Imagine living to 100 years old. That’s quite a feat isn’t it? Living this long puts you in the centenarian club. An elite group of people. A small group of people make it to 100 years and beyond. Even Betty White didn’t quite make it as she just passed away at 99 years old. This group of individuals has seen a lot and been through a lot of life. A lot of history, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of triumph!
To live this long there has to be a secret, or perhaps a few secrets?
Well in this case there’s one main secret but it’s quite unconventional. We’ll get to that later. First, you have to hear a bit about this 122 year old woman and her unhealthy habits that didn’t seem to deter her from passing 100 and not slowing down or stopping for another 22 years.
Born in France in 1875, Jeanne Louise Calment alive while the Eiffel tower was being built. When she was just 13 years old she met infamous artist Vincent Van Gogh, and sold him colored pencils. She described him as a ‘disagreeable person’ and said that ‘he reeked of alcohol.’
She began fencing at 85 years old.
She biked until 100 years old.
She was in a film at 114 years old, and was the subject of a documentary at 120 years old.
Interestingly enough her lifestyle wasn’t all that healthy. She smoked from 21 years old all the way till she was 117 years old, she drank port wine often and ate an incredible 2 POUNDS of chocolate every single week. That’s approximately 104 POUNDS of chocolate every single year. She ate quite literally thousands of pounds of chocolate in her lifetime. She not only lived longer than any other known human alive at the time of her death in 1997, but she probably ate more chocolate than anyone else alive in human existence, ever! Fascinating huh?
Her Longevity Secret?
Smoking and drinking were quite normal for many people. I have personal relatives that have smoked or drank (or both) for years and lived a very long time. The oldest relative of mine living to 99 years old. The key difference here with Jeanne is that she is ate a lot of chocolate very often. The only thing that stood her apart truly.
is Chocolate Healthy?
Short answer yes, long answer, somewhat. Modern day chocolate is probably quite different than chocolate 40 or 50 years ago. Chocolate now contains a lot of sugar and hydrogenated oils. But pure cacao, dark chocolate without it’s added ingredients is actually quite healthy.
Cacao (what chocolate comes from) is rich in Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Manganese and Copper. Minerals that support heart health, immunity, connective tissue and so much more. Cacao (chocolate) is actually a superfood packed full of healthy nutrients!
Jeanne bragged throughout her life that she had never been sick. A strong immune system. Interestingly enough chocolate is very rich in Zinc which is directly tied to immunity.
Jeanne was born to a wealthy family in Arles, Provence. Her father was a shipbuilder and her mother was from a family of millers, who worked on the grain mill. Longevity and good genes seemed to run in her family. Her mother died at the age of 86, her father lived till 93, and her brother lived a long life until 97. No one on earth’s recorded history have lived as long as her however. She had a good start with genes, but obviously it was more than that. Chocolate with plenty of minerals and a great source of prebiotics (healthy gut fiber) seems to fit that bill!
Jeanne’s typical childhood morning started with a cup of coffee mixed with milk, or a cup of hot chocolate for breakfast. After she finished her schooling at 16 years old she spent her days playing the piano and painting.
She ended up marrying her cousin as interbreeding was common in those days. They lived above their family store and thanks to their family wealth had servants take care of things. In those days the French upper class spent time cycling, fencing, swimming, tennis, roller skating and making music with friends. A very active and creative oriented lifestyle.
Jeanne Louise was just 4’11” and only 99 pounds. A small woman with a lot of passion for life, the creative arts, music, living, wine, and of course plenty of chocolate!