Dr. Arvind Dhople: Lifestyle + Genetics = Formula For Longevity
By Arvind M. Dhople, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Florida Tech // July 6, 2015
SUPERCENTENARIANS HAVE 'AGELESS PERSPECTIVE'
ABOVE VIDEO: To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and team study the world’s “Blue Zones,” communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. At TEDxTC, he shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.
A supercentenarian is someone who has reached the age of 110 or more (as validated by both Gerontology Research Group, based in Los Angeles, California, and Guinness World Records) – something achieved by one in a thousand people who reach 100 years of age.
Approximately one supercentenarian in 15 lives to turn 114. The supercentenarians seem to have strengths in their ability to cope more effectively with the losses and challenges of life – they almost seem to live life in an “ageless perspective” of themselves.
OVER 95% OF SUPERCENTENARIANS ARE WOMEN
As of June 30, there have been 45 known supercentenarians living in the world – Japan (20), United States (13), Italy (5), France (3), and one each from Australia, Jamaica, French Guiana and Spain – and out of 45, there are 43 females and 2 males (both in Japan).
The record of “the oldest person in the world” has changed four times since the first of this year.
First, Misao Okawa (Okinawa, Japan) died of heart failure on April 1, a few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday. On that birthday she said the secret of her long life was “eating delicious things (sushi was the best), and taking plenty of sleep (at least eight hours every night).
After that, it was Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas (born July 4, 1898). But she too died on April 6, before she turned 117 on July 4.
Then, on June 18, Jeralean Talley (Inkster, Michigan) died at the age of 116 (born May 23, 1899).
So, now the oldest living person in the world is Susannah Mushatt Jones (born July 6, 1899) of Brooklyn, New York. She will turn 116 years old in one week.
Jones is the third of 11 children. She has no children, but more than 100 nieces and nephews.
By the way, the oldest living supercentenarian in Brevard County is Mattie Mae Cisrow of Cocoa – she celebrated her 110th birthday on May 30.
The longest unambiguously documented human lifespan is that of Jeanne Calment of France (1875-1997), who died at age 122 years, 164 days. She received news media attention in 1985, after turning 110.
Subsequent investigation found documentation for Calment’s age, beyond any reasonable question, in the records of her native city, Arles, France. Calment drank port wine every day, ate two pounds of chocolate per week and also smoked until she was 117.
‘THE BLUE ZONE’
In his award-winning book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Dan Buettner (see above video) identifies, using intense statistical analysis, and discusses the five geographic areas of the world where people live abnormally long:
- Sardinia, Italy (particularly Nuoro province and Ogliastra): A hot spot of longevity in mountain villages where diet is plant-based and rich in calcium and protein, and men whose primary occupation is sheepherding and involves hours of daily walking, reach the age of 100 years at an amazing rate.
- The islands of Okinawa, Japan: Inhabitants’ diet consisting primarily of vegetables, rice and fish, and people of all ages who are socially active and integrated into their communities makes Okinawans among the longest-lived people on Earth.
- Loma Linda, California: A group of Seventh-day Adventists whose vegan diet + fish contributes to their rank among North America’s longevity all-stars.
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: A healthy diet of squash, beans and corn plus a culture that invests heavily in the family unit results in an inordinate number of centenarians living in an environment that provides support and a sense of purpose and belonging.
- Ikaria, Greece: A small island in the Aegean Sea where a distinct version of the Mediterranean diet is followed, emphasizing olive oil, vegetables, beans, fruit, moderate amounts of alcohol and low quantities of meat and dairy products. The island boasts the highest percentage of 90-year-olds on the planet – nearly 1 out of 3 people make it to their 90s. Not only that, but they also have much lower rates of cancer and heart disease, suffer significantly less depression and dementia, maintain a sex life into old age and remain physically active deep into their 90s.
After scouring the globe, Buettner has found several basic threads that connect the longest-lived: a plant-based diet; regular, low-intensity activity; an investment in family; a sense of faith; and purpose.
RECORD BREAKING RUN FOR 92 YEAR-OLD AMERICAN WOMAN
Ninety-two-year-old cancer survivor Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina, completed the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego in 7 hours, 24 minutes, 36 seconds, becoming the oldest woman to finish a marathon.
ABOVE VIDEO: ABC News chronicles Harriette Thompson’s record breaking run.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Arvind Dhople graduated from the University of Bombay and then joined Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, first as a post- doctoral fellow and then Asst. Professor. In 1980, he joined Florida Tech as a Professor and Director of their Infectious Diseases Lab. His specialty is microbial biochemistry and he performed research in leprosy and tuberculosis. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology and has published nearly 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has also served as an advisor to the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, German Leprosy Relief Association, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus at Florida Tech and a free-lance writer.