The health secrets of Teta Montaha, 107 years old.
For many years I had a dream to visit Lebanon, the land of the Canaanite and the Phoenicians. My knowledge consisted mainly of impressions of a nation that had been war-torn since the seventies, suffering both civil war and occupation by foreign countries. My curiosity grew stronger as I read the many beautiful biblical descriptions about Lebanon (meaning the white one, the snow-capped mountains).
“A garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon” (Song of Solomon 4:15). God must have seen to my heart as a beautiful woman from Lebanon came to our clinic with a longstanding and serious health problem. It became my privilege to restore health and balance into her life, for which she and her family expressed their gratitude by inviting me to Lebanon.
Meeting Teta Montaha
My first meeting with Teta Montaha, 96 at the time, can best be described as a warm, electric and illuminating event. The petite old lady radiated kindness and vibrating energy, rarely seen at her age: Beautiful strong blue eyes and a wonderful smile. She thanked me profoundly for helping her granddaughter Raymonde, the apple of her eye, to a new lease of life.
During the festive dinner and celebrations I asked my most pertinent question: “What is your secret Teta?” (Grandmother in Lebanese). How have you managed to stay so healthy and happy all these years?”
She had survived 5 wars in her beloved Lebanon and experienced the massacre in Damour, her hometown, on 20.January 1976 where an estimated 582 civilians died. Many of them were close relatives and friends of Teta, as these were attacked by PLO and driven out into the sea.
She also witnessed her grandchild Raymonde being shot and almost killed by a sniper just outside her flat. Two innocent people were shot and killed on the same spot the same day Raymonde was hit.
Here I was sitting next to a very remarkable woman, enjoying sumptuous Lebanese cuisine. The Spanish have their tapas, the Romanian their mezeluri, the Italians their antipasto, but the Lebanese mezze beats them all!!
An array of small dishes placed in front of you, full of different colors, textures, flavours and aromas. There is fresh fish and meat, usually lamb with garlic, olive oil and spices. A typical mezze will consist of an elaborate variety of thirty or so hot and cold dishes, including the tabboluleh, the queen of the table, and hummus. There’s baba ganoush, kebbeh and sambusac, baked pastry with a savoury filling such as potatoes and ground lamb and beef or chicken with onions, peas and lentils, pickled vegetables and bread. Also included is a selection of fresh fruit or baklava, a rich sweet pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey or syrup.
As the conversation flowed and laughter filled the room, Teta reminisced about the days back home in Damour when she used to pluck oranges and rosebuds to make rose-and-orange water. Nobody could replicate the delicate aroma and taste that flowed from Teta`s loving, caring hands.
Until this day-and she is now 107 years old and still going strong with a clarity of thinking and memory that much younger people have a hard time keeping up with,- her orange-and-rose -blossom water recipe is still a secret.
But her health secrets she shares freely!
Teta’s 10 ten health secrets
On the occasion of her 107 birthday, which is sometime in January, here they are:
- Have faith in your Lord Yeshua. He has carried me through all the hardships, sorrow and travail and never let me down. She emphasised her faith several times. She belongs to the Maronite Church in Beirut which she has attended on a regular basis.
- Water, Clean and vital water to drink. Immaculate hygiene throughout the house.
- Nutritious food prepared with tender, love and care, from fresh vegetables and fruit, a little meat and fish, but never pork, whole grains, seeds, herbs and spices, highest quality olive oils, natural butter, never margarine, light products or hydrolyzed vegetable oils, animal fats, whole milk products, yogurt. Total absence of additives, preservatives or chemicals in food. Natural salt when cooking. Vinegar and olive oil on salads.
- A walk a day. Active in and around the house.
- Eat regularly but relatively small portions each mealtime.
- Peace of mind. Despite wars, massacre and personal loss, she had remained calm with an inner conviction of faith.
- Rest “Forty winks” in the afternoon. Unwind. Do not stress.
- Lots of laughter. Here I might add that the Lebanese have a great sense of humour and their language is colorful and rich on puns as they play with words. They are masters of self-irony.
- The importance of good, supporting and loving family relations. Prevention is smarter and better than cure.
- The strong love of their country and Beirut, the “Pearl of the Middle East”
The above is almost the same as I teach all my clients and students in Norway. Real scientific proof confirming what Teta Montaha has been practicing all her life!
Congratulations on your 107 birthday! May God continue to bless you with great health.
For more tips on leading a healthy lifestyle register for my newsletter below. I’ll send you a free recipe plus lots of other tips so you can get the best from your life.
Several food recipes of Lebanese cuisine can also be found in the book New Lease of Life.