IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
https://media-cldnry.s-nbcnews.com/image/upload/rockcms/2024-02/103-year-old-woman-longevity-lessons-zz-240227-13-8f1433.jpg
Kendra Bryant for TODAY

103-year-old Jamaican grandma shares powerful lessons in living life to the fullest

Pearl Taylor has become a star on TikTok, where she gives her advice about happiness, love and healthy habits.

/ Source: TODAY

At 103, Pearl Taylor lives on her own, exercises by walking in Walmart, credits a special diet for her health and dishes out life advice on TikTok, where she is known as the “Jamaican grandma.”

What is the secret to a long life? “Love. I really love myself,” she said in one viral clip. “You have got to think about yourself first. You help yourself first.”

She expands on that advice when a reporter calls.

“Whatever our life is, we create it. We have to take responsibility, good or bad,” Taylor, who lives in Dayton, Ohio, tells TODAY.com.

“It’s all about you. It’s not about anything out there. It’s all how you perceive.”

The centenarian has a sharp mind. When it comes to physical health, she can navigate the stairs of her two-story home and, until recently, walked without a walker. She’s never had cancer, though she has a pacemaker to regulate her heartbeat.

Pearl Taylor.
Kendra Bryant for TODAY

Her granddaughter, who’s been posting videos of Taylor on TikTok, says it’s wonderful to see her grandma thrive at 103.

“A lot of her longevity stems from her hyper independence, the fact that she has lived on her own all these years, has eaten really healthy and stayed fairly active … in addition to her positive mindset,” Taylor Bernal, 34, tells TODAY.com.

Here’s what to know about her life, longevity and healthy habits:

She’s proud of her multicultural roots

Taylor and her four sisters were born in Cuba, where her parents met. Taylor’s father was from Pakistan, and her mother was from Jamaica. The family moved to Jamaica — then under British rule — when she was 3, and she was educated on the island.

“I was raised with so many different nationalities,” she recalls.

In 1947, Taylor moved to the U.S. and eventually settled in Ohio.

“She was living in a community where there weren’t a lot of people who looked like her. I think a lot of that definitely impacted the lives of the family,” her granddaughter says.

“She really stood up for their rights and wanting to create a beautiful life for them.”

Pearl.
Kendra Bryant for TODAY

“I have done very well, I have wonderful friends,” Taylor adds.

She was married to a Jamaican man for 20 years, then divorced.

Her second marriage was to an American man — a union that lasted for 37 years until his death at age 80.

She cooks her own meals

One of the TikTok videos features Taylor in her kitchen frying a golden-brown caramelized plantain.

She believes home cooking is important for good health and likes to cook her own meals.

“My family, they always have a stomach problem, and I think it’s what they eat,” she says, pointing to the typical American diet.

“Beef and chicken. They have pork because they like ribs. I do, too — once in a while.”

Taylor eats a lot of fish, but little red meat. She loves vegetables and salads. Occasional indulgences have place in her diet, too: She likes ice cream, sweet wine and chips.

Longevity runs in her family

Pearl Taylor.
Kendra Bryant for TODAY

One of her four sisters lived to be 104, another reached 100 and another passed away at 93.

The only sister who didn’t make it to old age had diabetes and passed away in her 60s.

She credits a special green juice for her good health

Taylor once had an acquaintance who owned a health food store and “taught me a lot of stuff,” she recalls.

She didn’t have a pot in her house — everything was raw. I tried, but I couldn’t do it,” she says.

But one recipe stuck. Every other day, Taylor drinks a glass of green juice that contains:

  • fresh aloe vera chopped into cubes
  • kale
  • parsley
  • ginger
  • celery
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered greens she gets at a health food store
  • water
  • sweetener to make it taste better — Taylor uses Splenda

“My digestion is really great. And I’ve been doing it for about 30 years,” she says. Taylor also credits her healthy skin to her diet.

She eats papaya every morning

More people need to learn about papaya, Taylor says. Her family grew the fruit when she was a child in Jamaica, so she loves to eat it every morning. But she finds many Americans don’t know about it.

Papaya is high in potassium and contains fiber, vitamins A, C and E, plus antioxidants such as lycopene, according to the American Heart Association.

“Papaya is an excellent fruit,” Taylor notes. “I have a couple of slices and half a banana. I’ve doing that for years.”

She also likes to drink hibiscus tea, made from a tropical flower that’s rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and supports liver health, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

She exercises by walking in Walmart

Taylor likes shopping for her own groceries, so a family member will drop her off at Walmart. She says she can walk for two hours in the big box retailer as she chooses the items she wants.

Up until last year, the centenarian walked without any issues, but a recent back injury means she now uses a walker.

She asks for what she needs

Life is all about love and peace, but you also have to be proactive, Taylor says.

Her motto is: Ask and you shall receive. Some people are reluctant to do it, fearing they’ll be a bother, but “it’s not true — ask,” she says in one of the TikTok videos.

After an acquaintance gave Taylor the classic self-help book “The Game of Life and How To Play It,” she sought to learn more about how to thrive and be fulfilled.

Pearl.
Kendra Bryant for TODAY

Self-love is the only way you can feel happy because when love is coming from you, you can extend it to others, she explains.

Bernal is proud to see her grandmother be an inspiration to women of color and other people who’ve seen her on TikTok.

“She sets a really great example of loving yourself and keeping yourself very healthy with a great mindset,” she says.