Living Longer and Better

Chapter 7 | Summary

Secrets to Longevity

Physical exercise


Faith in God


Clean air


A balanced diet

Staying young forever is a fantasy for many people. The least fortunate people are content with nurturing the idea of finding the fountain of eternal youth. Mystics dream of discovering the elixir of life and multimillionaires are willing to spend a fortune to freeze their bodies (cryogenics) after they die, hoping that in the future science will discover the secret of immortality.

Reality is different. Out of every 100 people, all of them age and die sooner or later. It’s an infallible statistic. Everlasting life is a dream, nothing more. But living longer and with a better quality of life is a real possibility.

Secrets to Longevity

For seven years, a group of scientists and demographers directed by Dan Buettner conducted research for the magazine National Geographic. The purpose was to unravel the secrets of the so-called “blue zones,” regions of the planet inhabited by people who live for many years. These researchers found that members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern California, United States,1 are among people who live longer than the average.

What is the reason for this group’s longevity? First, they believe that the Bible is the Word of God and they follow its advice. The biblical concept of life goes beyond a basic biology. To science, people are alive while their hearts beat and their lungs breathe. But for God, life encompasses much more than mere existence. From a biblical point of view, life involves all areas of human existence. It includes humanity’s mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.2

Ancient Greeks believed that the body was a prison of the spirit.3 Therefore, they believed the body had to suffer for the spirit to be perfected. But biblical teaching affirms that God created humans as physical beings, mental, emotional, and spiritual, and that they are only happy to the extent these three aspects of life develop harmoniously.

In the biblical culture of the Old Testament, the word shalom is used extensively to refer to a healthy and happy life. The common meaning of this word is “peace.” But shalom possesses a more profound connotation than merely peace. It means to be whole, properly integrated, and have abundant resources to meet the needs of the body, soul, and spirit.4 In ancient Israel, wishing people shalom was to wish them prosperity in all aspects of life.

In this chapter, we will concentrate on the physical aspect of life. God gave necessary guidelines to created beings to live healthfully and happy. In the Bible we read: “He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you’” (Ex. 15:26). Far from being a command, it is a promise: “I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians.”

But there was one condition: “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees.” To what commands and decrees was Moses referring? Evidently, to the laws about health and safety that God had given to them.5 The Creator was concerned for the health of those He had liberated from Egypt. Divine interest was not only centered on the arrival of the Israelites to the Promised Land, but also on the quality of life as they walked through the desert. That is why God gave them precise instructions to preserve their health. The Bible is truly a manual of life. It presents the natural sources of health and life for body and soul:

1. Physical exercise. Until a few decades ago, physical exercise was part of everyone’s daily routine. But today it has turned into an activity in itself6 because sedentary lifestyle has become part of the life of many people. For most of us, it is no longer necessary to walk long distances, climb flights of stairs, work in fields, or wash clothes by hand. The comforts of contemporary life have created a sedentary generation. Not surprisingly, many countries experience an epidemic of obesity. But human beings were created for movement. Upon establishing the need to tend to the Garden of Eden,7 God was supplying humanity with physical activities necessary for preserving good health.

Physical exercise is beneficial for many reasons. We will mention only a few:

Helps to tone muscles, which burns the fat that causes obesity.8

Provides energy. Walk for an hour a day, take a cold shower, and notice the difference.9

Reduces stress. Exercise generates new hormones in the brain that make us feel better.10

Reduces depression. The next time you feel depressed, exercise and you will see results.11

Reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Why do elderly people lose centimeters in height? One of the reasons is loss of bone mass. Osteoporosis makes a person more susceptible to fractures. The more exercise, the lower the risk of osteoporosis in old age.12

Better sleep. Less stress means more restorative sleep.13

• Practiced regularly and frequently, exercise stimulates the immune system, helping prevent so-called lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.14

• Causes the body to use oxygen and nutrients with greater efficiency for a healthier immune system.15

A healthful life is impossible without regular physical exercise. Therefore, set aside a specific hour in your schedule of activities for physical exercise. It does not matter what type of physical activity you choose. The important thing is to do something you like that accommodates your lifestyle. If you are unable to go to the gym, go for a walk, play tennis, basketball, soccer, run, whatever you prefer. But it is important to consult your physician and develop an exercise routine that will stay with you for life.

