10 Ways to Live Longer, According to the Longest-Living People in the World

Supercentenarians dish how they made it to 110 and beyond.


Eat more carbs

Nabi Tajima is the oldest verified person in the world. Unsurprisingly, the 117-year-old is from Japan, a country where people are known to live longer than others. At 83.6 years, the country’s life expectancy is second highest in the world, just behind Hong Kong’s 84 years. Tajima hasn’t spoken publicly about how she’s lived to meet 35 great-great grandchildren, but there’s a good chance her diet is key. One Japanese study found that citizens who stuck with the country’s dietary guidelines had lower risk of mortality in general and from cardiovascular disease. The guidelines are heavy on grains and veggies, balanced by meat, fish, and soy, plus just a couple servings each of fruits and dairy. It’s worth noting, though, that grains in Japan are more likely to be rice or noodles than a piece of white bread. Learn the eating habit that helps the world’s healthiest village live longer.

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Find your purpose

Don’t just count the years—make each year count. Delphine Gibson, the oldest citizen in the United States, says her faith and church family kept her living to 113, according to WJAC news station. Whether you’re spiritual or not, a meaningful life could help you live longer. A study in JAMA Psychology found that adults over 50 with a purpose in life were less likely to have slow walking speed or weak grip strength—both of which are signs of aging. Don’t miss these other 50 easy habits that help you live longer.


Be compassionate

At 115 years old, Ana Vela Rubio is the oldest person in Europe. The Spanish woman’s daughter says her mom’s secret to health is being exceptionally kind and cheerful. Rubio “always looked for the best for us, gave us the best education; we have been happy,” her daughter told La Vanguardia.

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Pump up the music

Alimihan Seyiti, a Chinese woman who might be the oldest person in the world, is said to be 131 years old (though Chinese birth records aren’t necessarily accurate before 1949). She’s been singing and dancing since she was a teenager, according to the Daily Mail. Getting older hasn’t dulled her love of music, either. As of 2014, she could still pick up a song after hearing it on TV just one time, according to The Sun. Don’t miss these other healthy habits your 80-year-old self will thank you for starting.


Drink plenty of water

No matter what time of year it is, Seyiti always drinks cold water, according to The Sun. Studies have shown dieters lose more weight when they drink more water, and keeping at a healthy weight can protect you from a host of conditions, from diabetes to heart disease. Here are 14 more things that could tack five years on your life.

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Eat less meat

Not every long-living person shuns animal products, but Seyiti sticks with a mostly vegetarian diet without giving up meat for good. Sure, she can eat a dozen pork buns when she does decide to indulge, but she doesn’t dig in to meat very often. The 131-year-old likes to keep her diet simple by only eating meat once a week, according to the Daily Mail. Learn more about the real eating habits of centenarians.


Make eggs for breakfast

Italian Emma Morano was the oldest person in the world in 2017 until she passed away at age 117. Centenarians run in her family—one of her sisters almost made it to 100, and another passed away at 102—but she has one secret ingredient that she claims has kept her kicking: raw eggs. After World War I, a doctor recommended she eat them to treat her anemia. For 90 years, she swallowed three eggs every day. “When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morning and then an omelet at noon,” her doctor of 27 years told AFP news. We don’t necessarily recommend eating them raw, but eggs are a high-quality protein that can fill you up at breakfast, keeping you full and less tempted to graze on unhealthy snacks before lunch. Here are more anti-aging foods that could help you live longer.


Show inner strength

Morano also said staying single most of her life helped keep her strong. Divorce wasn’t legal in Italy until 1970, but she chose to leave an unhappy marriage in 1938 after her six-month-old son died. Other men had shown interest, but she chose never to remarry. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she told the New York Times in 2015. According to one study, women with heart failure are more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle if they have inner strength.

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Find people who love you

When the Beatles said “love is all you need,” they might not have realized how accurate they were. Indonesia only started keeping birth records in 1900, but Sodimedjo, also known as Mbah Ghoto (grandpa Ghoto), might have been the longest-living man ever. Mbah Ghoto died in 2017 at 146, assuming his birth papers were accurate. He was a heavy smoker all his life but “had a long life because I have people that love me looking after me,” he told NPR. Studies have linked strong social relationships to better physical and mental health, plus a lower risk of dying.

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Eat local

Violet Mosse Brown, who at 117 was the world’s oldest living person for several months before she passed away, found a diet that worked for her. She told her local Jamaican paper, The Gleaner, that she will “eat everything, except pork and chicken, and I don’t drink rum.” But eating local might also have helped. The Jamaica Observer reported some of her favorite foods were sweet potatoes, mangoes, breadfruit, and oranges, which are all grown in Jamaica. Read on for the the 50 anti-aging breakthroughs that could mean you’ll age better than your parents.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.