An interesting study in longevity
“In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile, a smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” — Mantak Chia
There is a mystique associated with longevity, which is no wonder that we want to know everything about the lifestyle and foods of the oldest person in the world right now.
In a recent interview with CNN, Sister André, a 118-year-old nun and oldest COVID-19 survivor who lives in southern France revealed two of her must-have snacks that keep her living life to the fullest: chocolate and wine.
More about Sister André
Sister André, formerly known as Lucile Randon, was born in France on February 11, 1904, according to the Guinness World Records. During her life, she worked as a teacher, and a governess. She took care of children during World War II. In 1944, Randon changed her name to Sister André, when she became a nun. She then spent 28 years working with orphans and the elderly at a hospital in Vichy, France.
Sister André told the reporter that she “enjoys chocolate and wine — and drinks a glass every day at her nursing home” at Résidence Catherine Labouré.
“People say that work kills, for me work kept me alive. I kept working until I was 108,” said Sister André. “People should help each other and love each other instead of hating. If we shared all that, things would be a lot better.”
Sister André now has assumed the title of the world’s oldest living person after her predecessor, Kane Tanaka, recently passed away.
Chocolate, wine, and purpose
“Having a sense of purpose is having a sense of self. A course to plot is a destination to hope for.” ―Bryant H. McGill
Chocolate, wine, and purpose sound like the holy trinity of longevity and a life well-lived.
As we all know, not all chocolate is created equal. Due to a higher concentration of cocoa and higher flavanols, dark chocolate is considered healthier than milk chocolate. Also, according to Web MD, dark chocolate has a positive effect on reducing blood pressure. In the study, people who ate dark chocolate for a week saw increased endothelial function and lower blood pressure. Additionally, dark chocolate can reduce the risks of diabetes, while also protecting the heart.
Coupling some decadent dark chocolate with a glass of red wine, as Sister André’s is doing, comes with positive effects on the body, as long as it is done in moderation. For instance, Medical News Today points out that wine made from crushed dark grapes — is a relatively rich source of resveratrol, a natural antioxidant in the skin of grapes.
Additional health benefits:
- Positive effect on cardiovascular disease
- Certain types of cancers
- Type 2 diabetes
- Neurological disorders
- Metabolic syndrome
However, Medical News Today also states that “whole grapes and berries are better sources of resveratrol than red wine, and because of the health risks linked with drinking alcohol, getting antioxidants from foods is likely to be more healthful than drinking wine.”
Sister André not only worked till 108, but she also found meaning in her work by helping others and making a difference. In her own words, work kept her going and alive.
Kelly Bilodeau in her article Will a purpose-driven life help you live longer? points out the 2019 JAMA Network Open study, which found that among a group of nearly 7,000 adults over age 50, those who scored highest on a scale that measured “life purpose” were less likely to die during the four-year study period. They were also less likely to die during the same period from heart, circulatory, or blood conditions, compared with those who scored lower.
Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D. in his article published in Psychology Today How a Sense of Purpose Can Help You Live Longer, indicates that “having a strong sense of purpose is positively correlated with more successful aging over the eighteen years of the study. Individuals scoring higher on sense of purpose reported lower functional disability, better self-rated health, and fewer symptoms of depression compared to individuals who scored lower on purpose. Having a strong sense of purpose also appears linked to better performance on tests of short-term memory and mental speed.”
While sister André found purpose in helping others, she also helped her own general well-being through work, living life with purpose and meaning, while indulging in a daily glass of red wine and some decadent chocolate.
Although sister André is now the oldest in the world, the title of the oldest person ever recorded also belongs to a French woman. Born on February 21, 1875, Jeanne Louise Calment lived 122 years and 164 days, according to the Guinness World Records statement.
Cheers to chocolate and wine! In moderation, of course!