Luigi Cornaro and the simple life

Luigi Cornaro

A Venetian nobleman on the brink of death discovered a way to stay healthy and alert to the ripe old age of 102. He lived in the 15 century, and his name was Luigi Cornaro (1464-1566).

At that time, Venice was a thriving commercial port — one of the main shipping hubs in Europe — and a life of abundance with little thought for health was the norm for all wealthy people there. What also factors into the equation is the average life expectancy during that time, which was somewhere around 40 years. Yet Luigi Cornaro was a nobleman who chose to live a balanced life, eat a healthy diet, and lived to 102 years. That is truly remarkable.

How did he do it?! It’s really no mystery. At the age of 83, he wrote a treatise on the subject, entitled “Tratatto de la vita sobria”, followed by three more treatises on the same subject, published at the ages of 86, 91 and 95, respectively. In his treatises, he described in detail just how he lived his life and what he ate, hoping that others would follow his advice and reap the same benefits.

He believed in consuming the best quality and most easily digestible foods in small amounts. He reduced his food intake, cutting it down to twelve ounces a day of solid foods, divided into two meals with fourteen ounces of light wine, also divided into two servings. He sometimes ate a little beef, but mostly he would eat one egg yolk, vegetable soup, coarse, unrefined bread, salads, small quantities of locally grown fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, and he’d drink slightly fermented wine. His stomach didn’t agree with fish or chicken, so he avoided them.

The amazing part is that all his faculties stayed intact and even better, improved with age, right up to the day of his death. He had no memory loss, his eyesight and hearing grew keener with the years, and he was able to stay active, physically and mentally, in his advanced age. In his nineties, he even studied singing and horseback riding.

His writings are now part of the public domain and thus freely available for download. If you want to live a healthy life, do yourself a favor and read through them. Google Books, has an 1833 English translation of his writings, entitled “Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life“, translated and edited by Sylvester Graham. You can download the entire book as a PDF there, or here on my site (see 1st PDF below). You can also download an abridged version of Cornaro’s writings as a 6-page PDF (see 2nd link below). It was sent to me via email, and am not sure who its translator is, but would be glad to give credit if someone will contact me.

If you’re interested in modern advice on the subject, US News recently published an article entitled “10 Healthy Habits that Will Help You Live to 100“. They didn’t mention Cornaro, but their advice is easy to follow, if you’ve got the willpower.

Download Luigi Cornaro’s writings: