Vibrant Health Festival Engages Pula Community

Keynotes on Nutrition, Happiness, and Lifestyle Changes

News June 14, 2024

14 June 2024 | Pula, Croatia [Lidija Godina with tedNEWS]

The Helping Hand Counselling and Support Centre recently hosted a three-day Health Festival. The event, organised with the invaluable support of the Croatian Conference (CC) Health Department and the local Seventh-day Adventist church in Pula, aimed to promote a holistic health approach in the community, emphasising the importance of whole-person care. Held from 31 May to 2 June at the newly opened Co-Working Pula Entrepreneurial Centre, the event welcomed esteemed speakers and guests such as Dr Dragan Ivanov, nutritionist Željka Kunuš-Ajum, and Pastor Vlado Havran, Head of the Adventist Health Department in Serbia.

In the historic Pula market place, shoppers discover something new – a pathway to better living.

The festival commenced on Friday morning with a ‘World No-Tobacco Day’ event at the Pula market. Pastor Miša Havran, Health Department Head at the Croatian Conference, led a team of local volunteers in measuring lung capacity, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels of community members. “It was a real pleasure to see the citizens of Pula patiently awaiting their turn, talking with the friendly volunteers, including Dr Dragan Ivanov and Dr Zlatko Pavlović, and taking copies of our magazine Life and Health,” shared Dr Lidija Godina, Helping Hand Centre Director. Nearly 200 residents took advantage of the opportunity to have a free health check.

A visit to Pula HRT Radio Station was another highlight of the event. Drs Ivanov, Godina, and Pastor Miroslav Lorencin had the opportunity to discuss the Health Festival and the services provided by the Helping Hand Centre during an engaging 45-minute show. Another local station, Radio Maestral, also invited the event organisers to share on air, receiving great feedback from listeners.

Awareness of the Pula Helping Hand Centre is growing, with interest from local radio stations.

The highlight of the festival was the presentations given by a variety of health professionals to an audience of 60 to 100 attendees. Dr Ivanov, the keynote speaker, shared insights from his extensive knowledge in plant-based diets and therapeutic protocols, sparking significant interest in dietary changes that have the power to regenerate bodies and minds. “To survive, we must start the process of change and regeneration,” he challenged the audience. He emphasised the importance of “freeing ourselves from old memories, habits, and other customs of the past. Because only by freeing ourselves from the burdens of the past can we make use of the present time.”

Explaining the dynamics between fasting and autophagy¹, Ivanov highlighted how lifestyle improvements, in addition to impacting physical health, have a direct effect on brain function. “The brain affects our behaviour, but our behaviour also affects the brain,” Ivanov shared, inspiring the audience to make small yet significant lifestyle changes.

One of the lectures presented at the three-day health festical was given by nutritionist Kunuš-Ajum, who explained the role autophagy plays in wellbeing.

Nutritionist Kunuš-Ajum continued to delve into the trending topic of autophagy, with a focus on gender differences and responses. “It was interesting to see attendees listening attentively to the effect of hormones on both women and men. The discussion on factors in anticancer nutrition sparked similar interest,” commented Godina. Kunuš-Ajum’s warmth and extensive practical and theoretical knowledge on the subject impressed all present, prompting requests for her return to Pula for another event.

Pastor and motivational speaker Vlado Havran completed the narrative arc of the Festival with a compelling presentation on happiness and free will. Quoting Helen Keller, Havran assured attendees that “Many have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not achieved through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” He then directed listeners’ attention to their Creator, the source of true-life purpose, creating an opportunity for seekers to delve into deeper questions.

The Health Festival atmosphere was enhanced by beautiful music performed by Zvjezdana Šušljić, who travelled specifically for the occasion, and by the availability of healthy snacks, fostering new friendships, connections, and lifestyle decisions. The festival was universally appreciated for its relevance and quality. “A top-notch event and in my opinion, it truly deserves to be publicly showcased,” said an attendee. “Everything was of a high standard.”

From left to right: Pastor Miroslav Lorencin, Roberta Katačić, pastor Mišo Havran, pastor Vlado Havran, Dr Lidija Godina, Željana Kunoš-Anjum, Dragan Ivanov, Zvjezdana Šušljić, Zlatko Pavlović, pastor Miroslav Djidara.


[Photos: courtesy of Lidija Godina]
¹Autophagy: is the process by which a cell breaks down and destroys old, damaged, or abnormal proteins and other substances in its cytoplasm (the fluid inside a cell). The breakdown products are then recycled for important cell functions, especially during periods of stress or starvation. (Source: National Cancer Institute).

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