Researcher/author Dan Buettner and National Geographic magazine have designated Loma Linda, California, as the only Blue Zone® in the United States and one of only five Blue Zones® in the world.
Blue Zones® is a concept used to classify any demographic and geographic area of the world where people live dramatically longer lives. Loma Linda’s population has a high concentration of Seventh-day Adventists, whose longevity is higher than national and world averages due to the church’s focus on healthy lifestyle choices.
The motto of Loma Linda University is “To Make Man Whole.” This involves a restoration of a person’s mental, physical and spiritual health. In keeping with this motto, the LLU Center for Fertility believes that treatment must go beyond only the physical aspects of infertility. We’ll address some of the essentials of this care below.
Blue Zones® & healthy lifestyles
Researcher Dan Buettner and National Geographic identified pockets around the world where people lived drastically better and longer than the rest of civilization. Buettner called these spots “Blue Zones.”
The people inhabiting Blue Zones® share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity. These characteristics include family bonds, no smoking, plant-based diets, constant moderate physical activity, social engagement and a high intake of legumes.
Buettner’s book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest connects longevity and good health to the Adventist way of life. Buettner explains how the city of Loma Linda has controls on the sale of alcohol and a ban on smoking, and its largest supermarket doesn’t sell meat (since a popular practice of Seventh-day Adventists is vegetarianism).
Research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows that the average Adventist in California lives four to 10 years longer than the average Californian. The research details factors associated with Adventist longevity, which include keeping a weekly day of rest, refraining from tobacco and alcohol, and eating a healthy vegetarian diet that is rich in nuts and beans.
The church is known for its emphasis on diet and health. The “holistic” understanding of the person, religious liberty and its conservative principles and lifestyle are preeminent in an Adventist’s life.
Fertility & holistic health
At LLU Center for Fertility, we believe treatment begins with lifestyle choices that improve the health of the parents, increase the chance of a normal and uneventful pregnancy, and give every newborn child their best chance of a healthy life.
A holistic method to fertility treatment includes personal choices and therapies that balance and heal the mind, body, spirit and emotions. Holistic fertility naturally enhances an individual’s fertility.
Essentials of Holistic Fertility
Diet & nutrition
Diet and nutrition are important factors for fertility health. What the body consumes is the foundation for cellular health and is reflected in the growth of eggs and sperm.
Probably the most common diet-related issue we see in fertility patients is a high intake of simple carbohydrates. This high intake requires the body to produce large amounts of insulin to control blood sugar. The high insulin levels increase the levels of male hormones in the ovary, which may affect ovulation and oocyte quality, and contribute to pregnancy complications.
Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to fertility issues. Nutritional deficiency can cause an imbalanced menstrual cycle, a lack of important hormone production and contribute to low sperm count and quality. For example, iron is necessary for ovulation, calcium promotes healthy menstruation and folic acid prevents birth defects. Vitamin C is also essential for sperm health.
Stress: While stress is a part of normal daily life, our response to stress may affect health and fertility. There are many effective ways to manage stress, including meditation, regular exercise, and sharing life experiences with family and close friends. Some find that being a member of a religious group is beneficial.
Drug treatment of stress may be required in certain circumstances, but is best avoided in most women who are planning pregnancy. Some patients may be able to manage stress through alternative treatments such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and yoga. There are many available positive choices, such as getting an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep daily, or cutting out nonessential activities that take up time and cause stress.
Exercise: Exercise reduces stress, helps hormones stay balanced and promotes healthy circulation to the reproductive organs.
Bad habits: Smoking, drinking alcohol regularly, high caffeine and sugar intake all have negative impacts on fertility in both men and women.
There is little high-quality research on herbs and fertility. While certain herbal supplements may negatively affect fertility, others appear to be benign. If you have questions, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
Antioxidants are important components of health and fertility and should be included in daily life. Some of the best antioxidants are obtained via a well-balanced healthy diet. Many fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants.
Loma Linda University Center for Fertility & IVF promotes holistic fertility and empowers individuals to take the lead on their journey to have a family. We encourage our patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise, eat properly and balance day-to-day activities. This is key to better fertility and better living.