Longevity Secrets From a 96 Year Old With a Shocking GlycanAge ResultEver wondered how centenarians who are still full of vim and vigour live? What do they eat, how do they spend their days and what habits do they live by? Find out in our interview with the 96-year-old Neda.
It’s not every day I get to talk to an active and healthy 96-year-old, so I hope everyone I interviewed before will forgive me when I say that this is my absolute favourite interview. Neda is a true delight, a mother, a grandmother, and a living encyclopedia. She has a natural remedy for almost every disease and she ever so lovingly shared them all with me.
If you’re wondering what her biological age is, you might be surprised to learn that her GlycanAge is 65. Find out her secrets to staying young and feeling good.
Seeing how you’re 96, do you feel your age or do you feel younger?
I don’t feel 96, because once I retired, I kept on living as I did when I was working. I still take care of all of my responsibilities, I’m just doing them a bit slower. But I don’t think about my age until I take a look in the mirror and see the wrinkles. Still, that is normal and we all need to accept that our skin is also ageing.
Mental health is the most important thing, and I’m happy to say that I’m doing great on that front.
Have you ever had any health issues?
I had scarlet fever when I was young, which left a mark on my hearing. Now I use a hearing device that helps me communicate with people and get around. But when I was working, I didn't have a single day of sick leave, I was only on maternity leave.
Nowadays, I have a few problems with anaemia and my thyroid. I only take two pills a day, and interestingly enough I don’t have to take anything to help me sleep, I have no problem with that.
Even when I feel pain, I don't reach for a pill. At that point, I like to slow down and try to sleep it off. I am from Korčula and we have always been treated with herbal remedies. We didn't go to the doctor, but we drank mint, chamomile, thyme, plantain herb, laurel, oregano, lavender and immortelle teas.
I only put honey in them, no sugar. And more recently, I also added ginger, turmeric and cinnamon.
That’s wonderful to hear. Can you describe what you usually eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Every morning I make a drink with freshly grated ginger, one spoon of honey and a freshly squeezed lemon. That’s for my body and for the mind, I eat a spoon of coconut oil with a teaspoon of cacao and a spoon of honey.
For breakfast, I usually have cereal with different kinds of seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds) a pinch of cinnamon, a freshly grated apple and kefir that I make myself.
When I’m not having cereal, I’ll go for polenta, milk with cacao or cheese. I love including fruits in my breakfast, most often apples.
For lunch, I’ll have various soups. I love vegetable, chicken, and fish soup. I rarely eat meat, but when I eat it, it’s either chicken or turkey with a side dish of vegetables cooked in water, salt and olive oil. I’ll include a salad as well. Sometimes I’ll eat a bean stew.
For dinner, I like to have milk products, but if I had a big lunch, I’d just drink a cup of tea and have some bread.
Do you have a favourite fruit and vegetable?
I’m not a picky eater, I’ll eat all fruits and vegetables, but I’m conscious about what’s in season. I avoid eating frozen produce. I’ll pick apples as my favourite fruit and cabbage and mangel as my favourite vegetables.
You know, I was raised on vegetables and fish, we rarely ever ate meat. I had 6 siblings and we didn’t have a lot of money, so we all worked in our childhood. We helped around the house, backyard, the vineyard and the olive grove.
You must have fond memories of your childhood. Do you get to hang out with your family and friends often?
My family members don’t live in the same city or even country so I see my friends more. We have this tradition of getting together 4 times a week.
A different friend hosts every time and we have coffee and cake while we talk about our problems, stories from our youth and health problems. When we hang out like this, we only do it for an hour, because we don’t want to spend too much time complaining.
This tradition with my friends is a decades-long one. It started once we retired and even though we’ve lost some friends along the way, we still see each other.
Once a month, I meet up with former work colleagues and we make sure it happens outdoors.
I see my kids during the summer months. We all meet in Korčula for 2 months and catch up with the extended family.
So you like to spend time outdoors. Do you go for walks every day?
When I’m in Korčula, I love to swim in the sea since it helps with my knee troubles. Unfortunately, I broke my knee, and the sea soothes the pain.
It’s really important to move regularly. I don’t prefer to do it during rain and snow, but when it’s a sunny day, I love going for a walk. I also walk a lot around my apartment, since I do most of the domestic work myself.
Did a lot of people from your family live a long life?
My grandpa lived to be 100 and both of my parents died at 85. I do think genetics play a role.
However, for a long and healthy life, you need more than genes. You have to have a good diet and social life and need to stay active. You have to have discipline, because once you slip up, it is over, especially when you're as old as I am.
Some people choose to be alone and they lock themselves up away from the world, but that’s not good. You have to be amongst people and help them whenever you can. I find that helping others fills me with joy.
Every autumn, I make cookies and pickled vegetables that I send over to my grandkids and nieces and nephews. That’s one of my lifelong habits.
What a wonderful habit. What advice do you have for young people? Do you think we take good care of ourselves?
Respect your elders and make time for us. Don’t abandon your family members, because you surely don’t want that happening to you in the future. Also, take charge of your health. Do whatever you can not to depend on the health system since it’s so unpredictable.
What are your healthiest habits?
I don’t like to go to the doctor unless it’s truly necessary. If I feel early symptoms of a cold, I put my feet in a bucket filled with water and salt and after that, I inhale a mix of hot water, salt and eucalyptus oil. The iodine in the salt helps regulate my thyroid. These are the habits I grew up with.
Also, I have to say, it’s really important to stay positive and not get angry. I don’t hate anyone, I don’t gossip and I don’t complain. If you need to complain, keep it to a minimum.
Hahaha.. I’ll try. Since you have so many healthy habits, you surely must have some unhealthy ones as well.
No, I don’t. I’m sorry, but I really can’t think of any.
Now that is nothing to apologize for. What advice do you have for someone who just retired?
You have to mentally prepare for a new way of life, which isn’t easy, especially if you lose a spouse. You can’t let go completely, you have to get up every day and get ready. Spend some time on your appearance, even if you have nowhere to go.
Stay active and try to be around people as much as possible, you have to socialize to stay mentally healthy. When you’re actively working on something, let’s say chores, you’ll see how short the day can be and you’ll always find new things to do.
Have you created a new habit recently?
I did. I have given myself a task to help out my friends who are too old to take care of themselves. Since I like to cook, I’ll cook more and bring them meals. That makes me very happy.
Amazing, that’s a truly noble thing to do. My last question is, do you have any hobbies?
I like to read history and romance novels and do crossword puzzles. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I’ll tune in to a travel documentary or a sci-fi show. I guess I have a lot of different interests.
But I’m not just reading, I also like to write, mostly letters to my kids and diary entries. It’s a great way to express your emotions.
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