2. Water. The second natural source of life and health is water. Water is part of the world we live in. It is the most important component of all living beings. In human beings it makes up nearly two-thirds of their body weight. The body is equipped with a series of mechanisms that allow it to maintain a balance of the amount of water it needs.16 When these mechanisms fail, it results in disruptions in the body and serious disorders can occur, capable of putting an individual’s life at risk. Water is indispensible for healthy tissues, essential for the physiological processes of digestion, for the absorption and elimination of indigestible waste, as well as for the structure and function of the circulatory system. It acts as a means of transport of nutrients and has direct impact on the maintenance of body temperature.17 A loss of just 10 percent of water in the body generates serious disruptions. A loss of 20 percent can produce death. It is possible to survive several weeks without food, but only a few days without water.


• Helps control body weight with a proper diet.

• Necessary for proper function of digestion and proper elimination of waste.

• Functions as a lubricant for the eyes, joints, mucus membranes, digestive and reproductive tracts.

• Regulates body temperature.

• Helps maintain a healthy complexion, keeping skin smooth and in good condition.

• Kidneys need abundant water to dilute calcium in urine, preventing it from crystalizing and forming kidney stones.

• Indispensable for proper cerebral functioning, since 90 percent of the brain’s volume is made up of water.

• If you are stressed, drinking water helps with relaxation.

There is no water “reserve” in the body. So amounts lost every 24 hours have to be replenished to preserve health and efficiency. To maintain good health, it is necessary to drink eight or nine glasses of water a day. Without water there is no life. It is a simple source of health that is inexpensive and available to anyone.

3. Faith in God. The autonomic nervous system regulates the involuntary functions of the body. In turn, the somatic nervous system controls voluntary impulses. Both systems coordinate with each other, but the former triggers the ability to feel good. This activation is unconscious. Conscious will does not have any influence, but the emotional state is a determinant.

Stress is a state of emotional pressure that affects the feeling of physical wellbeing. The word “disease” means “discomfort,” and “discomfort” means “uneasiness, indefinable discomfort.” In the beginning it is not something physical; it is simply emotional and mental, but ends up becoming physical.

To be physically well it is necessary to be emotionally and mentally well. However, after the entrance of sin, human emotions were distorted and a new, unknown emotion emerged: fear. “And I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen. 3:10), said Adam as he hid among the trees in the garden.

Since that day, the feeling of fear became almost instinctive and spread among human beings. Fear enslaves, closes down roadways, and prevents the discernment of any horizon. When fear is present, the body suffers a series of disorders: the heart beats much faster, sending blood to the extremities and to the brain; pupils dilate and three hormones are produced (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and corticosteroids, also called fear hormones). Corticoids prevent binding of neurons, which limits creativity. Hence, it is biologically impossible for fearful persons to realize their full emotional potential.

With deteriorated emotions it is impossible to remain in a perfect state of physical health. To be in good physical condition, it is necessary to be mentally and emotionally well. Science has confirmed it. Perhaps that is why never before has so much been written about mental strength and emotional balance. However, discussing mental strength without mentioning God is something impersonal. The Bible speaks of faith in God, and this is something personal.


• Sleeping seven to eight hours for a healthy adult (rest should be continuous, uninterrupted to be considered good quality sleep).

• Maintaining regular hours for going to bed and waking up.

• Having a light dinner, low in salt, at least two hours before going to bed.

• Not drinking excess liquids at night in order to avoid having to use the bathroom.

• The bedroom should have good ventilation and a cool temperature.

• Maintaining complete darkness, as far as possible.

• Utilizing light-weight bed linens and sleepwear, made of natural fibers or cotton.

Faith in God is not a simple assent or belief in an abstract theory. Christian faith is a divine gift, accepted and experienced by Christians; it is a form of superior life. It cannot be measured or simply worn as an adornment. We must experience it in the heart, and when we do so, it is like an atom: it carries a prodigious energy inside of it. Faith works wonders.

Christianity is not an invitation to conformity or mediocrity. It is not the very fact of repeating to oneself that everything is fine. It is faith in Someone who is well above human insignificance, but who takes an interest in and worries over the difficulties with which any person copes. It is God saying: “Be calm, I am here; you need not despair.”

4. Rest. Rest is a state in which mental and physical activity are reduced. It leads people to feel revitalized, rejuvenated, and ready to carry on with their daily activities. It is essential to health and basic to the quality of life. Without rest, there is a decrease in the ability to concentrate, to exercise judgment, and to participate in daily activities. There are two types of rest.

First, daily rest. Since Eden, God established a cycle of day and night. It should be assumed that because the sun shines during the day, daytime was made for working. Because shadows prevail at nighttime, night was established for rest. But, what happens to many people? They spend the night in front of the television, in front of the computer, or with friends. During the day, while the sun shines magnificently, they sleep. The order established by God is inverted and this brings about problems, because daytime rest is not the same as that of nighttime.

