It’s all about immunity: how to live to 100+

When the media interview centenarians about their long lives, the main questions is always the same: “What’s your secret to living a long life?”

Responses inevitably vary, from drinking red wine to having lots of grandchildren, but the true reason may be a little less lifestyle and more down to our genes.

The New England Centenarian Study has studied a group of exceptionally long-lived people aged 100+, looking for indications of what might be behind a potentially long life. Scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine took samples from seven centenarians in the New England study to see if there were any similarities in their genes. They found that:

“This rare population of individuals who reach 100 years or more have a distinct composition of immune cells that provides them with highly functional immune systems.”

As we age, the efficiency of our immune system tends to decline. However, according to the Boston University School results, those who live to age 100 and beyond have ”elite immunity” that makes them:

“Enriched for protective factors that increase their ability to recover from infections.”

Compressing disease timescales

If you have the right genes and live beyond 100+, it appears that the usual effects of ageing are “compressed” into the later years of your life. Age-related diseases also don’t appear to appear until later in your lives. Even more surprisingly, the longer you live, the more this “later in life” genetic effect increases.

This isn’t so much due to a single genetic factor but several that all add up.

“Their genetic advantage is likely due to variants that slow aging and decrease risk for aging-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease.”

So, if you have the genes for a set of distinct immune cells and a family history of exceptional longevity, you’re more likely to live longer and be less prone to disease.

Wise words from the long-lived

Maria Branyas Morera is (at time of writing) the longest-lived person in the world, aged 116. Interestingly, she is one of eight women who are all older than the oldest man, Juan Vicente Perez Mora, aged 113.

Ms Morera lists her tips for a long life as:

“Order, tranquillity, good connection with family and friends, contact with nature, emotional stability, no worries, no regrets, lots of positivity, and staying away from toxic people”.

Currently the oldest man in Canada is Reuben Sinclair, born in 1911. He is also Canada’s oldest veteran, having served in WWII as a wireless operator. His secret for long life is simple:

“I never worry, always happy. If you worry, you lose your hair. If you got a problem, fix it. Remember that.”

Other tips from Canadians aged 100+ include:

“Try to get through each day without hurting anyone. Feel good about yourself. And having a good sense of humour doesn’t hurt.”

Dorothy Marley, 102

Executive secretary; Toronto, Canada

“Have a sense of purpose – something you want to do when you get up – and eat nutritiously. Keep your social life in good order, maintaining and establishing friendships with people you enjoy being with. Love, work, laugh – and wear a hat.”

Angus Hamilton, 100

Royal Canadian Air Force radar operator and university lecturer; New Brunswick, Canada

What amazing people! We’re inspired to rush off and meet a friend, eat some fruit – and buy a hat!

Home care for those aged 100+

Whatever hobby the centenarian in your family likes doing, our home caregivers can help them do it! We can provide a truly comprehensive care service to enable your loved one to age in place and help make every day engaging and enjoyable.

For more details on our Calgary home care services, or to book your initial consultation:

539, 5940 Macleod Trail SWCalgary, AB