Costa Rican Longevity




idyllic support peninsula
coast located proximity
air identify celebrate
zone research longevity
forever land (2) around (3)
trait separate centenarian
herbs relevant couple (2)
wood stand to junk food
porch stuff (2) spend/spent/spent (2)
fill artificial exposure
extend common extended family
factor scientist surrounded
staple obvious investigate
involve lime (2) traditional
husk calcium contribute
soften weaken strengthen
access spiritual produce (2)
factor genetics spark (2)
air machete agrochemicals
sort of tend (2) permanent
tortilla fresh (2) share (3)
dozen grow up treasure (2)
chop achieve all over the world
long time to come







Panchita Castillo. Raineri Fonseca. Jose Guevara. Andres Lopez.

They are some of the dozens of people who are more than a hundred years old living on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

It is an idyllic finger of land located on the country’s Pacific coast. The weather is good. The air is fresh. Life is simple.

People seem like they want to live forever.

But there is much more to the secret of longevity on the peninsula. Researchers say Nicoya is one of five zones around the world that house an unusually high number of centenarians.

Years of study have identified four separate traits that scientists say are shared by centenarians living in all those zones around the world:

1) Proximity to family and friends.
2) Diet.
3) A certain level of physical activity.
4) And a spiritual life.

At one-hundred and nine (109) Panchita is the oldest living person in Costa Rica. She is a great-great-great-great grandmother. She was born in Nicoya in 1906.

She still receives daily visits from ninety-three (93) year old Pablo, her youngest son.

Pablo, Youngest Son: “Mom! How are you doing?”
Panchita, 109: “I’m doing well. How are you?”
Pablo, Youngest Son: “Good as well.”

Up until a couple of years ago, Panchita would still chop wood, and tend to her garden. She now spends her days with her families, sitting on their front porch.

Family Member: “She always enjoyed life. She never needed anything. She always ate healthy food. I am sixty-six (66) years old, and I remember we always ate healthy food, not like today. As she says, now everything is filled with artificial stuff.”

Not too far away, a hundred-and-two (102) year old Andres Lopez still likes to take a machete in hand to help clear his land.

Staying physically active is common to the centenarians of Nicoya.

And like Panchita, Andres is still surrounded by his children and their extended families.

Diet. It is one of the factors scientist look at the most when investigating Costa Rica’s centenarians.

Cook: “This is one of the staples of the Costa Rican diet: Rice and beans.”

Tortilla are a staple for all meals in the Costa Rican diet. Traditional methods for making them involve the use of lime to soften corn husks. The lime contributes calcium that strengthens bones that weaken in old age.

But nutritionist say that access to that kind of healthy diet, that include natural herbs and fresh produce, is nowadays not that easy. Today’s centenarians grew up in times when healthy food was more common.

Nutrition is but one factor involved in keeping people healthy as they age.

Nutritionist: “There’s likely more than one secret to their longevity. Nutrition is just one factor. Genetics could be another.

But there also has to be an environment that favors longevity too: clean air. Little exposure to agrochemicals and junk food.

There is also usually some sort of permanent physical activity.

Food is what gives us energy. We need food to live. That’s why it’s so obvious.

Jose Guevara just celebrated his one-hundred-and-sixth birthday. He says he still feels relevant. His family life is his support system.

Costa Rica treasures its centenarians. They have sparked interest from all over the world. Examples of what they say, a good simple lifestyle can achieve.

And with the largest population of people over the age of eighty, the Nicoya Peninsula stands to continue producing centenarians for a long time to come.


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Costa Rica. People all over Costa Rica live very long, healthy lives. True or false?

Is the Nicoya Peninsula unique in the world, in terms of longevity?

Does every zone of longevity have unique secrets of long life? What are their common factors?

The centenarians mostly sit at home and watch TV all day. Is this right or wrong? What are some of their physical activities?

Do the elderly regularly eat hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and donuts?

Mexico. Is the Nicoya Peninsula healthier than San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica?

Elderly people are respected by younger people. Is this correct or incorrect?


Are there regions or villages in your country where people live long, healthy lives? Why are they long-lived?

I know some centenarians or very old people. Yes or no? Describe their habits or lifestyles.

Are there many books, magazine and newspaper articles, TV programs, gyms and health clubs?

What might happen in the future?

What are some secrets to a long, healthy life?


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