O bst, vegetables and liters of water: supposedly an unbeatable recipe for aging healthily. The last two people still alive in the 19. The results of the study, which were born in the nineteenth century, refute this theory. Emma Morano has been eating raw eggs every day since childhood, and more recently steak; her American peer Susannah Mushatt Jones eats a large portion of eggs and bacon for breakfast. 115 years old now. For their doctors they are phenomena.
When Morano and Jones were born, penicillin had not yet been discovered and electricity was a sensational novelty. The two lived through the devastation of two world wars, the rise and fall of the fascists, the first polio vaccinations, and eventually the first black president of the United States.
Emma Morano arrived on 29. The first woman to be born in Italy on November 1899. She’s lived alone since she left her battering husband in 1938. Today she lives in a pretty one-room apartment in Verbania in the north of the country.
The whole village takes care of her: The mayor gave her a TV, her niece checks on her twice a day, and her doctor, who has been treating her for more than 25 years, also comes by regularly. Not that it’s necessary, because the old lady is in good health.
She attributes her long life to her unusual diet. Eating three raw eggs every day since she was rather sickly in childhood. Today it is still two eggs and 150 grams of bloody steak to prevent anemia.
"She’s a phenomenon"
"My dad took me to the doctor back then, and he said, ‘Such a pretty girl. If you had come two days later, I would not have been able to save you.’ He told me to eat two or three raw eggs a day, so I ate two eggs a day."
But her current family doctor, Carlo Bava, also believes there is a genetic component. "From a strictly medical and scientific point of view, it can be considered a phenomenon," he says of his patient. Morano was not taking any medication and had been healthy for years. Morano’s sister, whom Bava also treated, lived to be 97 years old.
Gerontologists at the University of Milan study Morano and several other Italians who are more than 105 years old. They want to find out the secret of her long life.
"Emma defies all guidelines for proper nutrition: she’s always eaten what she’s wanted, and her diet is constantly repetitive," Bava says. "For years she ate the same thing every day, not much fruit or vegetables."
On a recent visit, the old lady appeared extremely lively. She sang a song from the 1930s, "Parlami d’amore Mariu," telling how she thrilled men with her beautiful singing voice back then.
Her doctor sees other reasons for her longevity: her positive attitude and stubbornness. And even though she can only move with difficulty, has poor eyesight and can hardly hear, she is still apparently active at night. "Her niece and I leave cookies and chocolate on the kitchen table at night," Bava tells. "And in the morning they are gone, which means that at night someone got up and ate them."
"Bacon makes everything better"
In Brooklyn, New York, Susannah Mushatt Jones, like Morano, keeps in touch with her family a lot, even though she has lived in a senior living facility for more than three decades. Jones follows a strict routine every day: she stands against 09.00 a.m., takes a bath and then eats several slices of bacon, scrambled eggs and grits for breakfast.
Her family says she spends her days thinking about her life. Her living room is decorated with family photos and birthday cards made for her by neighborhood children.
Jones, who usually wears a yellow turban and nightgown, looks out over her small world from her recliner: posters from previous birthday parties, letters from local politicians and even a greeting from U.S. President Barack Obama. A sign in the kitchen reads "Bacon makes everything better".
One of eleven children, she was born in Montgomery, Alabama. She graduated from high school there in 1922 and then worked in agriculture. She put up with it for a year, then started working as a nanny, first in New Jersey, later in New York. "She loved children," says her niece Lois Judge, even though she didn’t have any of her own and was only married for a short time.
Only her blood pressure is a problem
Her relatives say there is no medical reason for her long life, only her love for her family and her generosity to others. In New York, Jones and others established a scholarship that enabled young black women to go to college. And until the age of 106, she was still active in the neighborhood watch at her apartment building.
Today, despite her advanced age, a doctor visits only every four months. Jones takes medication for high blood pressure and a multivitamin every day. Apart from that, she has been healthy for years. She lost her eyesight 15 years ago because of glaucoma, and she can no longer hear well.
Next week Jones will be 116. Her family is planning a big celebration for her.