This is the second part in our 5-part series (Part 1: Okinawans Know the Secrets of Long Life) on life in the “Blue Zones,” where people live longer, healthy lives. Each part will look into the diets and lifestyles of the areas where longevity is a normal part of aging better. Who doesn’t want to know their secrets?
Loma Linda is a city within San Bernardino County, California, with just over 24,000 residents. It is considered a “Blue Zone” and is one of five regions in the world where the population has notably exceptional longevity. Loma Linda is a unique Blue Zone for many reasons; it is the only Blue Zone located in the U.S. and is also far less geographically isolated than the rest.
Loma Linda has one of the largest concentrations of Seventh-day Adventists in the world. Members of this religion see health as a central part of their faith. Much of the longevity of this population has been attributed to plant-based dietary habits, regular exercise, and abstinence from caffeine, smoking, and alcohol. This tight-knit community in California historically outlives the average American by ten years.
Seventh-day Adventists consume a predominantly plant-based diet and believe this diet is the original diet intended for humans. Some consume a vegan diet while others consume a vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, or a more flexitarian version of a plant-based diet. For those that choose to consume meat, Adventists recommend consuming it in small, side-dish sized portions. In general, they consume a well-balanced diet focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, and limit salt, sugar, and refined grains.
This community generally abstains from caffeine and alcohol consumption. Instead of coffee, many Adventists choose to drink Kaffree Roma – a caffeine-free coffee alternative made from roasted barley, chicory, and rye. At parties hosted by other Adventists, they’ll often consume tomato juice or sparkling water in place of an alcoholic beverage.
Traditionally, Adventists, who make up a large component of Loma Linda’s population, don’t consume many herbs or spices. Some believe that simpler, less exciting food is better and view herbs, spices, and condiments as potentially harmful. Instead, here are a few herbs and spices that are drought-tolerant and grow well in Southern California’s climate:
Seventh-day Adventists generally observe a 24-hour Sabbath each week, typically starting Friday evening and ending Saturday night. The purpose of the Sabbath is to slow down and take a break from the demands of daily life, and instead focus on mental, physical, and spiritual rest. Adventists do this by focusing on some of the aspects of life they view as most important: family, God, fellowship, and nature. Some Adventists also choose to fast on this day.
This community incorporates regular, low-intensity exercise into their lifestyle through daily walks and nature hikes often taken on days of Sabbath. Volunteering and acts of service are encouraged and provided by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
You don’t need to live in Loma Linda to implement longevity habits from this unique community. Consider dedicating a day, or even a couple hours one day a week, to rest. Focus on more plant-based foods in your diet and consider a vegan, vegetarian, or simply more flexitarian plan for yourself.
Green, C. M. (2021, May 1). Longevity Blue Zone Centenarians: An expository paper. Inquiries Journal.
Loma Linda, California – Blue Zones. Blue Zones – Live Better, Longer. (2021, May 4).
Spector, N. (2019, April 3). What ‘blue zone’ city Loma Linda, California can teach us about living longer. NBCNews.com.
Whittaker, L. (n.d.). 7 drought-tolerant herbs: Southern California tips: Install-it-direct. INSTALLITDIRECT.