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Loma Linda, a small Californian city, is home to just over 25,000 people, and the United States’ only recognized “Blue Zone.” A Blue Zone is a region of the world where inhabitants regularly live about a decade longer than the global average. Loma Linda’s extraordinary longevity was brought to the world’s attention by researcher Dan Buettner, who featured it in his recent book and Netflix docuseries on the topic of Blue Zones.
Source: ABC News/YouTube
What sets Loma Linda apart from the rest of the world? The answer lies in the lifestyle choices of its residents, who, on average, live an impressive 10 years longer than the typical American. The secret to their longevity? Many Loma Linda residents, approximately 9,000 of them, adhere to the Seventh-day Adventist faith, a unique Adventist Protestant Christian denomination.
Seventh-day Adventists prioritize a combination of key elements that have been associated with Blue Zone lifestyles, including plant-based eating, regular exercise, strong community bonds, and a stress-free lifestyle. These factors collectively contribute to their remarkable longevity.
One of the cornerstones of the Seventh-day Adventist diet is a plant-based focus. Staples like black beans, nuts, and avocados are central components of their daily meals. Interestingly, these superfoods are also dietary mainstays in other Blue Zones around the world. “In every Blue Zone, they’re eating about a cup of beans a day,” Buettner emphasized. He goes further to suggest that beans could be considered the world’s only true superfood.
Unlike many other dietary practices, Seventh-day Adventists abstain from refined foods, shellfish, and red meat, with a particular emphasis on avoiding pork. A comprehensive study of 81,000 Seventh-day Adventists from the US and Canada revealed that even small amounts of red meat consumption were associated with a two-fold increase in heart problems. Instead of meat, Loma Linda’s local market prominently features bins of beans and grains, further reinforcing their plant-based lifestyle. Additionally, the university cafeteria in the city is entirely vegetarian. Furthermore, Seventh-day Adventists strictly abstain from alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine, as dictated by their religious beliefs.
In addition to their diet, Loma Linda residents, like their counterparts in other Blue Zones, prioritize community and social interaction. They frequently come together for potluck dinners at their churches, sharing hearty plant-based meals while strengthening their social bonds. Loma Linda University’s fitness center is open to all city residents and offers programs focusing on diet and exercise.
Another key element of the Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle is spending time in the great outdoors. After potluck dinners, it’s customary for families to embark on nature hikes, connecting with nature and one another. Moreover, Saturday is the Sabbath for Seventh-day Adventists, a day of rest from work and secular activities, dedicated to rejuvenation and spiritual reflection.
In a world where the pursuit of longevity often involves complex diets and cutting-edge technologies, Loma Linda stands as a testament to the simple yet powerful principles of community, plant-based eating, exercise, and stress reduction.
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