Sleep performs restorative functions for the body. However, for some people sleep is far from being a pleasant and refreshing experience, because it turns into a daily struggle against insomnia. Millions of people do not enjoy a full and productive day because they were not able to sleep at night.

When it is time to sleep, many people toss and turn in “search of sleep.” Problem is: the more they try to sleep, the more they worry about their inability to do it so it becomes more difficult to fall asleep.

For someone who does not suffer from insomnia, the ritual before going to bed, such as brushing his teeth, pulling back the bedspread and turning off the light, is a message to the brain for so that it may relax and become sleepy. In individuals with sleep problems, they are more of a signal to the brain that tells it to prepare for a long, frustrating battle. Those who suffer insomnia for several days should seek medical assistance.

In addition to daily rest, weekly rest is necessary. God said: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:8-11).

In God’s mind, humanity was not created to serve the Sabbath. On the contrary, the Sabbath was created to serve humanity. How? When humanity ceases its activities on Sabbath to meditate on God’s love and to worship Him, such veneration primarily benefits humanity. Energy renewed, its strength restored, it discovers a resting place in Christ, forgets the problems of the current week, and recharges batteries to solve new problems in the coming week.

God wants His children to be happy. But children will never be happy when they forget about the Creator and alienate themselves from Him. That is why He asks His children to stop and return to Him: God wishes the Sabbath to be more than just a day of inactivity, but a day of fellowship with Him. Healthy rest does not only consist of hours of idleness or empty meditation. True rest is only obtained from Jesus. He said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Some aspects of this biblical passage need our focus. The expression “Come to me” is an invitation, the sweetest and most special invitation anyone can receive. To try the rest that only Jesus can give, we must go to Him. Those who seek leisure away from Jesus will find their efforts will end up in nothing. Unfortunately, we live in times when humanity seeks rest and renewal of energy in transcendental meditation, in recreation, or in simply not doing anything. But the passage is clear: only Jesus can offer genuine rest.


• Good breathing relaxes nerves, stimulates appetite, aids digestion, and produces healthy, restorative sleep.

• When breathing correctly we provide oxygen to the brain and body in general, which allows us to detoxify our bodies through each breath.

• Breathing reveals our moods.

• Most adults do not utilize their lung function to its fullest capacity.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened” is Jesus’ invitation. Weary of what? Burdened by what? Anxiety, stress, and worries; tired of searching time and again without reaching the goal.

The promise from Jesus is that, if we go to Him, bringing our weariness and burdens, He will give us rest for our souls, not just our bodies. True tiredness, which destroys and kills, is not physical. The tiredness that takes away our will to live, leads to despair, turns us insane, and sinks us into depression is the fatigue of the soul. Jesus offers rest for that type of fatigue.

5. Clean air. On the second day of Creation, upon separating the firmament from the waters, God created the atmosphere. Animals, as well as humanity, cannot survive without oxygen. It has been shown that the root cause of many diseases is a lack of oxygen. Its significance in the composition of air is so vital that the mere fact of breathing contaminated or oxygen-deficient air causes complications in the human body. On the other hand, pure air rich in oxygen is a source of health and wellbeing; it increases mental ability and feelings of happiness. The quality of the air we breathe affects our way of being, the way we feel, and physical performance. Pollution-laden air resulting from droughts, storm-related weather, air conditioning, central heating, cooking, lack of ventilation, and smoke-filled environments gives rise to depression, discomfort, grief, fatigue, migraine headaches, and respiratory disorders. This is because of an imbalance in air ions. Positive ions, i.e., harmful ions, are greater in number than negative, but beneficial and healthy ions.18

6. Temperance. It consists of abstaining from everything that is bad and moderate use of what is good. Things such as alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs are definitely bad. Temperance advises us to avoid them altogether. The harm caused by the use of that which is bad is incalculable. Statistics show that alcohol consumption results in approximately 3.3 millions deaths each year. Of all deaths worldwide, 5.9% are attributable to alcohol. Among the deceased are victims of accidents caused by the effects of inebriation and diseases caused by alcohol consumption.19

The Bible is emphatic: We must care for our bodies, and not destroy them by drinking alcoholic beverages. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). It is not hard to recall the names of families or persons destroyed by the vice of alcohol.

