This is the second part to the article on the American Blue Zone found in Loma Linda, California among the Seventh Day Adventists who make up so much of the community there and the surrounding area.
What Do They Eat?
Not all, but many of the 7th Day Adventists in this area are vegetarians. Some are vegan. Those who do eat meat don’t eat it with every meal and use it more as a condiment or side dish than the major part of a meal. They do not eat pork as it was considered unclean in the Bible. Marge herself ate oatmeal for breakfast and then had a vegetable and fruit salad later in the day. The surgeon also usually only ate two meals a day. He is a vegan so mostly eats fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Now nuts are something many of the people in this area eat a lot of. In fact, based on the data coming in from the studies mentioned above, one of the researchers told Buettner that Adventists who ate nuts at least 5 times a week cut their risk of heart disease in half over those who didn’t do so. Makes me glad I eat nuts every week day.
These were not the only results from the studies included in this Loma Linda chapter in The Blue Zones. Other results were included such as women who eat tomatoes 3 to 4 times a week reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 70% which was also the same result for men and prostate cancer. Other cancers and the foods that affected them that were discussed included colon cancer, bladder cancer, and lung cancer. They found many such correlations between diet and cancers.
What the Studies Show About What the Seventh Day Adventists Drink
But what about what the Adventists drink? While not all of them do so exclusively, the findings from the studies about drinking water were interesting. The results were interesting enough that the researchers themselves started drinking water and offered only that to Buettner who was hoping for something else. Men who drink 5 to 6 glasses of water a day (why do they never say how big a glass of water is?) had a substantial reduction in the risk for fatal heart attacks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to hold for women.
However, you won’t find Adventists drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks. It goes against the precepts of their faith.
Another factor that may play into the longevity found among the 7th Day Adventists in this area is that most of the people are of the same religion. This means they have a ready made community that they are all a part of and that they participate in. It has been noted that people who are lonely do not live as long as people who have a community they are part of.
With all the 7th Day Adventists in this area, being able to find friends who believe as you do is easy. Buettner lists this as one of the Loma Linda Blue Zone secrets at the end of the chapter. The people you are around support you in your healthy choices instead of trying to sabotage you.
Although in this chapter Buettner did not discuss purpose as being a Blue Zone secret for the Loma Linda Adventists, there were mentions made during the interviews he did that show that purpose in your life is still an important longevity factor. Look at Marge again. In 2003 she lost her husband. While it did take her time to mourn, she finally realized that people weren’t going to come to her. She said the best cure for depression is to do something for someone else and so she began her volunteering again. She was in her late 90s at this time.
But something else that was mentioned during the interview is about her work. She was chosen to train as a nurse which she loved and had always wanted to be. As such she was still working at 80. This was something she mentioned when discussing how there were some folks living at her independent living facility that were 80. It seemed she didn’t understand that especially since she and her husband only moved in when she was 96 because she was tired of cooking and cleaning.
During the interview with Dr. Wareham (who was still doing surgery as of 2010 – I can’t find anything that indicates he has quit yet), having a purpose was also mentioned. Quoting the good doctor during that interview, he says,
I know that it really helps me to have purpose to what I am doing, to have a job and finish the job and have another job, and to enjoy that process. As I say, I am blessed.
Why Do They Die?
This was covered quickly at the end of the chapter but is important enough to include here. The researchers doing the on-going studies found that although the people of Loma Linda now have a reputation for living longer, they still die of the same things as everyone else and in about the same proportions.
What is different is the rate at which they are decaying. These Blue Zoners were dying just like anyone in any other location but at a slower rate which led the researcher to say that it looks like aging is about “…deteriorating cellular function and metabolism and so forth.” From what they are seeing in the study results these can be affected by how you live.
So keep reading and learning all the latest news about how the things we do and what we eat and drink and the way we live our lives can increase your own longevity.