The Seventh-day Adventist Church was well represented at the recent Australian Society of Lifestyle Medicine (ASLM) Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, on the weekend of June 7-9, 2019.
More than 300 general practitioner physicians (GPs), medical specialists, allied health practitioners, educators, academics, and laypersons attended the event, approximately a dozen of whom were Seventh-day Adventists.
The conference was designed to promote lifestyle as a viable means of treating disease and emphasized 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,” said Greater Sydney Conference health director Paul Rankin. “There is a clear message that a whole food, plant-based diet is the best place to go.”
Rankin and Paul Wood, Alipate Vakamocea, and Mel Renfrew presented a two-hour pre-conference workshop on the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) as an effective community lifestyle initiative. Darren Morton from Avondale College of Higher Education presented the closing keynote speech.
At the closing ceremony of the conference, Western Australia health director Cherelle Fitzclarence, who is a Seventh-day Adventist physician, along with 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 Australian Society of Lifestyle Medicine,” said Rankin, who received an inaugural fellowship alongside Morton some years ago.
Presentations at the conference by Joanne McMillan, Felice Jacka, and other medical professionals strongly emphasized the link between a person’s gut microbiota and mental health, particularly depression.
“Research in this area has exploded in the last 4 to 5 years,” Rankin said. “A healthy microbiome requires a high-fiber diet, so meat isn’t good for that.”
The ASLM is a multidisciplinary society working toward improved prevention, management, and treatment of chronic, complex, and lifestyle-related conditions. Areas of focus include reversing type 2 diabetes, weight loss management, and largely plant-based whole food nutrition. It also includes reducing sugar consumption and the harmful effects of alcohol.