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8 Ways To Live a Really Long Time, According to The Oldest People Ever

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Official studies have claimed that in order to live a very long life, it is important to maintain friendships, to keep a positive attitude, not to stress out too much, and to just have really amazing genes. Apparently, it also helps if you are a woman. But can that be it? Or is there an ultimate, literal life hack that we are all missing? Here are some seemingly odd ways that centenarians and supercentenarians (a person who lives at least 110 years) claimed helped them live such a long time.

1. DRINK A MYSTERIOUS ELIXIR

When he turned 108 years old, former Army Chaplain and minister Reg Dean gave out the usual spiel on the secrets to longevity, claiming there were five things to remember: "Good friends, a religion, looking for the best in people not the worst, and being a vegetarian for 30 years have all helped ... but I can't remember the other one." Two years later, his son filled the press in on what that fifth secret was: "When he was out in India, just before World War I, he was given an elixir by a local there. He did a favour for one of the locals and this guy said, 'drink this and you'll live til at least 100.'" Dean supposedly drank the "muddy mixture," and lived to be 110.

2. MAKE OLIVE OIL YOUR EVERYTHING

Jeanne Calment passed away on August 4, 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days old, still the longest confirmed human lifespan on record. The Arles, France-born Calment—who recalled witnessing the Eiffel Tower being built—smoked two cigarettes a day for almost 100 years. The habit was so strong that Calment only quit when she was 117 and too blind to see well enough to light her own cigarettes. Jeanne credited her long, long, long life to drinking Port wine every day, eating two pounds of chocolate every week, and keeping a sense of humor. Most prevalent of all was extra virgin olive oil—Clement consumed a rich diet of the stuff, which she put in everything but milk, and also rubbed on her skin.

3. BUTT OUT

Besse Berry Cooper-Brown was a retired Georgia school teacher who lived to be 116. She took pride in her mostly spotless voting record—since 1920, when the 19th Amendment was passed allowing women to vote, she had only missed voting twice. Those two years were 2012, when her health was finally starting to fail her, and in 1948, when she was one of many who erroneously believed that a Thomas Dewey victory was a lock.

Cooper predictably credited refusing to eat junk food as one reason for living so long, but she also said that her secret was "staying out of others' business."

4. EAT BACON

Susannah "Miss Susie" Mushatt Jones is currently the oldest living resident of New York. As a reward for never smoking, drinking alcohol, partying, wearing makeup, or dyeing her hair, the 115-year-old Jones enjoys eating four strips of bacon every morning, in addition to scrambled eggs and grits. One of her nieces claimed that if she doesn't have her gum, barbecue chicken, or beloved bacon, you'll get "told off." Another niece theorized that only being married for "about five years" and never having children was good for Susannah's health.

5. BOOZE IT UP

Emma Morano is currently the oldest living person in Europe. Morano too made a point to mention that she enjoys chocolate on occasion, but Emma also consumes three eggs and drinks a glass of homemade brandy every day.

Staten Island, New York resident Nancy Lamperti, 101, was born in Italy, and she also drinks alcohol—but unlike Emma, she drinks wine. And Southern Comfort. And Budweiser. Every day.

6. DRINK BOILED WATER AND SMOKE CIGARS

Christian Mortensen passed away in 1998 at 115 years and 252 days old. He gave credit to living for so long to friends, no alcohol, staying positive, singing, a good cigar, and drinking lots of good water—specifically, boiled water. He claimed that moderation was the key to being able to smoke cigars throughout his long life.

Another supercentenarian cigar aficionado was Walter Breuning, a man who remembered getting his first haircut on the day of the assassination of President William McKinley. Breuning actually quit smoking when he turned 103 because they became too expensive, but started smoking again years later when he began receiving cigars as gifts.

7. EAT UNTIL YOU'RE 80 PERCENT FULL

Jiroemon Kimura passed away last June at 116 years and 54 days old, and is currently the verified oldest man in recorded history. A former post office worker, Kimura lived in his later years with his grandson's widow in a two-story wooden house. He ate a breakfast of porridge and miso soup with potatoes and vegetables every day, kept a positive attitude, and always paid attention to contemporary politics in his native Japan. His motto was “to eat light and live long," never smoking, only moderately drinking alcohol, and eating until he is 80 percent full. How you can tell exactly when you are 80 percent full is something that Kimura never got a chance to elaborate on.

8. EAT BEE POLLEN AND HONEY

Maine native Fred Hale Sr. was 113 when he passed away in November 2004, a few weeks after witnessing his beloved Boston Red Sox win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. At 108, he became the Guinness record holder for oldest driver and was allegedly still getting annoyed at people he believed to be driving too slowly. Fred said he partook in the "occasional nip" of whiskey, and every day ate bee pollen and honey. His snack choice might have something to do with the fact that Hale retired in 1957 as a railroad postal worker, and beekeeper.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

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That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

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ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

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5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

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6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

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8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

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11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

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12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy chomping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

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14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

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17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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