A real food revolution is being embraced by tens of thousands of ageing Queenslanders as part of a Christmas calendar project which has been rolled out across the state.
Recipes designed to be good for the mind and body of seniors are at the heart of the calendar which was delivered in the lead-up to Christmas by Ozcare to over 20,000 people, including many living with dementia.
The calendar includes many of the ingredients that Dementia Australia recommend for a healthy diet for people living with illness, which is the second leading cause of death of Australians.
Several staff at the not-for-profit aged care provider rigorously tested the 12 recipes for the 2020 calendar project, which is the brainchild of Ozcare Dementia Advisor Denise Hodder, a fierce advocate for fresh food for the ageing.
“Studies are showing that changing the way we eat can delay ageing in our brain and reduce the risk of dementia,” Ms Hodder said.
“Our recipe calendar is something our clients look forward to receiving every year so this year we were determined to do something to improve the lives of people living with dementia by featuring recipes that are low in sugar and high in protein.
“There are lots of leafy greens, fresh fruit, reef fish and grains in a lot of the recipes we have chosen. We have fresh fruit smoothies and traditional Christmas apricot balls with a healthy twist.
There is a beetroot brownie in the calendar that I was a bit worried about how it would actually taste, but it is really delicious and my 15-year old won’t stop eating it.
“The recipes also focus on good sources of protein which are important to maintaining muscle health and strength as people age. Muscle loss can affect gait and balance which leads to falls for many seniors. The recipes we have chosen include lots of protein-rich ingredients, such as yoghurt, milk, cream, eggs, chicken, mince and cheese.
“We have included all the good stuff that people like to eat. We had to choose from 20 recipes for the calendar, so tried to select those that are most healthy for ageing and do not exclude any of the food groups.”
According to latest findings by scientists from the Australian Catholic University, a link was found between junk food diets and an increased risk of dementia in women.
In the study, published in Science Direct, it was found that women who ate a diet of junk food had a build up in their brains of beta-amyloid – a protein that has links to Alzheimer’s Disease.
The women in the study who ate a predominately high-fat, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet were found to have less of the protein and at less risk of dementia.
Ozcare’s Head of Aged Care Lanna Ramsay said understanding how to slow down the progress of dementia through diet was a serious consideration for aged care providers as prevention is currently the only cure for the illness.
“We are focussed on improving the quality of life of our clients in many ways. The calendar is full of ingredients that are easily accessible. We have established vegetable gardens at our facilities that residents help to maintain as part of therapy for the illness,” Ms Ramsay said.
“Some of our facilities have very well-established veggie gardens and our cooks in our kitchens are able to source a lot of the fresh produce, such as carrots, cabbages, beans, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes.
“Our residents enjoy the chance to look after the produce, which is part of reminiscence therapy for many of them because almost everyone had a veggie garden back in their childhood.”
According to Dementia Australia, eating a diet high in vitamins can be very important as a lack of nutrients can increase the confusion often associated with the illness.
Dementia Australia recommends the following tips for a healthy diet:
- Enjoy your food
- Eat a variety of foods with an emphasis on plant foods
- Eat the right amount to maintain a healthy weight
- Eat plenty of foods rich in fibre
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (five servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day)
- Limit read meat, but have fish twice a week
- Limit fried food and processed snacks
- Avoid foods high in saturated fats
- Limit sugary foods and drinks
- Avoid foods high in salt and do not add salt to cooking
- Drink plenty of water and only drink alcohol in moderation