Dr. Ellsworth Wareham is a centenarian who drives by himself, putters around his house and mows his own yard. And he still assisted in open heart surgeries until about four years ago.
Wareham points his lifestyle, like the other Seventh-Day Adventists residents living in Loma Linda, California, as partly responsible for his robust health at such an advanced age.
Dan Buettner, explorer and National Geographic fellow, was informed by Wareham, “I really don’t feel any different than I did when I was, say, 30. I feel like I could live another 25 years, but I know that’s not realistic.”
Buettner is on the lookout for finding places where people lived the healthiest and longest. Buettner called those places as “Blue Zones.”
Upon further study of Blue Zones, Buettner came up with a list of lifestyle habits that improve not only the lifespan, but also the health of its practitioners. Among his findings are an emphasis on more activity and a switch to a more plant-inclined diet. He described these in his new book “The Blue Zone Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest people.”
Outwardly, it is not obvious that Loma Linda has much in common with another Blue Zone, the Italian island, Sardinia, where people live longer compared to other places on earth. Loma Linda seems just like any other ordinary hick town in the U.S.
But if you step inside a local grocery shop, you’ll see some similarities to its Mediterranean island counterpart.
Like Sardinia, the bread is substituted with lactobacillus instead of yeast, which can lower the glycemic intake. Buettner says, “You can eat this and actually the sugars will burn more slowly than if you didn’t eat bread at all. Vastly different from normal bread.”
Also, meat department is not found in their grocery store. Instead, you find stacks of beans, a food that is a key component to longevity, Buettner says.
In Loma Linda healthy eating is a religion.
“The Adventists celebrate their Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday. They take their diet directly out of the Bible: Genesis chapter 1, verse 28 lays out the diet of the Garden of Eden,” Buettner says.
And like the men in Sardinia, they are in constant motion.
Buettner’s been encouraging people to make little changes that have big effects, like the addition of sidewalks, promotion of bicycling, modification to healthier restaurant menu. And so far, six million people have gotten involved.
And the good news, is that the end result of this subtle change in healthy living and eating right, is that it comes unnoticed as people are slowly coaxed into a healthier lifestyle but the effect is very noticeable.