Por­ridge for break­fast, sup­per se­cret of fam­ily’s longevity

The Press - - World -

BRI­TAIN: With a com­bined age of 1075 years and 68 days, the 13 Don­nelly sib­lings of County Ar­magh in North­ern Ire­land can proudly lay claim to be­ing the world’s old­est fam­ily.

In­deed their abil­ity to defy the pass­ing years has seen them achieve a Guin­ness world record. But what can now be re­vealed is the se­cret be­hind the fam­ily’s longevity - tra­di­tional por­ridge oats.

Hav­ing grown up on a farm, their diet has al­ways been made up of lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents; freerange pigs and chick­ens for ba­con and eggs and veg­eta­bles grown in their back­yard.

How­ever, the Don­nelly clan are con­vinced that what has re­ally guar­an­teed their long life is their habit of eat­ing por­ridge, not just for break­fast every day but for sup­per, too.

‘‘The key is that you need to get your oats at night,’’ said Leo Don­nelly, who at 72 is the youngest of the sib­lings. ’’We’ve al­ways fol­lowed Daddy’s habit of that nice warm bite be­fore sleep. Por­ridge at around 10pm, then por­ridge again for break­fast at 7am. Cooked oats, milk, per­haps a spot of jam on top. It has al­ways stood us well, por­ridge be­fore sleep and af­ter sleep. Peo­ple thought it was un­usual, but now the proof is there for all to see.’’

The fam­ily’s reliance on oats and their ap­par­ently ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on their health and years have prompted sci­en­tists at the In­ter­na­tional Longevity Cen­tre (ILC) to launch a study of the Don­nellys’ diet.

Por­ridge has been shown to lower blood pres­sure, com­bat di­a­betes, re­duce choles­terol and pro­tect the body against heart dis­ease. Oats are nat­u­rally high in vi­ta­min B-12, a cru­cial com­po­nent in reg­u­lat­ing the body’s mela­tonin lev­els and sleep­ing pat­terns. The grain is also nat­u­rally loaded with beta-glu­can, a ‘‘magic ge­nie’’ that low­ers ‘‘bad’’ LDL choles­terol and re­duces heart dis­ease.

Por­ridge was la­belled a su­per­food when it was dis­cov­ered that avenan­thramides, an­tiox­i­dants that are only found in oats, min­imise plaque build-up in artery walls and re­duce the hard­en­ing of ar­ter­ies.

But for the Don­nellys, tuck­ing into a bowl of por­ridge is just part of their fun­da­men­tally whole­some diet and life­style, which also sees them steer clear of al­co­hol.

‘‘The farm oats in our por­ridge were al­ways lo­cal and of the finest qual­ity,’’ said Leo. ‘‘Our diet has never been from pro­cessed or pol­luted foods.

‘‘We worked with na­ture, ev­ery­thing eaten was ei­ther grown or reared by us. Mummy would say go out­side and wring a chicken’s neck, that would be for din­ner.

‘‘The veg­eta­bles we ate we had grown, the fruit we ate we picked.

‘‘There was never a fat Don­nelly raised.’’ - Tele­graph Group

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull re­acts dur­ing an ad­dress to me­dia at the Com­mon­wealth Par­lia­men­tary Of­fices, Syd­ney.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

The Don­nelly sib­lings - the world’s old­est fam­ily.

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