Britain’s Oldest: Shot-Sipping Centenarian Says Sobriety is For Squares

If this is really the fountain of youth, then I’m like six in whiskey years.

Grace Jones is the oldest young lady in Britain. She celebrated her 112th birthday on September 16, and she credits her long life to whiskey. Grace, or as her friends call her “Amazing Grace,” said she’s been tossing back whiskey for the last six decades.

Grace was born in 1906. The number one hit song on the Billboard charts that year was…nothing, because it hadn’t been invented yet. Grace drank her ass off through two world wars, 26 Prime Ministers, every single World Cup (21). You’re picking up what I’m putting down; Grace has been doing numbers.

Grace’s drink of choice? Famous Grouse. Fun fact, Famous Grouse is only ten years Amazing Grace’s senior. Grace, a retired millinery (lady’s hats) owner, said her whiskey is important to her daily routine. “I never miss my nightcap. All I have is the whiskey at night; whiskey is good for you,” she added.

“I started having a nightly tot of it when I turned 50, so I’ve been having it every night for the last 60 years, and I certainly have no intention of stopping now.” Grace continued to explain she’s been encouraged to enjoy her whiskey “My doctor said ‘keep up with the whiskey Grace, it’s good for your heart.’” Who’s her doctor? Dr. McGillicuddy?

“I still feel the same as I did when I was 60.” Grace explained she’s still in good health. “I feel fine. I feel full spirit. I have received lots of nice cards and presents this year, and they are still coming in. We will be here next year as well.”

Grace lives in Broadway, Worcestershire and is a mother of one. She says her fondest memories are of her husband. “The best memory of my life was when I married my husband, Leonard. He was a true gentleman, the son of a parson. We were always together, and we loved one another.” Grace married Leonard Roderick Jones, a chief engineer, in 1933 in Liverpool. Leonard and Grace were married for 53 years until he passed at age 79 in 1986. She gave birth to her daughter, Deidre in 1938.

Deidre explained how much she adores her mother and her long life. “My mother is extraordinary,” she said. “She’s still very particular over her appearance and insists on always looking her best. Once she married my father, she very much became a lady of leisure.”

Her daughter discussed how her mother is still very active. “She enjoys meeting people and still reads a little and watches television,” Deidre explained. “She is glamorous, beautiful and intelligent. She is really alert and still with it.”

Her elderly daughter has no quarrel with her mother’s logic “She loves her tot of whiskey every evening before she goes to bed and why not? Whiskey is her thing, and she’s been having it for the last 60 years.”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, “I must say I certainly take after her in that regard, it’s the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day and it’s certainly done my mother no end of good,” Deidre added.

Cheers Grace!

Can Holding Infants Change Their DNA?

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital have found out that the amount of physical contact between infants and caregivers can actually affect children down to the molecular level. The researchers studied DNA methyulation patterns and found that children who were more distressed as infants and who had less physical contact had a molecular profile that was rather underdeveloped for their age. This is the first study of its kinds, which has found concrete proof that simple acts of love such as touching and hugging can have lifelong consequences on gene expression. A similar study was conducted in 2013 looking at the amount of care young rats received from a very early age. They also experience consistent differences between epigenetic age and chronological age, something which has been linked to health problems.

The study was published in Development and Psychopathology.  Parents who had 5 week old babies were asked to keep a diary to record their baby’s behavior such as sleeping, crying, feeding, fussing and more importantly, the bodily time spent with caregivers. When the children reached the age of 4 ½ years old, samples of their DNA were taken by swabbing the insides of their cheeks.

The team looked for a biochemical modification called DNA methylation where a few parts of the chromosome are influenced by small molecules made of carbon and hydrogen. These molecules work as switches to control how active each gene becomes, this has consequences on how well cells can function.

Specific areas of the DNA that are affected by methylation are influenced by external conditions during childhood. Scientists were able to find very consistent methylation differences between toddlers that underwent high physical contact and those with low physical contact at five different DNA sites. Two of these sites lie within genes, one has an influence on the immune system and the other is involved with metabolism.

Babies who underwent high distress and received little physical contact has an epigenetic age lower than what would be usually expected, given their actual age at the time. Scientists were able to match this discrepancy with poor health in several follow-up studies.

A team member, Michael Kobor says, “In children, we believe that slower epigenetic ageing could reflect less favorable toward developmental progress.”

Researchers are curious what implications these biological immaturities cause in the physiological and psychological development of children. Until then, further research is required to highlight the importance of providing physical contact to infants, especially when they are in a distressed condition.

A similar research conducted by University of Utah found maternal behavior ‘buffer’ babies against the effects of maternal depression and it can also affect infant’s epigenome.  

Right now, it is too early to tell how conclusive these test results are because we’re talking about less than a hundred babies here. One thing is for sure though, parents should spend more time with their babies, cuddling and caressing them so they have a healthier epigenetic age which is more in line with their chronological age.

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