Adventists feature in Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Conference

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Conference attendees participating in practical presentation exercises.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was well represented at the recent Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine (ASLM) Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, on the weekend of June 7-9.

More than 300 GPs, medical specialists, allied health practitioners, educators, academics and laypersons attended the event, approximately a dozen of whom were Adventist.

The conference was designed to promote lifestyle as a viable means of treating disease and emphasised the importance of a whole food plant-based diet for long-term health, particularly in relation to gut microbiota and mental health.

“It’s great to hear that science is now affirming the health message that Adventists have held since 1863. There is a clear message that a whole food, plant-based diet is the best place to go,” says health director for the Greater Sydney Conference, Dr Paul Rankin.

The conference was held at the Grand Millennium in Auckland, New Zealand.

Dr Rankin, Dr Paul Wood, Dr Alipate Vakamocea and Mel Renfrew presented a two-hour pre-conference workshop on CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) as an effective community lifestyle initiative. Dr Darren Morton, from Avondale College of Higher Education, presented the closing keynote entitled “The Problem with Parachutes”.

At the closing ceremony of the conference, health director for Western Australia, Dr Cherelle Fitzclarence, Adventist physician, Dr Richard Gee, and Cedarvale Health Retreat director, Julie Higgins, were awarded fellowships in the ASLM.

“A huge congratulations! It’s fantastic to have so many Adventists as fellows of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine,” says Dr Rankin, who received an inaugural fellowship alongside Dr Morton years ago.

Dr Cherelle Fitzclarence (left), Health director for the Western Australian Conference, and Julie Higgins (right), Cedarvale Health Retreat director, were awarded fellowships.

Presentations at the conference by Dr Joanne McMillan, Professor Felice Jacka and other medical professionals strongly emphasised the link between a person’s gut microbiota and mental health, particularly depression.

“Research in this area has exploded in the last 4-5 years,” says Dr Rankin. “A healthy microbiome requires a high-fibre diet, so meat, eggs and dairy isn’t good for that.”

The ASLM is a multidisciplinary society working towards improved prevention, management, and treatment of chronic, complex and lifestyle-related conditions. Areas of focus include reversing type 2 diabetes, weight loss and management, largely plant-based whole food nutrition, reducing sugar consumption, and reducing harms from alcohol.