Seniors must think differently about diet, says guest dietitian

29 August 2017

By 70 to 75, we need a different mindset about diet: Weight loss is often not the healthiest choice, and even sugary treats can be your friend, says international nutrition authority Ngaire Hobbins, guest speaking for Goodwin House residents and families on 29 August.

‘Too often I see older people who have become physically or cognitively frail merely because they have been following eating advice appropriate for 30, 40 or 50 year olds, but which instead has caused them harm.’

Ngaire’s visit to Goodwin House was an extension of the annual Alzheimer’s Australia ACT’s Business Breakfast fundraiser, Gather ‘Round the Table, held that morning and for which Goodwin was major sponsor this year.

Ngaire was special guest speaker at the 2017 breakfast event alongside Australian food icon Maggie Beer.

The Business Breakfast is Alzheimer’s Australia ACT’s largest fundraising event, this year attracting around 400 delegates from Canberra’s business, government and political sectors.

In conversation on stage with Master of Ceremonies, Adam Shirley of the ABC, Ngaire Hobbins and Maggie Beer shared their passions for food ‘as close to its natural source as you can get’, the value of enjoying food with loved ones, and the importance of good diet for health – including dementia prevention.

Ngaire Hobbins is a dietitian specialising in seniors’ diets and brain health. Ngaire is passionate about helping people in their senior years enjoy vital, independent lives and understand how the demands of ageing necessitate unique advice on diet. She is author of Eat To Cheat Ageing, Eat To Cheat Dementia and the newly released Better Brain Food: Eat To Cheat Dementia and Cognitive Decline.

Back at Goodwin House, Ngaire added that when we lose weight past 70-75 years of age, we tend to also lose muscle instead of fat.

Muscle is not only important for keeping active, it’s also support for brain fuel. The brain can’t use fat as fuel, so it will actually start to use up muscle to keep going, if it needs to says Ngaire.

That’s why activity and strength building can be so vital in older age.

‘Physical activity is undeniably the most important thing to keep doing as long as you can’, said Ngaire.

A challenge for seniors is that appetite often declines with age, right when we need to be providing fuel for muscles and mind.

‘That’s why it’s so important to keep enjoying food,’ says Ngaire. ‘You may need less calories with age, but your body still needs nutrients.’

So allow yourself those foods that help keep your appetite up, suggests Ngaire: even if it’s a piece of cake or chocolate that whets those tastes buds.

Better Brain Food is available in Dymocks book stores. For Ngaire Hobbins’ other books and information, visit www.ngairehobbins.com.

Ngaire Hobbins