Advice from a 114-Year-Old Woman's Doctor

Advice from a 114-Year-Old Woman's Doctor

Pearl Berg's 114-year-old Woman's Doctor Shares Something We Can All Do to Live Longer—and It Doesn't Cost a Thing.

Pearl Berg, who died this year, lived to be 114 years old, the third-oldest person in the United States and the ninth-oldest person in the world.

Her doctor said she didn't follow any strict diet, exercise habits, or supplement routine.

Research suggests it was an example of the theory that strong social relationships promote longevity.

One of the world's oldest people has successfully crossed the century mark without following a strict diet of kale salads, expensive supplements, or even a specific exercise routine.

Pearl Berg was 114 when she died in February, making her the third-oldest person in the United States and the ninth-oldest in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

According to Dr. Jeremy Lorber, a hematologist-oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles who worked with Berg, the extraordinary thing about her age and her impressive health over the decades is how ordinary she has been.

"What I found rather remarkable was that there wasn't anything strange or unusual that she did or didn't do," he told Business Insider. "It seemed like she was just trying to live life to the fullest."

Life extension is big business right now, exemplified by the multi-million-dollar systems and cutting-edge technology promoted by youth-obsessed entrepreneurs like Brian Johnson. From longevity clinics to trendy nutritional supplements, brands (and influencers) are rushing to capitalize on our desire to postpone the inevitable — even if we have less power than we'd like to believe when postponing death.

"People who focus on longevity may find it a positive feeling to have a sense of control, even if it's not right for everyone," Lorber said. "A lot of it is luck that we don't choose what genes we're born with. I think people have misconceptions about how much control they have."

By contrast, Berg's lifestyle was flexible and logical, especially regarding sweets, her son Robert said in a statement.

He added: "She never smoked, had a sip of wine once a week at most, drank fresh orange juice every morning, ate very little fatty foods, and ate only a modest amount of sweets." "Although when she was 102, some of those restrictions were lifted — she wanted candy every day — by age 106, she asked for candy every morning and afternoon."

What stood out in her routine was her habit of maintaining a strong social network and a sense of purpose, as well as staying involved in the community through her synagogue, book clubs, volunteer work, and other activities.

While basic healthy habits like not smoking or drinking can make a difference, longevity is less about one factor and more about maintaining healthy relationships and staying connected to the world around you because aging can often lead to feeling isolated, Lorber says.

"It kind of reinforced my thinking that there's not one magical thing to do or not do," he said. "The things I've identified in her and other patients who are living long and living well are staying on target, adding things, or doing new things in their lives."

Why are healthy relationships and simple routines good for a long life?

As Berg's example suggests, some of the best strategies for a long, healthy life are free. Habits like maintaining strong relationships, relaxing, and regular gentle exercise like walking, playing games with the family, or gardening have been consistently linked to better odds of living to 100 (or older) without spending much money.

According to Lorber, overcomplicating your routine to improve your lifespan can backfire, especially if you end up giving up things you love or forcing yourself into a strict or stressful routine.

"With all the books and podcasts trying to squeeze every extra hour out of life, you don't want to overly focus on longevity and add interventions that diminish the quality of life," he said.

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