Television legend Betty White is one of a kind — and at 97, she’s the oldest-working actress in Hollywood! So how does she stay healthy? “I don’t eat anything special,” she’s confessed. “I don’t need much sleep… if I get four good hours, then I’m fine. I’ve been that way all my life.” Still, there has to be some kind of secret to staying on your toes for nearly a century.

“Vodka’s kind of a hobby,” the Golden Girls star has said. “On the rocks… lots and lots of lemon. You can’t get much better.” When we think of vodka, we tend to think of Russians, and it’s true: They’ve been drinking the spirit since the 14th century, when foreign dignitaries traveling from Italy introduced its precursor, aqua vitae, as a universal cure-all. And now, we’ll think of Betty. However, the idea is not as off-the-wall as it may sound.

Betty White blowing a kiss to the audience at Comic Con
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A new scientific study found that drinking alcohol in moderate doses — a glass or two, now and then — triggers the release of enzymes that process the toxic components of liquor. These are the same lifesaving enzymes that are released when a person has a heart attack. Ingesting small amounts of liquor can essentially drill the body into self-defense!

Additionally, a 2016 study showed that moderate consumption of vodka can actually increase levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and boost blood flow to the heart. And the spirit is a natural disinfectant and antiseptic — which means it easily kills germs and keeps wounds clean from infection.

Vodka isn’t Betty’s only fountain of youth. She’s been in show business for more than seven decades. “There’s no spare time,” the Emmy winner admitted. “I’m active all the time. I think that forces you to stay well.” Throughout her career, Betty’s kept busy with a number of hit series. She appeared in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, and recently shot five episodes as a panelist for To Tell the Truth, a game show she also appeared on during the 1950s and ’60s. The trade-off is that that part of her life isn’t always conducive to good eating habits. “I’m not a big breakfast eater,” Betty said, alluding to her hectic schedule. “I’ll have a sandwich at lunch.”

Betty White up close shot of her smiling in a black dress
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Betty was 70 years old when her seminal series The Golden Girls ended in 1992. She was originally cast as the man-hungry Southern belle, Blanche Devereaux. Director Jay Sandrich persuaded Betty to try the flightier — and funnier — Rose Nylund.

“I loved her because she was so innocent,” Betty said of her character. “Not the brightest nickel in the drawer, but funny.” Despite being the oldest cast member — even a year older than Estelle Getty, who played the mother on the beloved sitcom! — Betty is the sole survivor. So what’s her take away from her experiences in show business — and her time on Earth in general? “Enjoy life. It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look.”

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