Blue Zones

Live Longer, Better

Loma Linda, California

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Geography

The American Blue Zone of Loma Linda, a town 60 miles east of Los Angeles, contains about 9,000 Seventh-day Adventists, the longest-lived people in America.

Background

The Adventist church formed in the 1840s, and built a culture focused on health. Adventists encourage vegetarianism, while discouraging alcohol, smoking and soda. The Adventists also managed various water treatment centers, or spas, where people came to relax and unwind. In the late 1870s, the focus shifted even more to preventive medicine, incorporating regular exercise and cutting-edge medicine into their lifestyle. Scientific research shows the Adventists generally have a much lower risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease compared to the average American and enjoy a long, healthy life.

Longevity Highlights

Eat Nuts
A vast body of research spanning just over 50 years shows Adventists have reduced rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, including lung, heart disease and diabetes, compared to the average American. Other studies using Adventists linked eating meat to increased risk of heart disease and showed the opposite effect of including nuts in the diet. Further studies linked drinking 5-6 glasses of water to heart health, decreasing the rate of heart attacks.

Nurture Your Mind and Your Body
Getting regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy BMI predict longevity. Long-term inflammation occurs in obese and overweight people. This results in long-term damage and contributes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Adventists also take time out of their week to relax, rejuvenate and focus on family, friends and God.

Help Others
The Adventist culture prizes volunteering. This practice may help stave off depression and introduce you to like-minded people, positively contributing to your social network.

Lessons from Loma Linda

  1. Find a sanctuary in time to decompress. Strict observance of the Sabbath is strictly occurs from Friday to Saturday night, giving Adventists a weekly time to focus on family, friends, God and nature.
  2. Keep a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy BMI results helps keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels low. Certain fruits and vegetable also lower the risk of lung, ovarian and prostate cancers.
  3. Eat nuts! Adventist research shows that eating nuts increases life expectancy by 2 years and lowers the risk of heart disease.
  4. Get regular exercise. You don’t have to run marathons to be healthy. Adventists walk daily, a habit research links to lowered heart disease and cancer risks.
  5. Nurture tight social networks. Like Okinawan moais, Adventists get together as groups to spend time together and for potluck socials.
  6. Volunteer! Volunteering reduces stress and contributes to a sense of purpose, connecting Adventists to a social network of people with similar interests.
  7. Eat a light dinner. Make breakfast your biggest meal of the day followed by lunch and topped off with a smaller dinner. This has been shown to promote a lower BMI and better sleep.