Bolivian says ancient Andean diet has kept him alive for 123 years

Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:34am EDT
 
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By Santiago Limachi

FRASQUIA, Bolivia (Reuters) - Bolivian indigenous farmer Carmelo Flores, who could be the oldest person to have ever lived, attributes his longevity to quinoa grains, riverside mushrooms and around-the-clock chewing of coca leaves.

Speaking in the 4,000-metre (13,123-feet) high hamlet where he lives in a straw-roofed hut, Flores says the traditional Andean diet has kept him alive for 123 years.

"Potatoes with quinoa are delicious," said Flores in Aymara, the only language the nearly deaf man speaks.

It is impossible to verify Flores' age as the poor, landlocked South American country only started issuing official birth certificates in 1940.

But he says his baptism certificate lists his birthday as July 16, 1890 and he has national identity documents based on the certificate.

Bolivia's Civil Registry Office says it is looking into the validity of the documents and cannot comment until the investigation is completed.

Still, many in Bolivia are already celebrating Flores' longevity. A local government official plans to award him the title of "Living Heritage of Humanity" on August 26.

The title of oldest human being ever to have lived belongs to France's Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122 in 1997, according to the Guinness World Records organization. Guinness did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Flores.   Continued...

 
Aymara Indian Carmelo Flores (R) and his son Cecilio joke during a Reuters TV interview in his hometown of Frasquia, 110km (68 miles) north of La Paz, August 16, 2013. REUTERS/David Mercado