Category: Centenarians

Who is Fauja Singh?

The Inspirational Marathon Runner Fauja Singh

Fauja Singh is a remarkable person and someone who is a living example of what a healthy mindset and healthy lifestyle can do. He currently holds many records for his running. So, what makes him remarkable? Well, he is currently 106 years old, and he completed marathons when he was over 100 years old! Just a few weeks before he reached 102, he completed the Hong Kong Marathon.

Fauja Singh

I’ve been following Fauja Singh for quite a few years. I first saw him on a TV Documentary when he took part in the London Marathon. On there, he described his diet, and it’s clear that he’s been practicing calorie restriction for many years. On Wikipedia it says that Mr Singh is 5 ft 8″ tall and weighs just 115 lbs. So he is very lean, but this is probably a result of expending lots of energy running and aging itself, not just CR.

It’s been shown in rodents and rhesus monkeys that a CR diet preserves muscle mass and function with age. Also, in biopsies taken from people practicing long term calorie restriction (age 58 ± 7.4), gene expression profile of their muscles was found to be more similar to 30 year old controls. Big muscles require more calories, which accelerates ageing. CR does decrease muscle mass a little (depends on severity of restriction), but it preserves the muscles you have and its function for decades longer.

Fauja Singh believes that the reason he has lived so long is because he also abstains from both smoking and alcohol, and he follows a vegetarian diet. He mentions that he has been very careful with his diet over the years. He says that he limits his food intake by eating half a normal portion of food.

Here we have a great example to follow. I personally do not drink alcohol, I’ve never smoked, and for most of my life I’ve been active. I’ve also been vegetarian since 2007 and ‘mostly’ vegan since 2012, and will continue continue to eat this way for health and ethical reasons. I hope I can be in as good shape as he is when I reach that age. Actually, I hope to reach the 22nd century! 🙂 By then, I think it’s very possible we’ll have ways to reverse ageing.

Many people today in their 60s and 70s are not able to do what this man has accomplished, but I think that more people could, if they followed this way of life. Some people say: “it’s genes” and then forget about it. I think people underestimate how much of an impact diet and exercise can have. You have to remember that the choices you make today are important for your health decades from now. Make the right choices.

I recommend checking out and joining his Facebook page to keep up to date with what he’s up to.

Here’s a clip from that BBC Documentary I watched years ago, enjoy.

 

 

Calorie restriction in humans inhibits the PI3K/AKT pathway and induces a younger transcription profile

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3714316/

Supercentenarian Misao Okawa (大川 ミサヲ)

Misao Okawa (大川 ミサヲ), 116 Years Old, is the Oldest Person in the World!

The last time a person reached the age of 116 years, 347 days was back in 2006 when María Capovilla held the title of the world’s oldest person. Misao Okawa was born on 5 March 1898, and currently resides in Osaka in Japan. She is one of five women alive who are all from the 1800s, a time when life was far different from today’s world. She also has a daughter and a son who are in their early to mid 90s.

Although Japanese people are generally long-lived, she is quite exceptional. She says that good food, relaxation and good sleep are all contributors to her health. And when asked on her 116th birthday whether or not she thought she’d live such a long life, she said that she didn’t expect it. She was then asked if her time living felt long or short, and she replied: “It was kind of short.”

I’ve talked a lot about the Longevity of Okinawan’s and how they live most of their lives disease, but Japan as a whole has an incredibly high number of centenarians. Right now there are over 50,000 Japanese centenarians. More people in Japan get to see 100 than anywhere else in the world. And in Okinawa, the chance of becoming a centenarian is much higher still. People over there stay slimmer, they eat better, and they look after the elderly much better too. All these things contribute to the longevity records attained in Japan.

Misao Okawa turns 117 on the 5th March 2015. She still has some way to go to beat Marie-Louise Meilleur’s record of 117 years, 230 days. Maria-Louise died back in April 1998. So it has taken many years for these longevity records to be broken. Once a person reaches 115, it’s like there is a barrier they are up against — it is the upper limit of human lifespan. People like Misao on the other hand are outliers and it takes something extra and maybe a bit of luck to allow them to reach such an age.

The only way that we are going to be able to push longevity even further is to fundamentally slow down the ageing process. Jean Calment reached 122, and I predict that it will be some years before we see anyone break that record. But who knows? Sometime in the 2020s we could see it happen – especially given how fast medicine is progressing. Calorie restriction might be one way to break this barrier, but long before any of us practicing calorie restriction reaches such an old age, we’ll likely have true anti-ageing which are more powerful anyway.

Personally, I would love to reach such an age. Here in where I live, people often say that it would be horrible to live so long. But why? Imagine all the things that one could see in one life time. As long as we have good health, we should appreciate every day that we have. Life is precious and we should hold onto it as long as we can.

I hope that Misao Okawa reaches her 117th birthday. Although she is not in the best of health and seems quite frail, she is doing well. She still has a good mind and doesn’t seem to be giving up just yet!

