Margie opened her door and welcomed me with a big smile as if I were a friend she hadn’t seen for a while. Her sunny one-bedroom apartment was tidy. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview this lively 91-year-old.
People in Loma Linda, CA, live 4-7 years longer, on average, than other Americans. This is why I wanted to visit this quiet haven outside Los Angeles, to meet with Margie and other 90+ year olds. Loma Linda is America’s longevity hot spot. I came here to ask the same question as many other researchers.
What is your secret to longevity?
As I asked about her diet and health habits, she recalled different people and life experiences.
“I have the same birthday as Hitler,” she said, “April 20, and I went to his bunker.” She told stories about living in Germany for six years with her husband who was a marine and passed away 15 years ago. Then she talked about homeschooling her two sons.
She told me about her 95-year-old brother (a farmer) and four sisters, ages 93 (a teacher), 89 (a nurse and dietician), 83 (a teacher) and 76 (a nurse educator) all still living and all vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists. She had one other sister who passed away at the age of 40.
She talked seamlessly about the past, present and future. “I’d like to get rid of my computer,” she said. When I asked about the wood elephants lined up in her windowsill, she had a story for each one. She got one in Germany, one in Africa, and another one at the local Goodwill.
Although I had to repeat myself a sometimes because of her hearing, she spoke with the energy and enthusiasm of someone decades younger.
“I’d like to move to New Zealand,” she said at one point. “The fruit they serve here at the Villa doesn’t have any flavor and I can’t afford to buy fresh organic fruit,” she said. “I just read a book about . . . ” and on and on she continued.
Here’s a summary of the health tips I extracted from her stories. These are some of the things she doesn’t do which she believes may have contributed to her longevity:
- she never eats meat
- she doesn’t drink milk (she says it causes colds)
- she never drinks alcohol
- she doesn’t smoke
- she doesn’t drink caffeine (she believes that black tea is especially bad because it’s hard on the heart)
- she avoids sugar most of the time
- she doesn’t use fluoride toothpaste (she mentioned that baking soda and salt are safer)
Here are some of her habits she believes may have contributed to her longevity:
- she has been a vegetarian her whole life
- she worked hard on the family potato farm for many years and she has always included a wide variety of potatoes in her diet
- she used to be a primary school teacher, but she still loves learning, being around people and telling stories
- she drinks homemade smoothies made with fresh or frozen fruit such as berries, banana or apple
- she loves grapefruit juice
- she eats soy products
- she keeps busy and has something to do every day
- she takes enzymes regularly (because her sister who’s a dietician advised her to do so)
- she has access to great doctors in Loma Linda (but some of her prior doctors are dead now)
- she is spiritually active (as a Seventh Day Adventist)
- she has a community of friends she meets with every day (having common meals and social time with others who live in the same retirement villa)
- she does her best to sleep well every night
- she has been drinking distilled water for about 44 years
None of these things surprised me because many of her lifestyle habits are consistent with others who live into their 80s, 90s and beyond. But her distilled water story did stand out.
About 44 years ago, she came down with a debilitating strep/staph infection from well water in Idaho and was in and out of the hospital 32 times to treat cellulitis. This is when she decided to switch to distilled water to avoid going through anything like this again. She made a decision and stuck to it because she didn’t trust the water.
When it came time for me to leave, Margie slowly ascended from her chair and said with a smile, “this old grey mare ain’t what she used to be.” She didn’t want me to leave without seeing more of her recent artwork. She waved me into her bedroom and pulled a painting off the wall.
“You need to see it up close,” she said. “I used acrylics to paint these flowers.” Although I was impressed with the quality and detail of the painting, I was even more fascinated by her dexterity and strength as she leaned over her bed to pull a framed painting off the wall. Most Americans don’t make it to this age and of those who do, not many would be able to do this seemingly simple stretch-balance-strength task. I love being around lifelong learners with a positive attitude. I could have talked with her for days.
The day I met Margie, July 28, 2013, is the day I decided to drink distilled water. I made the switch immediately, beginning with bottled distilled water.
Over the next few weeks I did some research and learned that drinking distilled water is a great way to cleanse your body. Dr. Weil is one of my virtual doctors. When I’m looking for health advice, I often check to see what he has to say about a subject. Dr Weil drinks distilled water and uses it for cooking as well.
So are you ready to chug some H2O? Water is as important to your health as sleep, but remember stop drinking liquids about an hour before you go to bed so you can sleep all night without having to get up to pee. BitofFun
After doing some research on distillers, I ended up choosing the Megahome Water Distiller. It didn’t take me long to conclude that this is the most important appliance in my kitchen.