How do you live well into your second century? 114-year-old Bernando LaPallo, Jr. has some suggestions. Looking at his supple skin and hearing him talk, you may guess that he is perhaps around 70 years old–if that. He has a cane but hardly uses it as he vibrantly saunters through the room with a healthy dose of charm and charisma. I met him when he was honored at the 4th Annual Senior Awards Luncheon in Phoenix, Arizona on September 25, 2015 hosted by Diana Gregory Outreach Services Foundation. Bernando has followed his father’s simple yet effective healthy living advice for over 100 years and has never been sick a day of his life.
Born in Brazil in 1901, Bernando moved with his family to the United States in 1906 where he was raised by his father, a practicing doctor and herbalist in Philadelphia. He raised his own family in Harlem, experiencing the cultural renaissance first-hand with friends such as the Baptist pastor and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Ed Smalls of the famous jazz club, Small’s Paradise–where my father was a manager in the 1940s. Bernando later moved to Queens with his wife Georgette.
Bernando’s primary interest was in food so he studied the culinary arts at the Sorbonne in Paris, graduating in 1928. He worked as a chef on steam liners and at hotel resorts. He then pursued an interest in the healing arts, studying massage at The Swedish Institute in New York City. At the age of 73, he went on to NYU to become licensed as a reflexologist and podiatrist. He had a successful private massage practice in New York City for more than 20 years. After living in New York for 90 years, he moved to North Carolina briefly before settling down in Mesa, Arizona.
In his book, Beyond 100: How to Live Well Into Your Second Century, he says “without your health you are nothing.” Some of his “secrets” for energy and longevity include:
1. Strive for obedience and moderation. Do what you know is right (e.g. what and how to eat, how long to exercise). Don’t just say you’re going to do it…take action consistently. Also, don’t do anything in excess. Moderation in everything is key.
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Bernando is primarily a vegetarian who loves all kinds of berries and melons–preferably organic–and he believes mushrooms heal and prevent diseases like cancer and diabetes. Other favorites include applesauce, avocado, carrots, cabbage, sweet potato and spinach.
3. Keep your colon clean. Juicing can help cleanse the body. Drink two glasses of fresh vegetable juice a day and cut down on added sugar. Bernando is a big fan of apple cider vinegar.
4. Drink plenty of water. All the water Bernando drinks–a half a gallon a day-is boiled and then put in the ice box to eliminate toxins. He believes that no germs can live under conditions of extreme heat or cold.
5. Get at least six hours of sleep a night. He is generally in bed by 9:30pm and up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning.
6. Exercise your body and mind. Bernando likes to exercise his arms as he walks and he does crossword puzzles to give the brain a boost. He follows the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a thousand pounds of cure.”
7. Relax! Bernando learned from his father that stress is a killer. He says that, “We live for a comparatively brief moment in time. We will be dead for a long time. Enjoy every moment while you are alive.”
BONUS TIP: Use organic extra-virgin olive oil for supple skin. Bernando rubs his body down with olive oil after his morning shower. His skin is vibrant and seems nearly wrinkle-free which is amazing!
Curiosity, a sense of adventure and not having regrets are part of his philosophy. Instead of saying he has had a good life (like the best part is over), he says he is having a great life! Before you lament that you are too old or too tired to do something, think of Bernando. This supercentenarian shows us what is possible through clean and conscious living.