Just a few days ago, the following thread/post from bb.com raised my interest:
Originally Posted by Christianyouth
Over the past few years I've had the opportunity to read many biographies of famous people from the 1600s-1880s and I've been struck by how little sleep many of these men took. Johnathan Edwards took five hours of sleep. Martin Luther and John Calvin took five hours of sleep. According to Thomas Alva Edison: Inventing the Electric Age, Edison slept at max five hours. According to Gale Christianson, author of Isaac Newton, a biography of Newton put out by Oxford University Press, for a large part of his life, Isaac Newton could not have got more than four hours of sleep.
And so I've been wondering what it was that would allow these people to experience great intellectual performance but be, from what I've heard about recommended amounts of sleep, sleep deprived.
Then I was able to meet a group of hardcore, mostly raw vegans through the Seventh Day Adventist church and found that ALL of them sleep 4-5 hours(I actually witnessed this). They had as much energy as I had and they didn't look any worse for wear.
After a quick search on Pubmed it became clear that these folks are excellently researched and characeterized. There are plenty of publications in epidemiological medical journals throughout the last 30-40 years.
Apparently, they have a significantly longer lifespan compared to peers that live in the same region and who are otherwise adjusted for age, sex and other variables.
Now, what is so specific about them and why do they live longer and healthier than other people?
- A part of their religion / belief is that the body is a gift that needs to be treated with care.
- They follow dietary and health rules that have been proposed in the Bible
- They follow biblical dietary and health advices that have been further elaborated by one of their founders, namely Ellen G. H. White (1827-1915)
- Among these "elaborated" advices are advices on physical and mental activity and a lifestyle that is largely defined by moderation
- A further, central part of their lifestyle is that they are literally accepting God's 10 commandments and the laws of love and that they are practicing them in their everyday life. In consequence, they display high/ above average levels of respect, integrity, helpfulness, and low / below average levels of aggressiveness, hatred, jealousy, violent temper and all these other negative emotions that are known to be health risk factors.
- In concordance with the 10 commandments, they are strictly resting on the 7th day (= sabbath), which is why they are called "7th-day"-Adventists.
- They are generally interested in medicine and medical research
- They actively avoid recreational drugs, including tobacco and alcohol
- A significant proportion, but not everybody of them, follows a vegetarian diet
O.K., since we have some cornerstones of their belief and lifestyle, let's have a look on the outcome, which is nicely summarized in the following paper:
Ten Years of Life Is It a Matter of Choice?
Gary E. Fraser, MB, ChB, PhD; David J. Shavlik, MSPH
Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:1645-1652.
Methods A total of 34 192 California Seventh-Day Adventists (75% of those eligible) were enrolled in a cohort and followed up from 1976 to 1988. A mailed questionnaire provided dietary and other exposure information at study baseline. Mortality for all subjects was ascertained by matching to state death tapes and the National Death Index.
Results California Adventists have higher life expectancies at the age of 30 years than other white Californians by 7.28 years (95% confidence interval, 6.59-7.97 years) in men and by 4.42 years (95% confidence interval, 3.96-4.88 years) in women, giving them perhaps the highest life expectancy of any formally described population. Commonly observed combinations of diet, exercise, body mass index, past smoking habits, and hormone replacement therapy (in women) can account for differences of up to 10 years of life expectancy among Adventists. A comparison of life expectancy when these factors take high-risk compared with low-risk values shows independent effects that vary between 1.06 and 2.74 years for different variables. The effect of each variable is assessed with all others at either medium- or high-risk levels.
Now, someone would say that it is no wonder that they live so much longer and healthier if they adopt this fine lifestyle.
However, the FASCINATING thing is that these dietary and lifestyle rules are based on the bible and on scriptures of E.G. White, which are in turn again based on the Bible. These rules are several thousands of years old - a time WAAAY BEFORE the modern medicine even got a clue about negative effects of meat consumption, animal fats etc and the correlation between atherosclerosis, CVD, stroke and other maladies on the one hand and dietary and lifstyle factors.
And it gets even better:
Contrasts in life expectancy between high- and low-risk values of a particular exposure variable for covariates at medium risk (Table 3) range between 1.1 and 2.7 years, and in no case does the 95% confidence interval include zero. High physical activity, frequent consumption of nuts, vegetarian status, and medium body mass index each result in an approximate 1.5- to 2.5-years gain in life expectancy compared with the corresponding high-risk values. The sum of these independent effects (9.7 years in men and 10.4 years in women) is similar to those predicted in subjects who have contrasting values for all variables simultaneously. Results are not shown in the table, but hypertension accounts for the loss of 4.2 and 3.2 years and diabetes for the loss of 4.6 and 8.6 years in men and women, respectively, when behavioral covariates take medium-risk values. The effect of current cigarette smoking cannot be evaluated in this population as there are virtually no current smokers.