For Your Health

For Your health...



Can you pick a Seventh-day Adventist out of a crowd? Or would you know when you passed one on the street? 

Maybe not, but there are distinctive characteristics of Adventists all around the world. It all stems from their conviction to reflect the character of Christ in every aspect of their lives. 

Adventists believe being a true follower of Jesus affects you through and through. It’s more than the words you say or the appearance you keep. It’s letting the Holy Spirit dwell in you, guide you, forgive you, restore you, and lead you “into all truth” (John 16:13), so you can experience the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).  

As Adventists grew from their grassroots beginnings into an organized global church, they found it particularly meaningful to apply biblical principles of conduct and compassion in the areas of health and well-being, stewardship, mission, and evangelism.



If you’ve ever read about Adventists in the news, you might have heard about the “Blue Zones” longevity research by National Geographic, where they studied locations around the world where people lived the longest. Along with groups from Japan and Italy, researchers studied a sampling of Adventists in the Loma Linda, California area who rank among the longest-living people in the world. You’ll find several interesting conclusions about what’s behind the higher life-expectancy for Adventists.

The research revealed how many facets of healthful living contributed to the longevity of this group of Adventists. Among them were:

  • Regularly set-aside time to rest, recharge, and reconnect. The seventh day of each week, the biblical Sabbath, is celebrated by Adventists as it is in the Bible. They take this day off from work and other cares of life to spend time with God, appreciating the world He created for us.
  • Maintaining optimal health through diet and exercise. Adventists have made significant contributions to health reform in the United States since the 1800s, all so we can live healthier lives each day and be better able to serve God and others. Many Adventists stick to a vegetarian diet and abstain from alcohol and tobacco use. 
  • An active faith community. Adventists often spend time together in both small and large groups. They work toward shared causes, worship in church, study the Bible, or gather to socialize. 

How did Adventists become so focused on health and well-being? It began early on in their history when they began to recognize how personal health can be a powerful expression of faith. It also upholds what the Bible says about how we should regard our bodies and minds. 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1, 2, ESV).

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV). 

This is why many Adventists follow a plant-based diet, abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and mind-altering drugs, and encourage regular exercise and sufficient rest

But how did this emphasis on health begin? In the late 1800s, when the denomination was in its organizational years, the health situation in the US was not favorable. There wasn’t much scientific information available about handling food and water, or about the treatment of disease. Many of the practices in farming, medicine and food distribution were based on traditions and handed-down methods, mostly focused on the industrial or production side of things. 

The 19th century medical community had no regulation or control of how medicine was practiced. What’s more, there was little to no focus on preventive care or the connection between daily habits and overall health.

But with the above truths in the Bible plain as day, encouraging us to care for our bodies as gifts from our Creator, early Adventists thought surely there must be things everyone can do to take better care of our bodies and minds.

Ellen G. White, a key pioneer in Adventism, played a significant part in learning and publishing valuable information about personal care, advocating how the healthier we live, the more able we are to handle life’s responsibilities and serve our Creator. 

If you can imagine, one of the beliefs of the time was that outside air was harmful and, especially if it was cold, caused illness. It was common for homes, workplaces, even hospitals to discourage the circulation of fresh air. White purported, however, that “fresh air purifies the blood, refreshes the body, and helps make it strong and healthy” and living in “ill-ventilated rooms weakens the system.” This small thing alone was revolutionary compared to the common practices of her time.   

Just as fresh air is a natural blessing of this world God created for us, Adventists found, in their pursuits of medical knowledge, that optimum health is found by utilizing the simplest forms of nature. Today this is summarized by the acronym NEWSTART: Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance (balance, moderation), Air, Rest, and Trust in God. 

Early in the Old Testament, God had to teach the Israelites (who had just been freed from years of slavery and dirty, primitive living) how to prepare food properly and have good hygiene.1 Similarly, Adventists played a role in health reform in the late 19th Century. In 1866, Adventists established the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, also known as Battle Creek Sanitarium. Not only were illnesses treated, but patients also received education for how to live cleaner, healthier lives. These types of sanitariums spread across the country, which later became the Adventist Health System of hospitals, clinics, and health care education programs.

As far as individual health and wellness is concerned, the Adventist church recognizes the autonomy of each individual and their God-given power of choice. Rather than mandating standards of behavior, Adventists encourage one another to live as positive examples of God’s love and care.