I can remember the first time I read about the “American Blue Zone,” Loma Linda, California. The town has a huge Seventh Day Adventist population. For those of you who don’t know, many Adventists are vegetarian or vegan. Adventists are also known for their other good health practices–exercise, social support, spirituality, etc. In short, the Seventh Day Adventists put Loma Linda high on the short list of Blue Zones, which are those places in the world where people live the longest and the healthiest.
Dr. Ellsworth Wareham was probably the best known Loma Linda resident. An early adopter of the vegan lifestyle and a dedicated Adventist, Dr. Wareham was also a leading cardiothoracic surgeon whose own good health practices allowed him to practice medicine until he retired at the age of 95 in order to spend more time with his family. However, Dr. Wareham didn’t go home and become sedentary. Instead, he was known to climb stairs and mow the lawn even after he reached the age of 100.
When the Adventist News Network reported that Dr. Wareham passed away on December 15, 2018, it came as a bit of a shock. I realize that sounds strange. After all, Dr. Wareham was 104 years of age at his death. Yet, even in his final years, Dr Wareham never seemed to slow down. On some level, many of us in the plant-based community came to believe that he would never die.
In his own quiet way, Dr. Wareham fought back against society’s disdain for the aging process and for the elderly by living his life on his own terms. Dr. Wareham demonstrated that there is a strong relationship between good health practices and healthy, active aging. His example taught us that, with proper self-care and the right attitude, we do not have to suffer massive decline in mind, body, and spirit as we age.
May more of us follow his example. Rest in peace, Dr. Wareham.
To learn more about the Blue Zones, visit https://www.bluezones.com/
To learn more about Dr. Wareham, visit https://news.adventist.org/en/all-news/news/go/2018-12-20/in-memoriam-ellsworth-wareham-104-was-blue-zone-pioneer-and-cardiologist/