Longevity in China: Odd Secrets to Living to Be a Hundred
It is always awe-inspiring - if not a little baffling - to see people who live to be a hundred years old because not many of us live long enough to reach this age. But in Bama, a small county located in Guangxi which is one of the five Longevity Villages identified by the United Nations worldwide, more than 80 people are at least 100 years old; and in another village called Shuping, most people reach their 90s.
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While there have been several studies about actual, scientific immortality in the animal kingdom and what this could mean for humans, longevity is the closest that our species has gotten to it. The deep-sea creature known as the vampire squid, however, was found by scientists at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel to have reproductive cycles indicative of extreme longevity. According to the World Health Organization's Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, the average life expectancy at birth as of 2015 is 71.4 years; so, to surpass this age is already considered a huge milestone. In China, specifically, the average life expectancy at birth is 76 years old, according to research by the National Bureau of Statistics.
The Odds of Reaching 80 and Beyond
Wu Liangfu, a 104-year-old tailor in Shuping says that the key to a long life is working hard. A former soldier, Mr Liangfu adds that having good relations with everyone is also essential. He recounts what his father used to tell him, "...a family that is harmonious will see the elders age with dignity, the young grow well, everyone's mood will be good and longevity will come naturally."
An article on MoneyWatch discusses the life expectancy of men and women who have reached the age of 65. Apparently, the average life expectancy at birth, which we have mentioned earlier, is different from life expectancy for those who have already lived to reach the age of 65. When you talk about life expectancy at birth, this takes into account the average lifespan of everyone who was born in the same year, including those who die before they reach 65. So, those who have made it to 65 are in a more select group of people who have been healthy and lucky enough to live that long.
According to the article, the odds of a 65-year-old woman living another 20 years and reaching the age of 85 is 5 out of 10, while a 65-year-old man has a 5 out of 10 chance of living another 17 years and reaching the age of 82, at least in the United States. An infographic prepared by Betway Insider provides some interesting data about the odds of people, both male and female, reaching certain ages. According to this resource, the odds of reaching the age of 80 is 8 out of 10 for both men and women. The ratio becomes steeper for reaching the age of 90, which is 55 out of 100 for men and 6 out of 10 for women. As for becoming centenarians, like the oldest person alive, a 117-year-old woman from Japan, the odds of women reaching this stage is greater-1 out of 4-compared to men which is 1 out of 5.
Unusual Secrets to Ripe Old Age Revealed
Typically, articles about aging well and having a long life would discuss maintaining a healthy lifestyle, proper diet, and having a positive outlook in life. However, the senior residents of Shuping are sharing some rather unusual yet very interesting secrets to living up to a hundred years and more. In fact, Yu Fangyin, who is 99, shares that smoking and drinking more than 10 kilograms of rice wine in a month are what keeps him happy and healthy. His daughter-in-law, Wang Jiaxiang, attests, "Apart from these, he has no other interests. He is very healthy, is rarely ill, and is a bit of a celebrity in the village."
93-year old Chen Zhenglan, says that having a good argument with her husband, Li Changgui who is 89, is actually healthy. She says, "Arguments are part of life. This may be another way to express their love as well as the secret to their longevity." Their son, Li Tianshun, says his parents have been constantly arguing about almost anything, with Mrs. Zhenglan usually making a compromise in the end.
Although there are no scientific studies that can back up these odd pieces of advice from the elders of Shuping, the fact remains that they are alive and well, and are on their way to reaching a century. Maybe science is still very far from discovering the secret to longevity, but it looks like in Guangxi they have it all figured out.