The California town of Loma Linda, which oozes good health amongst its inhabitants, is to be found amidst an urban landscape of fast food restaurants and convenience stores.
Peter Bowes discovers that this is a place that has an enviable record of its residents living to a ripe old age, often without the burdens of chronic illness until very late in life. Studies have shown that people here live up to 10 years longer than most Americans and enjoy better health in their golden years.
The reason for this extraordinary longevity could be rooted in their faith. Seventh-day Adventists make up about half of the approximately 24,000 population here. It is an evangelical Christian community that follows strict guidelines about food, exercise and rest. It results in a lifestyle, guided by scripture, that promotes good health and wellbeing.
Loma Linda, Spanish for beautiful hill, is 100 kilometres east of Los Angeles. Almost lost in the urban sprawl that dominates the region, the town appears as a green oasis that spirals around the hilltop. It has been known as a mecca for healthy living for decades.
Loma Linda was adopted, at the turn of the 20th Century, by the health-focussed founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when they purchased property in the area.
The Loma Linda lifestyle appears to add up to a potent recipe for wellbeing. It is not for everyone and most Adventists acknowledge that there are degrees of compliance to the dietary and social guidelines outlined by the church. But there is little doubt, based on statistical evidence, that this community can expect to live significantly longer than most other people. It is a compelling model for a world struggling with the scourge of obesity, diabetes and the chronic diseases of old age.
(Photo: Betty Streifling is 101 years old and works out in Loma Linda. Credit: Peter Bowes)