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Eat three eggs per day and no spouse required: the secret to longevity as revealed by one of the world’s oldest humans

Stefan Andrews
Emma Morano in 2016. Photo:OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Many people long to learn the science of longevity, and in some extreme cases, such as that of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang, it even meant an empire-wide quest for the elixir of life. Of course, nobody has managed to provide such an elixir, or medicine in the case of the emperor. He died at the age of 49, in 210 B.C., and as some sources suggest, he might have used cinnabar, something that would have shortened his life instead of prolonging it.

For Italian-born Emma Martina Luigia Morano, born on November 29, 1899 and who passed away at the age of 117 in April 2017, the recipe for such a long life was much simpler. Ahead of her last birthday in November 2016, Morano had reportedly answered a few questions about the key to her longevity while in her home in Verbania, a town on the north of Italy nestled by Lake Maggiore and close to the Swiss border.

“I eat two eggs a day, and that’s it. And cookies. But I do not eat much, because I have no teeth,” was the answer of the elderly woman, published in AFP.

Morano kept to her egg-eating ritual, a highly nutritious food and well-known source of good protein, ever since she was told she had anemia at the age of 20. A doctor had advised her then to take three eggs each day, two raw and the other cooked. She has apparently stuck to this routine for most of the remainder of her life–a period of almost nine decades.

Morano in 1900

Morano in 1900

Some calculations say that for such a long period of daily egg-consuming, the Italian woman must have eaten approximately 100,000 eggs, a number that can well be her second Guinness World Record. According to Guinness, she was declared the world’s oldest living in May 2016. She is considered to be the last living person born in the 19th century, too.

Morano’s statement reveals that her long life appears to neglect some of the most popular tips on how to obtain longevity, for example, she had not included too many fruits or vegetables to her diet.

According to Mr. Bava, Morano’s doctor, who has taken care of her health during the last three decades of her life, she was eating two raw eggs for breakfast and an omelet for lunch when he met her. The supercentenarian regularly opted also for chicken for dinner, though in the last years, she has presumably stopped eating any meat as she had come to dislike the taste of it. Also, because somebody told her that eating meat can cause cancer.

Emma Morano, 1920s

Emma Morano, 1920s

Morano, the oldest of eight children, also could have reached such longevity because of genetics, a thought shared by Mr. Bava. Gerontologists in general back up the idea that several factors are in the game when it comes to longevity, diet and genetics included. At least two of Morano’s siblings reached an age of 100, as well as their mother, who passed away at 91. A strong, determined character and well-established daily habits are something that Mr. Bava further acknowledged as significant factors to Morano’s age.

Morano has been married; however, a greater portion of her adulthood, she spent single. Reportedly, her first spouse died during World War One when she has been in her mid-twenties. She had separated from her second husband, named Giovanni Martinuzzi, in 1937, when she was in her late thirties.

Emma Morano, 43 years old

Emma Morano, 43 years old

This second marriage had been an unhappy one, and abusive, in which Morano lost her only child, a boy who died at just six months of age. As Morano recalled, she actually threw her second husband out, not following a regular divorce procedure. Concerning employment, the Italian woman seems to have been stable, working as a cook until retirement.

In the last years of her life, Morano faced difficulties with speaking, and her hearing was not too well either. But overall, her health has been as good as it could be. In those instances in which she has fallen sick, reportedly she had been very determined not to leave her home to check in the hospital. Instead, any treatment needed had been carried out at her place, including blood transfusions and stitches.

Related story from us: Apparently Chinese herbalist Li Ching-Yuen lived to be 256 years old

Since her eyesight started to fail at the end, Morano stopped watching television. She spent much of her time at home, sleeping or sitting in her comfortable armchair from where she gave her last interview, and where she also took her last breath of life at the age of 117.