Blue Zones Well-Being Institute: An Emerging Research Incubator Focuses on Health Equity and Lifestyle Medicine

The Blue Zones Well-Being Institute — a research think tank that is part of Adventist Health — launched a pilot study early in 2022 to examine the impacts of using food as medicine among patients with chronic conditions.

ModifyHealth provides meals, nutritional coaching and operational support, while the nonprofit BZWI conducts research and analysis. Together, they have drawn on Adventist Health’s strong California employee base for enrollment participants, finding 313 generous volunteers willing to be studied for up to two years.

The study team divided participants into two “intervention arms.” The first arm launched in winter 2022. This group received meals delivered by ModifyHealth, individually tailored 30-minute nutritional coaching and educational resources for 20 weeks. This approach sought to give patients in this group a strong start by providing prepared food alongside personalized coaching, using tools and materials to maintain a long-term dietary-based lifestyle shift.

Volunteers in the second intervention arm received virtual nutritional education in the spring through the Ardmore Institute of Health's free Full Plate Living program. Participants were asked to follow all 16 online lessons within the self-paced program, which helps people add more whole, plant-based foods into daily meals they were already eating.

All participants answered surveys and provided lab work and other biomarkers such as weight and blood pressure at set intervals. They will continue to connect with the study team every six months to share labs and progress throughout the two years.

Research like this is only possible with dedicated participants who willingly donate time and personal information for the broader good of helping BZWI test food as medicine interventions on health outcomes. Interested in participating in BZWI research? Stay tuned — more pilots are planned!

Featured in: November/December 2022

Author

Kim Strobel

Adventist Health project manager for religion, faith and mission
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