If you want to emulate the Japanese diet, I recommend The Okinawa Program.  The book is based on decades of research into the lives of elderly Okinawan’s. A fascinating read, and was actually my first real introduction into understanding the Japanese diet and way of life. The researchers looked at the lives of these people over a 25 year period to find out what it was that made them live so long. Calorie restriction was only just a part of the reason for their incredible longevity. Okinawa is a place I would love to visit one day!

The five oldest people in the world

Misao Okawa – 116
Gertrude Weaver – 116
Jeralean Talley – 115
Susannah Mushatt Jones – 115
Emma Morano-Martinuzzi – 115

A video of Misao Okawa when she turned 116 years old.

 

Also seeHealth and Longevity: The longer you live, the healthier you’ve been

 

Health and Longevity: The longer you live, the healthier you’ve been

Health and Longevity: The longer you live, the healthier you’ve been

When people think of living a really long time, they might assume that these extra years would be spent in a state of decrepitude, where the person is not able to live independently and suffers from multiple health issues which significantly decrease their quality of life. Perhaps this misconception creates a fear in peoples minds about living to a very old age? But in reality, for the majority of people who reach 100 years and beyond, their health has been superior to most people and their medical costs are only a fraction of what is normal for the average person. How can this be? For one, they must have some remarkable genes! And in some cases, no doubt diet plays a very significant role in allowing them to reach such an extreme age in excellent health. Usually they don’t suffer from the the most common diseases that people suffer from in the west. We could place centenarians into three groups: survivors, delayers, and escapers. While they all may have reached the century mark, they got their on different paths. (1).

  • Survivors: These are centenarians who had developed at least one of ten major age-related illnesses before eighty; but despite them, still managed to reach one hundred and beyond.
  • Delayers: These are centenarians who had delayed development of major age-related illness until after 80 years.
  • Escapers: These reached one hundred without developing any lethal diseases; they have the most chance of becoming a supercentenarian and are very exceptional cases. These are the people which need to be studied to gain insights into their lifestyle and genetics.

Walter Breuning was a great example of someone that defied ageing. He lived to 114-years, and almost right until the end he was independent, had no cognitive-deficits and was pretty healthy for his age. According to many interviews, Walter had eaten a calorie restriction diet. He ate only two meals per day and maintained a lean BMI of 19 throughout his entire life. He believed that keeping his mind and body active was an important factor in his longevity. Also he never retired until he was 99 years old! Having a purpose in life and something to wake up for is certainly good for your well-being and longevity. At the time of his death, he was the fourth oldest man ever to have lived. There are a few interviews with him that I recommend watching on youtube. Walter was a lovely guy; he was kind, smart, and wise. I loved hearing his stories about all the inventions he got to see when he was growing up. It’s simply remarkable what you can see in your lifetime if you are able to live as long as he did. There are other examples of people who ate light and lived a similar lifestyle as Walter, and I’ll surely be writing about them also in the near future!

Disease Free SurvivalTo see how dramatic these differences are, just take a look at Figure4. HERE (2). It’s very simple to understand: The black curve is the control group; they started to develop diseases very early in their life; and by age 60 things started to fall apart. After a person turns 60, this is when ageing speeds up dramatically for the average person. All other groups have delayed morbidity: The nonagenarians (people between 90-99) never started to see a significant increase in disease until their mid-seventies. And for centenarians there’s a slight delay beyond that of nonagenarians by a few years. When we look at the semisupercentenarians, they live a little longer with better health than all previous groups. And finally there are the supercentenarians! Those that reached at least 110-years managed to live most of their life disease free. Approximately 80% of the supercentenarians were disease free at 100. (2).

There seems to be a biological limit to human lifespan, which is around 115 years. Of course there are exceptional cases like Jeanne Calment who lived to 122-years, but she is an extreme outlier, and to this day since her death in 1997 remains the oldest person on record. To break this barrier, we need to extend the maximum lifespan of our species. It could bejudging by supercentenarian phenotypesthat people who live to this age are already taking advantage effects of calorie restriction without actually doing the restriction part. Lucky for them. But for most people, to reach this these ages and beyond, you really have to be exceptionally healthy and do all the right things. And even then, there are no guarantees.


Walter Breunning at 114 Years Old

“Every day is a good day, that’s what you should think about; every day is a good day, and make it that way!” – Walter Breuning

References
1. Evert J1, Lawler E, Bogan H, Perls T. Morbidity profiles of centenarians: survivors, delayers, and escapers. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003 Mar;58(3):232-7. PMID: 12634289
2. Andersen SL1, Sebastiani P, Dworkis DA, Feldman L, Perls TT. Health span approximates life span among many supercentenarians: compression of morbidity at the approximate limit of life span. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Apr;67(4):395-405. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr223. Epub 2012 Jan 4. PMID: 22219514