A new Netflix documentary series released in August highlights the longevity-promoting lifestyle of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.
The documentary covers, in four episodes, the lifestyles of communities in regions considered to be the longest-living in the world. Titled How to Live to 100: The Secrets of the Blue Zones, the series is based on the book The Blue Zone: 9 lessons of living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest, written by Dan Buettner.
The American author has dedicated more than two decades to research seeking to understand the reasons why men and women from at least five regions around the world achieve a longer lifespan. His study focused on Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Ikaria (Greece), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and Loma Linda (USA).
In Loma Linda, the documentary shows, in the episode titled “An Unexpected Discovery” (Episode 2), the healthy lifestyle adopted by Seventh-day Adventists. The series features interviews with elderly individuals who maintain a vegetarian diet, regular exercise, hold strong family values and observe a weekly Sabbath rest. Their stories emphasise a comprehensive healthy lifestyle, which the Adventist Church frequently refers to as NEWSTART principles—nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest and trust in God.
In an interview with the South American Adventist news website in 2017, Mr Buettner commented that “Adventists lead an impressive life, viewing health as central to their faith. They live up to a decade longer than most and much of their longevity can be attributed to vegetarianism and regular physical activity”.
He added that one of the keys to such longevity is “finding a sanctuary in time; a weekly pause from the demands of daily life. The 24-hour Sabbath provides a moment to centre on family, God, friendship and nature.”
Dr Kátia Reinert, the global associate director of the Health Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, observes that “the Adventist Church, since its inception, has been privileged to understand that God’s restoration plan for humanity isn’t solely spiritual; it also encompasses the physical, social, emotional and mental realms, as they are all interconnected.”
Dr Geraldine Przybylko, Adventist Health director for the South Pacific, agrees. She explains the reason for positive health outcomes amongst Seventh-day Adventists. “We are following the biblical model and looking at a whole-person health approach. We’re looking at the seven dimensions of wellness: the physical, spiritual, social, emotional, environmental, intellectual and vocational.”
“We have incorporated the 7 Dimensions of Wellness framework into the programs we have developed to educate and empower people to have evidence-based strategies to live their life to the full,” she added.
Spreading the message
Across the South Pacific, the Adventist Church has launched various initiatives emphasising a comprehensive approach to health: The ELIA Wellness initiative—which incorporates the ELIA Lifestyle Medicine Centre—and Sanitarium’s Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) in Australia and New Zealand, and the 10,000 Toes Campaign in the Pacific islands.
According to Dr Przybylko, Adventist Health aims to have 100 ELIA Wellness Hubs across Australia and New Zealand and 300 10,000 Toes Wellness Hubs across the Pacific by 2025. The Wellness Hubs can be located at health facilities, churches and schools to reach the community and provide healthy lifestyle programs, cooking classes, walking classes and more.
“We want to help people live their best life by taking them on this journey to whole-person health,” said Dr Przybylko.
Watch the trailer:
With information from the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.