Why do Seventh Day Adventists live longer and suffer less disease?

I recently watched a thought provoking documentary on PBS which supports my dietary philosophy of eating mostly a vegetarian diet. The documentary is called In Defense of Food which you can watch here. NYTimes best-selling author Michael Pollan tries to answer the question: What should I eat to be healthy? Michael busts many myths and misconceptions, and how you should apply common sense and wisdom when deciding what to eat.

Michael’s journey for truth takes him to many places but one place that stood out for me was in a California nursing home for Seventh Day Adventists enjoy remarkable longevity by eating a vegetarian diet. To quickly summarize, the solution to eating well and avoiding diet-related diseases is to eat food, not too much, meaning control your portions and eat mostly a plant based diet. Yup you heard right, plants as in complex carbohydrates, greens, beans and all that wonderful stuff.

What does consist of the Western diet? It includes lots of meat, sugar, white flour and vegetable oils. It’s inexpensive, convenient and has been processed to taste yummy! Remember the food industry rules us via confusion. Everyday there is a different headline in the news about food. Eat more fiber. Eggs are bad. Eggs are good. Meat is bad. Meat is good. Drink more milk. Drink less milk. It’s no wonder people are confused, obese and sick.

Micheal Pollan goes on to say: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants, is what our species has done for hundreds of thousands of years, so that advice is about as universal as any advice you could offer. It’s very rare in our lives where the answer to a complicated question is so simple, but when it comes to eating, it is.”

He also adds: “The rise of farmers markets, the rise of organic agriculture, the rise of the food movement — none of this was the result of government action. All of this was the result of consumers voting with their forks, signaling to farmers and the food industry they wanted something different. And this has created a multi-billion dollar alternative food economy. So we may be at a turning point.” For those that want to learn more from Michael Pollan, I strongly recommend you check out his book as well, titled In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

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Examining the Evidence

Now back to the Seventh Day Adventists. Did you know since 1958 many organizations like the National Health Institute and the American Cancer Society have studied the 7th Day Adventists’ community dietary habits, lifestyle, disease and mortality rates? What are now known as the Adventist Health Studies are quite remarkable to say the least and gout sufferers can learn plenty from them. Loma Linda, California is a town which the majority are Seventh Day Adventists and lead the country in longevity. On average women live until the age of 81 but Adventist women live until 86. Average men live until the age of 76 but Adventist men live until the age of 83!

According to Loma Linda University, ground zero in the Adventist Health Studies, “Death from coronary heart disease among Adventist men was 66 percent [lower compared to their California peers]; for Adventist women, it was 98 percent [lower]. Stroke death rates for Adventist men were 72 percent [lower], compared to their non-Adventist counterparts. For Adventist women, death from stroke was 82 percent [lower]. The death rate from cancer for Adventist men is 60 percent lower than that of the average California male; for Adventist women, it is 75 percent lower.”

What makes the Seventh Day Adventists different from the rest? They eat like Greeks, following what we call the Mediterranean Diet, eating mostly fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes fish, olive oil and nuts. Or as outlined in my book, eating complex carbohydrates for at least 80% of your daily calories.

While their religion advocates vegetarianism, followers can eat meat if they want to. They can only eat clean meats which are basically the same as kosher meats like beef, chicken, fish and wild game but excludes pork and shellfish. Foods high in fat like eggs, butter and dairy should be consumed in moderation to avoid cholesterol. While complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruit comprise the foundation of the Seventh Day Adventist Diet. To my fellow gout sufferers, I ask after examining the evidence to eat more like a Seventh Day Adventist! Let me know your thoughts!

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    9 replies to "Gout and the Seventh Day Adventist Diet"

    • […] 7th Day Adventists Diet and Gout […]

    • Luis

      I’m 65, been a gout sufferer for over 20 yrs and allergic to allopurinol, so all I’ve got is diet and home remedies for prevention. I’m single, living alone and hate to cook. Would rather buy take-out but realize restaurant food may not be my best choice.

      So, does your book have recipes and ideas for guys like me or are the recipes for 2 or more people?


      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Luis!

        If you live alone, best to eat as much vegetarian as possible. Try and eat no more than 4 ounces of meat daily. Supper time best to big salads and put whatever vegetables you like and to fill up have a slice of whole wheat bread with your salad.

        My book is yes mostly for recipes that you cook for 2 people or more like you say but there are some quick meals you can cook. The idea is that food without meat doesn’t taste good and that is completely wrong. Vegetarian food can be tasty and healthy for you. So I have many recipes that are delicious to weave you off the meat. Like I say, you can eat meat but not too much or else you will eventually pay the price.

        Hope this helps!

        • Luis

          Hi and thank you for your prompt response!

          Do avoid meats and high and medium purine foods, as well as high fructose corn syrup items and fructose in general. Stick to limes and grapefruits. Problem is since I’m not much of a salad and veggies guy I tend to eat mostly starchy carbs, pasta, rice,cereal,cookies and crackers, baked potatoes, pizza, tortillas instead of bread to avoid yeast and dairy, eggs, cheeses, yogurt, sour cream. I will have a kale and quinoa veggie burger. There is no alcohol either.

          It has worked well, since my last gout attack was over 2 years ago, but now it’s back. Maybe it is stress related. My nerves. This pressure by others to match me up is driving me nuts. I enjoy my solitude, very much.

          Take care,

          • Spiro Koulouris

            Hi Luis!

            Yes it could be stress related but try and incorporate more vegetables in your diet and make sure your starchy carbs are whole grain as in pastas, rices, tortillas and pizza.

    • Pauline Sowry

      I’m drinking lots of water eating what guidance says, I’m allergic to allopurinol and colchicine but can take diclofenac to ease the pain. I get gout attack after gout attack after gout attack every few days.

      I have only just discovered that it’s bad to fry food, I knew olive oil was good so fried with it. I read everything and see fishy things listed when I understood most fish was out. I need a straightforward list of what I mustn’t have and how I mustn’t cook and the opposite of that. At the same time I can take no exercise as I am becoming disabled in many ways but have happily lost 34lbs and continue downwards.
      What else can I do?

      I wonder what I’m doing wrong as my Uric acid is very high ,maybe it’s the weak kidneys failing to empty the Uric acid. I’m beginning yo feel that whatever I do the kidneys are making it useless. Help.


      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Pauline!

        Eat only fresh vegetables, some fruit and 100% whole grain breads, pastas and rices only.

        Do not fry anything!

        Drink water only. No alcohol and no sodas or juices.

        Take out all the meats and fat for now.

        Try this diet out for at least 3-4 weeks.

        Afterwards introduce meat and fat slowly but follow my 80-10-10 diet rules of eating 80% of your daily calories in complex carbs (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts), 10% protein (lean meats) and 10% fat (milk, cheese, butter, eggs, greek yogurt etc..)

        Make sure to visit your doctor!


    • Talula Cartwright

      Another component of the typical SDA diet is that they don’t drink alcohol. Since gout has long been associated with heavy drinking, I’ll bet that is a contributor, too.

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