and a bit of fish and ,twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat. The good doctor’s diet doesn’t seem like fun.He doesn’t appear to be fond of food , as these people do.
Another thing to remember is that diet is only one of several factors affecting health and longevity.Genes/heredity, mental stress, and exercise habits are some of the others. Ultimately, it is upto each of us to make our own choices in each area of life .