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110 Year Old Arizona Man Credits His Long Life And Health To These 5 Foods Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Background photos: Pixabay (PD)
While several factors impact our lifespan and healthspan—from family history to environment—food plays a key role. What you eat significantly impacts the complex processes in your cells and influences your disease risk. According to a global study published in The Lancet, poor diet was responsible for 255 million disability- adjusted life years (DALYs) and 11 million deaths in 2017. 
On the other side of the spectrum, a healthy diet can offer powerful medicinal properties to prevent or even reverse diseases—all factors that work to boost your longevity. 
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”- Ann Wigmore
So, what should we eat and what should we avoid? We turn to the interesting dietary advice of the late Bernando LaPallo—a centenarian who lived past his 114th birthday.
In a video by ABC15 Arizona, when Mr. LaPallo was 110 years old, he credits diet for his longevity. “People ask me what do you do to stay so young. I say, ‘Well, you’ve heard the old saying, you are what you eat’,” LaPallo explained.
The Life of Bernando LaPallo
The life of Bernando LaPallo began in 1901 in Brazil. This was a time when horses and buggies were the preferred means of transportation, and the first powered aircraft was yet to take flight.
From a young age, Bernando’s father instilled lifelong lessons on how to eat well and live healthily. On his Age Less, Live More website, Mr. LaPallo recounts all the advice and life-enhancing activities that allowed his father to live 98 years—and how he applied the teachings to live even longer.
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My LaPallo developed a passion for culinary and healing arts that took him down an interesting career path as a 5-star chef, massage therapist, herbologist, and reflexologist. His inspiring journey ended on December 19, 2015 (a few months after his 114th birthday) at his home in Texas after his heart stopped.
The Science Behind Bernando’s Longevity Foods
Interestingly, Bernando claimed to have never been sick in his entire life. How? According to the supercentenarian, the secret lies in lifestyle and dietary habits.
He mostly ate organic fruits and vegetables, kept his mind engaged with puzzles, games, and reading, took a walk every morning, stayed away from processed foods, and worked on his spiritual well-being.
In particular, he singled out 5 foods that were a staple in his daily dietary ritual—cinnamon, garlic, olive oil, honey, and chocolate. But what does science say about Mr. LaPallo’s medicine chest?
Organic garlic was a mainstay in Bernando’s daily diet, from smoothies to sauteing his greens. He felt it was a natural immune booster—and research confirms his beliefs.
Several studies suggest that compounds in garlic have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulation effects that help protect you from disease.  This is especially important for older people—with infectious diseases accounting for a significant number of emergency department visits and deaths in the age group. 
Garlic has also been shown to help reduce blood pressure and fight oxidative damage, which contribute to aging. 
Mr. LaPallo used uncooked raw honey as a sweetener and for topical application to help with skin irritations. According to him, honey is “God’s perfect food” and could be the sweet secret to a long, healthy life. And according to research, he was onto something.
High-quality honey is rich in antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative stress.
 It may also help improve heart function, promote wound healing, improve brain health, and fight bacteria. 
Quality raw chocolate is more than a tasty treat; it could be medicine. It’s highly nutritious and a powerful source of antioxidants.14 According to research, chocolate may reduce heart disease risk, decrease ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, improve brain function, and protect against sun damage. 
Cinnamon is a common spice with an ancient background, dating as far as Ancient Egypt. It’s loaded with powerful antioxidants that surpass other ‘superfoods’, including garlic.19
Some potential health benefits of cinnamon include reducing inflammation, reducing blood pressure, protecting against neurogenerative diseases, fighting infections, and protecting against cancer. 
Guess a cuppa cinnamon tea a day keeps the doctor away. A key point to note is that Bernando used ‘true’ cinnamon from Ceylon. This differs from Cassia cinnamon, the cheaper variety you’ll likely find on a store shelf.  Cassia cinnamon contains higher amounts of coumarin—a compound that could be harmful in large doses. 
5. Olive Oil
You could easily mistake Mr. LaPallo for a much younger age due to his relatively wrinkle-free skin. He attributed his skin health to a dutiful use of extra virgin oil after a hot shower.
Olive oil is rich in several vitamins that benefit the skin. These include vitamins E, K, A, and D. It’s also loaded with powered antioxidants that may prevent premature aging when applied topically.  Olive oil also has antibacterial properties that may help fight bacteria on the skin.
What Can We Learn from Bernando?
While genetics and environmental factors may impact your longevity, eating and lifestyle habits could be key to living to a ripe old age. The path to a long healthy life is partly in your control—and there’s no time like the present to fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods. But even as you make conscious efforts to upgrade your diet with healthy foods, keep an eye on the quality of your foods.
And remember that there’s more to longevity and graceful aging than just diet. Exercise regularly, avoid toxins, sleep better, and take care of your mental health.
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