The Italian woman Emma Morano lived to 117, remained single throughout most of her life, and maintained a unique diet rich in eggs but low in fruits and vegetables every day since World War I.
Most of us like to spice up our diets, routinely trying new restaurants and recipes to alter our food choices and keep from getting bored with what we eat. Along those lines, many would cringe at the idea of eating the same diet every day, especially if we knew we would live past 100 and have the same meals for nearly a century.
With that in mind, Emma Morano, who once held the record for being the world’s oldest person, said that she had eaten the same diet since World War I up to the day she passed away. She also believed that her consistent diet worked out in her favor.
Born on November 29, 1899 in Civiasco, Italy, Morano died at age 117 in April 2017. Before she died, Morano spoke about her exceptional longevity with numerous news outlets. Her recipe for longevity may not be what you would expect.
Every day for nearly 100 years, Morano ate three eggs, two of which were raw. She had been eating an egg-rich diet since being diagnosed with anemia just after World War I. Following her egg-laden breakfast, Morano ate an omelet at noon and chicken for dinner. In her later years, Morano introduced cookies to her diet; however, once she lost her teeth, she had to stop eating cookies.
“The main feature is that she always eats the same things every day, every week, every month of every year,” said her doctor of 27 years, Carlo Bava, in a press release. He added that she always ate very few fruits and vegetables.
While studies give differing perspectives on the longevity benefits of eggs — some finding it reduces mortality and others showing it increases mortality — researchers have a clearer understanding of how genetics influences lifespan. Given Morano’s family history, genetics clearly appear to be a factor that drove her exceptional lifespan. For example, one of her seven siblings died just before reaching 100, and another lived to 102. Moreover, Morano’s mother lived to be 91.
“We do know that the ability to make it to 110 is heritable, so you have a large increase in chance if you have several people in your family to live to a late age,” said Valter D. Longo, PhD, director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, in a New York Times report.
In addition to her diet, Morano believed her lifestyle choices contributed to her exceptionally long lifespan. Along those lines, she had fallen in love with a boy who died in World War I and did not have any interest in suitors after that. However, a man who later became her husband did not give her much of a choice.
“He told me: ‘If you’re lucky you marry me, or I’ll kill you.’ I was 26 years old. I got married,” Morano told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
She wound up ending her unhealthy marriage back in 1938 after the death of her six-month-old son. After that, she remained single.
“I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she told La Stampa.
Whether eating the same diet for years on end, a genetic inheritance, or a life of being single contributed to Morano’s exceptionally long life remains unclear. However, Morano worked in a factory making jute sacks for several decades. Thus, her physical activity as a factory worker along with her genetics for a long life may have contributed to her exceptional longevity.