Though life expectancy in the United States declined for the second year in a row in 2017, Americans are still projected to live to about 78.6 years. However, women can expect to live to about 81.1 years over men's 76.1 years. So how does one make it to 113, the age of Francisco Nunez Olivera, who was the oldest man in the world? Though the world's oldest man died just one month after celebrating his 113th birthday, Francisco Olivera is leaving a legacy behind.
According to the Daily Mail, he was only 10 years old when World War I broke out. Born on December 13, 1904 Olivera had four children, nine grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren. He lived in the Spanish village of Bienvenida for most of his life and had become something of an icon there. As Bienvenida Mayor Antonio Carmona told local media via the Daily Mail, "In recent years he has meant a lot to us, he has represented our village and he has helped make us known and loved." The day of his passing was declared a day of mourning in the village in southwestern Spain.
So what did he attribute his longevity to in the time before he passed? Well, to begin with, environment is key. He was one of 32 people over age 90 in the entire village, of which there are about 2,200 inhabitants. As the Daily Mail reported, Spain also has one of the highest life expectancies in the world that's credited to the country's Mediterranean diet. His eating habits, however, speak volumes.
Relatives of Olivera told the publication that he "credited his long life to a diet based on vegetables he grew on his own land and a daily glass of red wine." Additionally, he ate a "sponge cake made with olive oil and a glass of milk" for breakfast each morning. Until he was 107, he went out for daily walks alone each day. He remained in good health with no major aches or pains until he peacefully passed.
Mayor Carmona cited the village's way of life as a solid foundation for Olivera's years. Before his passing, on his 113th birthday, Carmona stated, "He's a living example of the quality of life in the municipality, but also of the pollution-free skies and countryside and stress-free work of the traditional way of life." While Olivera's date of birth was difficult to prove because Bienvenida's public archives were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.
Olivera fought in the Rif War in the Rif Mountains, had been a widower since 1988, survived the brutal dictatorship of General Franco, and was even known around the village as Marchena, "due to his likeness to a Spanish flamenco singer [Pepe Marchena] that used that stage name."
Following Olivera's passing, the oldest man in the world is now Masazou Nonaka, who was born on July 25, 1905 and is 112 years old. So if you needed another reason to start that spring garden this year and grow your own vegetables, let Olivera's inspiration guide you. And don't forget the wine!
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