The secret to longevity – quality public healthcare?

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There’s a couple of questions, no doubt, all of us will ask in our lifetime; how do I live longer and how much longer can I expect to live for?

The paralyzing fear of ceasing to exist devours the very duration of our existence. We are now, perhaps more than ever before, consulting health, fitness and lifestyle magazines to extend our all-too-short innings, consuming information on how-to improve our diets and wellbeing from a random selection of unreliable blogs on the internet.

What does longevity really come down to?

Misao Okawa, born March 5 1898, passed away on Wednesday due to heart failure, and the astonishing age of 117. She had recently celebrated her 117th birthday where she stated she was “very happy” to have lived to 117, although “life seems short”. Her death means the number of those living amongst us who were born in the 1800s is now just four.

Okawa on her 117th birthday.

The world was a very different place when Okawa was born on one March day in 1898. Tokyo, Japan’s capital and largest city was a now fast-growing fishing town, with a population of 1.4 million. That number is now more than 30 million.

Ito Hirobumi, who died in 1909, was Prime Minister of Japan. Okawa went on to witness the reigns of more than 60 Prime Ministers.

Richard Seddon was Prime Minister of New Zealand and Robert Cecil Britain’s. William McKinley was serving as President of the United States. Australia did not yet have a position from Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. And the world’s population had just reached 1.5 billion.

A long period to live from. The births of new nations to the fall of empires – Okawa witnessed it all. What was the secret to her success? That question is already trending wildly on Google since the world was notified of her death a matter of hours ago.

Some might suggest it was down to Mrs Okawa’s diet, which, according to her family, most consisted of the timeless Japanese dish Sushi.

But some have gone further, stating it was not exclusively the personal choices of Mrs Okawa which resulted in her longevity. If it wasn’t the Sushi, what was it then? Why is Japan constantly breaking the longevity records, and why are countries like the United States no longer doing so well, despite their population size?

The Young Turks commentary team discussed the coloration between longevity and quality public healthcare systems on Okawa’s 116th birthday:

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