Optimism, friendship and tidy socks – the secret to living to 100

Marta Zaraska’s book debunks some of the myths of longevity and suggests how to really live a long life – from avoiding loneliness to eating with others

When her daughter was born, Marta Zaraska was determined that nothing but the best would do. “Goji berries, chia seeds, kale: I was going crazy scouring the shops for the healthiest food,” she says. “All these things that I thought would make sure she lived to be 100.” And then it occurred to her that how we live our lives might be more important than the latest miracle food or exercise gadget. Being a science journalist with a training in law, however, she wanted proof.

She began looking through hundreds of academic papers and interviewing scores of researchers about extreme experiments with mice and monkeys, and scary biological phenomena such as zombie cells (AKA senescent cells, the bloated, not-quite dead matter that accumulates as we age, belching out toxins and turning other cells into zombies). Her research expanded beyond the scientific, taking in a Portuguese longevity bootcamp, a Polish hugging salon and a flower-pressing session for Japanese octogenarians before circling back to France, home to the world’s oldest certified centenarian.

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