While he was first developing the concept of Blue Zones, researcher, author, and explorer Dan Buettner realized that the regions in which he had identified people living the longest did not include anywhere in the United States. To address this, Buettner and his team did their research and soon discovered the city of Loma Linda, California.
“I found that Seventh-day Adventists lived between seven and 11 years longer than people in its Northern American counterparts.
The highest concentration of them is in or around Southern California, specifically Loma Linda. I [qualified] it as a Blue Zone namely because these were verifiably the longest-lived Americans, given available data in 2005.” – Dan Buettner, NBC News BETTER
Why Is Loma Linda A Blue Zone?
Designated by Dan Buettner and highlighted in his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Blue Zones are five regions in the world where people live much longer than average, and are often visually free of any chronic diseases. Including Loma Linda, these regions are:
- Okinawa (Japan)
- Sardinia (Italy)
- Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica)
- Icaria (Greece)
Loma Linda houses about 25,000 residents and according to statistics, these very residents live up to 7 years longer than the average American. So, how do they do it?
Longevity Tips From America’s Only Blue Zone
1. Adopt a plant-based diet
According to research published in PLOS Medicine, adopting a plant-based diet can add an average of 10 years to one’s life expectancy. This style of eating may be exactly why the residents of Loma Linda are considered Blue Zone inhabitants.
Loma Linda residents adopt a biblical style of eating, inspired by Genesis 1:29;
‘And God said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.’
Their Biblical Diet consists of organic whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables and excludes pork and any seafood besides fish.
No caffeine and no alcohol
In addition to following a plant-based diet, which provides a large dose of nutrients necessary for improved health and longevity, Loma Linda residents also stay clear of coffee and alcohol.
“We’ll have tomato juice or sparkling water at a party [hosted by fellow Seventh-day Adventists]. Alcohol isn’t an option. Instead of coffee, it’s common to offer a coffee substitute such as Kaffree Roma, which looks and tastes like coffee but has no caffeine.” explained John Westerdahl, Ph.D. to NBC News Better. Westerdahl is a registered dietitian nutritionist from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health and a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
2. Get enough exercise
In Loma Linda, residents spend around 5 days a week exercising, and for good reason.
Exercising is one of the easiest and most effective longevity hacks out there. Adequate physical activity reduces the risk for major chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and dementia. In doing so, it increases longevity, with studies finding that regularly exercising can reduce one’s risk of early death by as much as 21%.
So how much exercise is enough for longevity?
Well, according to researchers, following even the minimum requirements for physical activity – 150–300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75–150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity – is enough to provide a health and longevity boost.
3. Build a strong community
If there’s one thing we can take from the lockdown effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the importance of social connections. During this period, the prevalence of loneliness increased by 5% and this was then associated with an increased risk of worsening physical health, physical fitness, mental health, weight, alcohol consumption, and social relations during the pandemic.
Amongst the residents of Loma Linda, the community is incredibly important, with their similar lifestyle habits allowing them to form deep and meaningful connections. These strong connections not only increase their levels of happiness, but studies have indicated that an active social life can increase longevity, whereas isolation and loneliness increase the risk of early mortality.
In addition to building social connections, Loma Linda residents are encouraged to volunteer, which allows them to find a sense of purpose. In addition to volunteering, you can also consider joining a club that shares your interests or regularly reaching out to your family and friends.
And for those seeking to enrich their daily experiences and broaden horizons, don’t overlook the option to alter your Steam region. This is where VeePN comes into play — a reliable and user-friendly solution that ensures secure and anonymous access to content from around the globe. Through this, you can not only relish captivating games but also expand your network, connecting with individuals who reside beyond geographical confines.
Admit it, sometimes it can be really hard to unplug, but it’s something that the residents of Loma Linda have easily mastered.
Among Seventh-Day Adventists, Saturday is considered to be the Sabbath day. This means that from Friday evening, the city slows down as people begin to unplug themselves from work, social media, and television. They don’t even do any cooking or shopping on the day – they prepare meals on Friday. Rather, they use their Saturday to rest and recuperate, which is exactly what the weekend is meant for.
“No matter how busy they are or what their parenting schedule dictates, they stop everything and spend the day with family and usually go on a nature hike. There’s no TV, no internet and no work at all.” says Buettner.
As admirable as this is, it’s not the easiest habit to adopt. In this case, may we suggest that you take a few hours out of every day to do nothing? Log off of social media (or turn off your notifications), and spend time meditating, journaling, or just chatting with a close friend.
5. Build a religious/spiritual connection
What do you believe in?
Well if you believe in a higher power, whatever form that may be, then you’re more likely to live a long and healthy life. According to a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, people with a religious affiliation lived nearly 4 years longer, on average, than those without a religious affiliation.
It should also be noted that many religions, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, restrict unhealthy practices, such as alcohol and drug use, and this may also be a contributing factor.
Nonetheless, a connection to a church or a higher power can improve emotional wellness, which is another vital factor for improved longevity.
Want to know more?
As mentioned, there are five blue zones in the world and Okinawa has the highest number of centenarians. The Okinawa diet is an eating style adopted by people living in Okinawa, and the Okinawa diet may be why Okinawa is a Blue Zone.
MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Jabez Impano on Unsplash
Allen, J., Darlington, O., Hughes, K. et al. (2022). The public health impact of loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Public Health 22, 1654. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-14055-2
Ernst, M., Niederer, D., Werner, A. M., Czaja, S. J., Mikton, C., Ong, A. D., Rosen, T., Brähler, E., & Beutel, M. E. (2022). Loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review with meta-analysis. The American psychologist, 77(5), 660–677. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0001005
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Wallace, L. E., Anthony, R., End, C. M., & Way, B. M. (2019). Does Religion Stave Off the Grave? Religious Affiliation in One’s Obituary and Longevity. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10(5), 662–670. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550618779820