Loma Linda, California Longevity




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He’s lived a hundred years, and up until five years ago, was still working as a heart surgeon. But don’t ask Dr. Ellsworth Wareham for his wisdom.

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, Retired Cardiovascular Surgeon: “I don’t know about any wisdom; many people associate age with wisdom, and I think that’s probably unscientific.”

But what is scientific, and backup by multiple studies, is that the lifestyle Dr. Wareham has lived is part of a prescription for a long and healthy life.

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, Retired Cardiovascular Surgeon: “Well, I can only describe what I do myself. I must say, my family doesn’t necessarily subscribe to
the program that I’m on.

I have never cared for animal products, so with me, it was a very easy thing to become a vegan. It just so happens that veganism is a healthy lifestyle.”

Dr. Wareham and his eighty-six (86) year old wife, Barbara, both still drive. And Dr. Wareham makes it a point to climb up and down his stairs several times a day for exercise.

He worked at Loma Linda Medical Center about an hour east of Los Angeles for most of his career. And he’s operated on hundreds, if not thousands of hearts; his heart is just fine, he says, and so is the rest of his one-hundred year old body.

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, Retired Cardiovascular Surgeon: “I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve hadn’t had any physical defects: I don’t have any trouble with my joints. My hands are steady. My balance is good. I don’t have any trouble with my balance. I don’t have to walk with a cane or anything like that.

So I’m basically no different that what I was fifty years ago.”

Where the Warehams live has a lot to do with how they live and how long they’ve lived. Loma Linda is one of five cities in the world designated as a “Blue Zone”. The others are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica, and Ikaria, Greece. These are regions that have people who live measurably longer lives than the general population.

Daniel Fontoura is the vice president of the Loma Linda University School of Health.

Daniel Fontoura, Vice-Presidet, LLUSH: “You’ve got a significant older population here who oftentimes come here to retire. Also they’ve got common values, interests in the sense that you’ve got a lot of Seventh-Day Adventist Christians who will spend their seventies and eighties doing things together.”

The healthy seniors living in this Blue Zone have more than a shared faith, they appear to adhere to a shared lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a diet low in meat and higher in plant-based whole foods, and just as important, they are part of a social community.

At the Drayson Center on the Loma Linda campus, that community is evident everywhere, from the step-aerobics class where sixty-seven (67) year old Romina Vlakey keeps her students sweating, to the outdoor aerobics swim class, to the exercise equipment, everywhere seniors are moving.

The entire university is in step with the shared lifestyle.

Daniel Fontoura, Vice-Presidet, LLUSH: “We at Loma Linda University Health, our mission or our motto as I should say is to make man whole. We believe in the paradigm of a whole person. And so we try to actually integrate that into our care at the medical center and clinical practices that we have.

So we kind of view and believe that it’s kind of the whole package. We view them as just all working together, mind, body and soul.”

Many here in Loma Linda are vegetarians. In fact the local market doesn’t even sell meat. But what research has found that really boosts heart health is a diet high in nuts.

Daniel Fontoura, Vice-Presidet, LLUSH: “Nuts are showing a lot of benefits in terms of reduced risk of heart disease in terms of overall mortality, and now a couple of different cancers.

There have been findings linking nuts to lower risks of colorectal cancer, and also of pancreatic cancer.”

Michael Orlich is a co-investigator in the Adventist studies. These are ongoing studies of the lifestyle in the Loma Linda Blue Zone, and how it leads to longer lives.

That lifestyle includes not smoking, not drinking alcohol or caffeine, regular exercise, being a health weight, eating a more plant-based diet, whole foods and nuts.

Michael Orlich, Health Researcher: “Our studies have clearly and consistently shown benefits of a healthy diet pattern in terms of reduced incidence of heart disease. In other words, the first heart attack and other chronic diseases.

And even even more importantly, reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease.

So less people dying of heart attacks or congestive heart failure.”

Earlier studies have shown Loma Linda males live six to seven years longer than the average American male, and women live four years longer than the average American female.

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham has certainly lived beyond the averages.

Reporter: “You were saying it was a lifestyle, so what other things have hyou done in your life that you think helped you get to one-hundred, and a healthy one-hundred?”

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, Retired Cardiovascular Surgeon: “Well, I think one has to have a good mental attitude. I think that’s high on the list. I think you’ve got to look at the positive things. There’s the negative things in life; there’s the positive things — and you’ve got to concentrate on the positives.”

Sage advice from someone who has lived a century.


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Cardiology, Oncology. Dr. Ellsworth Wareham knows the EXACT formula for a long, healthy life. True or false?

Is Dr. Wareham sympathetic towards cows, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens?

His bedroom is probably on the ground floor. Is this right or wrong?

General Practitice, Family Medicine. Was Dr. Wwareham a general practitioner (family doctor)?

Neurology. Do people in all communities in United States live long?

Obstetrics, Gynecology. Residents of Loma Linda spend most of their time sitting on their sofas and watching TV; and eat pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and drink beer and cola. They also love to party, drink, smoke, listen to loud music and tell off-the-wall jokes and stories. Is this correct or incorrect

Are diet and exercise the only keys to a long, healthy life?


Orthopedics. Are there regions in your country where people have long, health lives?

I know or have known some people who lived to their eighties, nineties or hundreds. Yes or no?

Preventive Medicine.
Health books, magazines, TV shows, experts, fitness and health clubs are very popular.

Emergency Medicine.
What might happen in the future?

Otolaryngology. What should people and governments do?

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