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You have seen so many stories about this place or that place where people seem to live longer than anywhere else.

At least, we have.

Ikaria in Greece. Here, there are reportedly more healthy people over ninety than anywhere on the planet (at least that we know). One in three make it beyond ninety.

Nicoya, Costa Rica. A sixty-year-old here has four times the chance of reaching ninety than does an American.

Loma Linda, California. You heard that right: here in the U.S. -- just an hour east of L.A. -- is a city where residents live ten years longer than the average American.

Sardinia, Italy. There are more than a million people here, with the highest percentage anywhere of folks who reach a hundred. And:

Okinawa, Japan. It boasted (at 116) the oldest documented person in the world as well as the most elderly without debilitating disease.

Sometimes, it's bewildering. In one place -- take Loma Linda, which is heavily Seventh -Day Adventist -- there is no use of alcohol, and hardly any fish, plus no meat, whereas in places like Sardinia and Irkaria red wine is consumed in moderation, along with fish, which are also eaten (three times a week, on average) in Okinawa.

Some take a little meat. Some hardly any. Some none. Others only meat that has not been exposed to man-made chemicals.

There are other variations. Some no dairy. Some eat a certain quantity cheese.

Which is it? What's the secret?

Through all of these are common themes.

One is exercise: folks in all these places are very active physically. Most did manual labor. They tended to work with the soil, farming. They walk. They get sun. They remain close to what God has created.

The other major thread through these places (known as "blue zones"):

Consumption of raw vegetables.

This is the biggest commonality. "In Christianity we have the Holy Scriptures, what God said from the beginning we should eat," said an eighty-nine year old, Belgrove Josiah, from Loma Linda. "He gave us the nuts and the grains and the herbs that He placed in the earth. And He said you will do better if you subsist on that type of thing."

In Loma Linda, they all get plenty of raw vegetables. It's not like there is a single one that is a magic bullet. The theme is that they are drawing vitamins and minerals and other nutrients right from the way God created them (unprocessed).

Thus, the main issue is: getting what the body needs, in the way of vegetal nutrients; the issue is also balance. Some meat can be healthy, if it's not doused with antibiotics, pesticides, and growth hormones. Another major point in common: families stay close. They care for one another. The elderly have a sense of belonging. But most importantly: they have a sense of purpose. They have kept a sense of purpose in their lives. They are living for something.

They also tend -- says one author who has studied these folks -- to be nice. They draw others to them. They get sufficient rest (see: Sabbath). Their work is low-intensity.

Last but hardly least: there is deep spirituality.

This ties into the aspect of purpose.

Live life to the fullest. Drink from the fountain of life (which is a shadow of the Living Waters).

They respect the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

They have trust.

"I've given myself to the Lord, and I've left myself in His hands, and I have trust," said Benita Welebir, in Loma Linda, who at age a hundred she still enjoys a healthy mind, body, and spirit. "And I have been very, very well taken care of."

[Feedback: "I noticed the article you posted about the Amish farmer," says viewer Bob Burns. " He is really part of a larger movement that had been around longer than he has been aware of. There are many involved in the perma-culture movement or biodynamic farming who have been practicing no-till farming for many years. See here the Back to Eden DVD. Many young people are involved in the permaculture movement; unfortunately most of them have a new age pantheistic philosophy as well. I have done a lot of research on this and I think many of the New Age perma-culture people have more of a practical intuitive grasp of the holiness of creation than many Christians do. I think it is important for Christians to become more aware of the problems with food production. Here is a link to Dr. Mercola's website on the GMO problem and here. I believe that the situation with food and farming in a way that producing healthy food rather than food that is poor in nutrient content and/or contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs has become a moral problem since it directly affects our health. God wants us to be good stewards of creation and to care for it and for one another. There are now Production Farmers who are switching to not just organic crops but organic crops grown on healthy living soil according to perma-culture principles. If you are interested I can send you more info on such farmers. Joel Salatin would be one of them. You can find his books on Amazon. There are many good books available on permaculture. On the connection between health and found visit this site. Some taint of New Age and Anthroposophy (Rudolph Steiner) principles with a few of the contributors but basically very sound nutrition information."

"Greetings!" says a viewer named Jim in Dubuque, Iowa. "After losing my job, I had to go on the state public insurance plan. I am a type-2 diabetic, and am on a program that provides my insulin for free. Because of delays in getting into the new insurance, my replacement insulin was delayed and I ran into a situation where I was running out of insulin. There was going to be a week where I would not have the insulin I needed. (It was available through an urgent-care facility, but I didn't have the money to buy it.) With all the phone calls trying to get a source, I was desperate. I remembered reading about an 'express novena' that Mother Theresa would do, called the 'Express Novena of Nine Memorares.' What you do, is make the Sign of the Cross, then state your intentions; then (sincerely) pray the Memorare prayer. then state your intentions again, then (sincerely) pray the Memorare prayer and you keep doing this until you have stated your intentions and recited the Memorare nine times. Mother Teresa of Calcutta really swore by the efficacy of this Express Novena of Nine Memorares, so I decided to try it. I prayed that I would get my insulin before I was on the new insurance. That night I decreased my insulin injection by half. Imagine my surprise the next day when I checked and my blood sugar was at 120 -- in the middle of the normal range! I used the last of my insulin (about a quarter of my normal dose) and the next day my sugar was at 102! That was Sunday night, and my new insulin was expected to arrive on Friday. During that time, I exercised, prayed, and did what I could to eat healthy. I should note that my food stamps were also messed up, so all I had to eat was 'mac and cheese' and green beans the food bank provided. The mac and cheese should have driven up my blood sugar, but no: provided I kept up the exercise my blood sugar was well maintained (guess Mary wanted me to make sure I took care of myself!). On Friday, the new insulin arrived. That night when I checked my sugar, I was in for a shock. I had not changed anything in my lifestyle on Thursday or Friday, but that night my blood sugar levels were greatly elevated! This was the way I look at it, Mary answered the prayer, just not how I expected. I was expecting God would send the insulin and somehow the insulin would magically appear. Instead, during that time, God gave me the insulin I needed, through my own body. I trusted in Him, and He provided!----"]

[see also: ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil found to kill cancer cells]

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[See also: retreat, Charleston, South Carolina]

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