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Secret to long life: Sushi and lots of sleep

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Secret to long life: Sushi and lots of sleep

The oldest woman in the world has just celebrated her 116th birthday. Misao Okawa, who was born on March 5th 1898, says that she owes her long and healthy life to eating lots of sushi and sleeping at least eight hours a night.

Speaking to the Telegraph, the super-centenarian – a term that is attributed to those who live past their 110th birthday – explained that eating well and getting enough rest is key to longevity.

During her lifetime, she has experienced an incredible three centuries, during which an amazing sea of change has occurred.

The year that she was born witnessed the Spanish-American War, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium, Queen Victoria was on the British throne and the first major production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull was performed by the Moscow Art Theatre.

“Mrs Okawa eats three large meals a day and makes sure that she sleeps eight hours a night,” Tomohito Okada, head of the Kurenai retirement home where Mrs Okawa has lived for the last 18 years, told the newspaper.

“She insists that her favourite meal is sushi, particularly mackerel on vinegar-steamed rice, and she has it at least once every month.”

Mrs Okawa said that her marriage in 1919 to Yukio Okawa and the birth of her three children (two are still alive, aged 94 and 92 respectively) were some of her fondest memories.

As to the saddest moment, she said that losing her husband in 1931 was heartbreaking. She has been a widow for 83 years of her life.

Research has found that Japanese people tend to live longer than in other countries, which is attributed to a robust healthcare system, a diet rich in vegetables and pulses and a culture that promotes social cohesion and community.

In the remote island of Okinawa, Japan, approximately 900 residents out of the million-strong population are centenarians, four times higher than in the UK or the US.

Studies have shown that people living here ‘age slowly’ than anywhere else in the world. Speaking to the BBC in 2008, the scientist Bradley Wilcox remarked: "The calendar may say they're 70 but their body says they're 50. The most impressive part of it is that a good lot of them are healthy until the very end."

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