Jonathan the Tortoise is possibly the oldest living animal to date at 183 years old, and despite the normal 150-year lifespan his species usually have, he might have just gotten a new lease on life after being hand-fed a high-calorie diet of nutritious food by Dr. Joe Hollins since 2014.
What happened was that Jonathan, a resident of St. Helena Island's Plantation House where governors reside, began showing signs of health decline back in 2014 and this caused him to have difficulty in foraging for his own food, mainly due to his cataracts. This, in turn, caused his beak to become softer which further lessened his ability to eat properly.
Dr. Hollins noticed the difficulty Jonathan was experiencing from his weakened beak. "The result was that he was quite thin... Because of this, about two years ago I started feeding him a bowl of nutritious food every Sunday in my own time," he said.
His actions eventually helped Jonathan regain his strength back - not without the occasional accidental bites on his hand due to Jonathan's failing eyes, of course. Dr. Hollins, who now wears leather gloves when he feeds Jonathan, feels that all his efforts were worth it. "The feeding has improved him surprisingly... His once blunt and crumbly beak has become sharp and lethal, so he was probably suffering from micro deficiencies of vitamins, minerals and trace elements," he explained.
All is well for Jonathan at present as he seems to have gained more energy that even Dr. Hollins thinks he might outlive them. "The life expectancy of a giant tortoise is 150 but there is no reason why Jonathan won't still be here after we have all gone," he said.
That's not to say that St. Helen's is not prepared for the worst because Jonathan is still living well beyond his expected years. Dr. Hollins said that St. Helens already has a plan prepared in case of Jonathan's demise. To be more specific, even as Jonathan's health continues to improve, an obituary has already been written out for him as well as plans to preserve his DNA samples and shell, a burial ground in the Plantation House's grounds and the plan called "Operation Go Slow" which is supposed to celebrate his legacy longer than he lived. We're just not quite sure if that is touching or morbid.
What Can This Mean For Humans?
Like any health lesson, Jonathan's diet leaves a very important message that humans should learn and that is: a healthy diet can go a long way.
Dr. Hollins explained how severe Jonathan's condition was before he got the old tortoise to change its eating habits and that he's now doing well just proves that, with time and proper nutrition, humans can also slowly regain their health instead of giving up and just waiting for the light.
Be warned, though, that simply having a high-calorie diet would not help your cause and it might even worsen your health if not taken with proper guidance. That is because a high-calorie diet is mainly for gaining weight. If you don't need to gain weight, take note that it may impair your insulin sensitivity or leave you vulnerable to pancreatic cancer.
A high-calorie diet may, however, benefit people diagnosed with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and help those suffering from malnutrition.
The results vary just as much as our bodies are different, so before you consider starting a diet that would affect your lifestyle, it's best to consult a health expert first - just like how Jonathan's diet was overseen by a veterinarian.
You should also know that our bodies are inclined to crave for high-calorie food during tough times out of survival instinct, and while letting yourselves indulge every now and then is fine, make sure you don't go overboard. Anything in excess is always bad for the body, no matter how healthy it would seem. Moderation is always the key.