Texas woman becomes oldest person living in US at 114. What's her secret?

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Elizabeth Francis (centre) receives her oldest living Texan plaque from Ben Meyers, the CEO of LongeviQuest with Franciss granddaughter Ethel Harrison next to her. — Business Insider via LongeviQuest
Elizabeth Francis (centre) receives her "oldest living Texan" plaque from Ben Meyers, the CEO of LongeviQuest with Francis's granddaughter Ethel Harrison next to her. — Business Insider via LongeviQuest

Elizabeth Francis born in 1909 became the oldest person living in the United States and her family believes her healthy lifestyle has helped her survive an entire century, Business Insider reported.

The 114-year-old Louisiana–born woman who moved to Texas in 1920 claimed the title from Edie Ceccarelli, who died at the age of 116 years last week of an unknown cause.

She has lived with her 94-year-old daughter, Dorothy Williams, since 1999, Today reported last summer.

Francis, who is now bedbound, also has some memory problems, but she's mentally alert and recognises her family, according to Williams.

When researchers from LongeviQuest, an organisation that verifies the ages of supercentenarians, visited her for her 114th birthday in July, she held court for visitors for four hours.

While Francis credits her longevity to her "good Lord", her family thinks a few lifestyle factors have contributed to her long life.

Healthy diet

This image shows a basket containing a range of vegetables including an eggplant, bell pepper, some radishes, and leafy greens. — Pixabay
This image shows a basket containing a range of vegetables including an eggplant, bell pepper, some radishes, and leafy greens. — Pixabay

According to her granddaughter Ethel Harrison, Francis has maintained her health by walking regularly and never smoking or drinking alcohol until her 90s.

She cooked using vegetables from her garden, such as collard greens, mustard greens, carrots, and okra and never ate fast food.

"Whenever you went to her house, I don't care what day of the week, she was cooking. So I just think that had a lot to do with it," Harrison said of her grandmother's longevity.

Dietitians typically recommend people centre their diets around whole foods, with one study suggesting that eating more plants and less processed food could add a decade to a person's life.

Family time

A representational image showing a family hanging out at a beach. — Pixabay
A representational image showing a family hanging out at a beach. — Pixabay

Francis also spends a lot of time with her family. Harrison visits her mother and grandmother at their house most days, and she told Today that they're "always doing things together as a family unit".

Research suggests having strong relationships and socialising are associated with a longer, healthier life.

Hard work

Francis, a single mother, demonstrated a strong work ethic, supporting her family by doing domestic tasks even after retirement, Harrison revealed.

LongeviQuest researchers have said that working for as long as possible was common among the supercentenarians they'd met, while a 2016 study found that retiring early increased the risk of death.