Many people say, “I am a social drinker.” There is no such thing as a social drinker, only people who are treading down the beginning of a painful road that will end in vice. It is a process. And while such a process persists, people believe they are in control of the situation.

The wise Solomon said: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise“ (Prov. 20:1). Wisdom is the ability to manage life to attain happiness. But Solomon affirms that those who consume alcoholic beverages are not wise. They think they are searching for happiness, but it leads to misfortune.

The term “temperance” has practically fallen into disuse. Many only associate it with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. But temperance implies the moderate use of good things. Some people never drink, smoke, or use drugs; but they only drink two glasses of water a day or eat in excess. Without realizing it, they are being as intemperate as those who avail themselves to that which is harmful. The key word is balance, which is a divine gift that appears in our life when we live in communion with God.

7. A balanced diet. A balanced diet is one that, through food, provides nutrients in proportions needed by the body to function properly. Today’s nutritionists confirm what the Bible has presented as a healthy diet: “And to all the beasts of the earth and all the bird in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food” (Gen. 1:30).

The diet of Eden was ideal for a perfect body. In God’s original plan, meat was not eaten. Unfortunately, sin entered the world and many of God’s original plans had to be changed based on circumstances surrounding fallen humanity. But the diet from Eden supplies all the necessary nutrients for health, increases wellbeing and vitality, and protects against disease.

Perhaps the best evidence about health is the exceptional diet of the first patriarchs. Adam lived 939 years. His nephew, Methuselah, lived to the age of 969. That generation helped themselves to the natural resources mentioned in this chapter and observed a healthy diet.

A varied diet, complete and balanced, based on fruits, vegetables, and cereals, is not only delicious, it also provides vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed by the body.

Increasingly, medical studies prove that the lower the consumption of animal-based foods, the better mental and physical health. The greater consumption of vegetables means fewer coronary diseases such as arteriosclerosis, infarctions, arterial hypertension, obesity, diabetes, gout, and cancer.20

These natural remedies are simple and cost very little, but their dividends are extraordinary. Therein lies the secret to a long, happy, and meaningful life.


• Have a good breakfast every day. It is the most important meal of the day.

• Eat at scheduled times (and observe them) in a pleasant and cordial environment (Eccl. 10:17). Do not eat while watching television.

• Avoid junk food and caffeine. Do not eat between meals.

• Avoid consuming refined sugar and all products containing it. They rob the body of vitamins (especially soft drinks).

• Consume a greater amount of raw and whole foods that are rich in fiber. Avoid refined, canned, sugar-sweetened, and fried products.

• Follow a diet consisting of vegetables, legumes, and oleaginous seeds (nuts).

• Do not eat in excess, instead “hara hatchi bu,” Japanese phrase that means you must stop eating when 80 percent full.

• Use small plates.

• A proper diet prevents deterioration of health, and according to the ability of each individual, aids in recovery when sick.


1. Dan Buettner, “The Secrets of Longevity,” National Geographic, November 2005, Accesed May 10, 2015.

2. Luke 10:40.

3. Plato, Phaedo, 62b, 64c, 65c, 66b-66e, 67d and Cratylus, 400c.

4. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. en Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988, p. 1634.

5. Leviticus 11-15.

6. Accessed August 2, 2012.

7. Genesis 2:15.

8. G. D. Pamplona Roger, Healthy Body, Madrid: Safeliz, 2014, p. 19.

9. Ibid., p. 18.

10. J. Melgosa, Enjoy Life, Madrid: Safeliz, 2012, p. 214.

11. Ibid., pp. 124, 214-215.

12. Borer KT, “Physical activity in the prevention and amelioration of osteoporosis in women: interaction of mechanical, hormonal and dietary factors.” Sports Med. 2005; 35(9): 779-830. Review. PMID: 16138787

13. S. Márquez, “Beneficios Psicológicos de la Actividad Física,” Psicología general y aplicada, 48 (1): 185-206 (1995). There is much literature about the benefits of performing vigorous physical exercise such as: improved self-confidence, wellbeing, sexual satisfaction; lowers anxiety, depression, and improved intellectual ability.

14. Melgosa, pp. 136-139.

15. Pamplona, pp. 18-19.

16. Ibidem.

17. “Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences. Recommended Dietary Allowances revised 1945.” National Research Council, Reprint and Circular Series, 122: 3-18, (1945).

18. “Atmospheric oxygen over Phanerozoic time,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 96 (20): 10955-10957 (1999).

19. World Health Organization, Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014, Accessed May 10, 2015.

20. World Health Organization, Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat, ccessed May 10, 2015.