The longest living human in history

The longest living verified person in recorded history was French woman Jeanne Calment. She lived to the age of 122 years and 164 days before passing away in 1997. She was born on 21 February, 1875. There are a few theories about why she achieved such longevity.

How did Jeanne Calment live to 122

For one, genetics surely played a role. Calment’s mother lived to be over 90 as well, suggesting protective genes at work. However, her lifestyle was also exceptional by most accounts.

As a young woman, Calment enjoyed things like fencing, cycling, and ice skating. Even into old age she remained active, using a wheelchair but otherwise mobile until just a couple years before passing. Physical activity is well known to stave off functional decline.

Jeanne Calment diet and lifestyle

Diet is also thought to have given Calment an edge. Growing up in Provence, she regularly consumed healthy fare like olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, and lots of fruits and veggies grown locally. Her diet was relatively low in meat and heavy in antioxidant-rich Mediterranean staples.

Beyond lifestyle, Calment also had an upbeat, positive outlook throughout her decades. Little ruffled her feathers even through world wars and hard times. Optimism and strong social ties are correlated with slower aging at a biological level per many studies.

So in Calment’s case, it seems longevity was a package deal influenced by multiple protective factors: excellent genes, lifetime habits of movement, a robust plant-slanting diet, as well as mental resilience and joie de vivre that likely reduced cellular wear-and-tear in her long life’s storybook journey across 12 decades of scientific wonder. She gave birth to her only child, a daughter named Yvonne Marie Nicolle Calment, on 19 January 1898. Her longevity record may stand unmatched for a good while still! To know more about her you can visit Wikipedia.


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