Shirley MacLaine health: Actress, 87, reveals secret to longevity – ‘I eat what I want’

The star made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry back in 1955, for which she won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year. Since then, the actress has continued to have success within the industry, having won an Academy Award and other prestigious accolades. A couple of years ago, MacLaine spoke with Variety in a wide-ranging interview that looked back on her career, including the things she credits for keeping her youthful and in good health.

“Even though I tell people the truth, I’m not a diva. That comes from my three year old ballet training,” the star began to say.

“I’ve got to go all the way back to that and just hard, honest work, with quite a bit of art, if you can muster it, thrown in.

“I’ve also stayed in the business and never thought about quitting because I wanted to pay for plane tickets to travel.

“I didn’t socialise Hollywood style. I’d rather travel to a country I hadn’t been to. So when I think about my life, I’m not sure I wouldn’t put the travels a bit above show business.”

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As well as keeping herself distanced from the inner trappings of Hollywood, MacLaine said that “not much bothers” her, making her far removed from the short-tempered character she plays in Steel Magnolias.

In an interview with People, MacLaine added: “I think attitudes are a choice. Anger is a choice, peace is a choice, sarcasm — which is what I’m good at — is a choice.

“I have what I consider just a perfect life… I eat what I want, I sleep when I want.”

Now well into her 80s, MacLaine says that her secret to happiness is “not to keep busy”. Spending most of her time at her ranch in New Mexico where she resides for some of the year.

“I have someone who comes in a couple of times a week, but otherwise I’m totally alone,” she added, talking about her home.

“I sometimes go to Santa Fe, which is one of the artistic and restaurant and new age capitals in the country.

“Give it up and learn to amalgamate with nature.

“I have all the animals around me [in New Mexico]. It’s everything I need to be happy.”

On the surface, living in more rural areas in comparison to cities may seem to be more beneficial. In fact, according to David Newby, British Heart Foundation professor of cardiology at the University of Edinburgh, when it comes to air pollution, “being in the country is better for you”.

Roy Harrison, professor of environmental health at the University of Birmingham, agreed saying it is “significantly healthier” to live in the countryside.

He said research shows that air pollution is responsible for an average loss of life expectancy of six months across the UK and most of that is driven by urban populations.

A 2012 government report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found that health aspects such as life expectancy was higher in the countryside, in addition to a lower infant mortality rate.

The report added that the potential years of life lost (PYLL) from life-threatening conditions such as stroke, cancer, and coronary heart disease was lower on all accounts in rural areas in comparison to urban areas in England.

The Mental Health Foundation adds that multiple researchers have found a “fascinating” link between access to green space such as fields, forests, parks and gardens and a reduced risk of mental health problems.

Contrastingly, research from the University of Rome and University of California San Diego back in 2017 found that having a positive outlook, stubbornness and continuing to keep busy could be key to a long life.

Researchers assessed mental and physical health, and also interviewed the participants to get their life stories. Topics included traumatic events, migration and their beliefs. Results found that the oldest participants had high self-confidence, decision-making skills and love for their land.

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