Ngaire is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a varied career culminating in a specialisation in ageing, aged care, brain health and dementia in the past two decades.
Ngaire’s passion lies in helping all older people enjoy independent, productive and fulfilling lives in their later years, whether they live in their own homes or in assisted care.
While primarily a clinician, Ngaire is especially skilled at translating complex science into accessible language, offering sensible, practical advice for everyday people. Her three books: Eat To Cheat Ageing, Eat To Cheat Dementia and Better Brain Food, provide evidence based advice in everyday language, alerting older and younger adults as well as health care professionals to the unique nutrition needs of ageing and offering guidance on the combination of the right food with activity to helps avoid malnutrition-related physical and mental decline.
Wisdom of the Elders: Family and Food Stories Guide Eating to Reduce Chronic Inflammation.
Our elders have an immense, and widely underappreciated, advantage: they predominantly grew up eating foods in their original form. Most modern, ‘processed’ foods were completely unknown in the childhood and young adulthood of people now in their 80s and 90s and so called ‘discretionary foods’ like confectionery, sweetened drinks and salty snacks, were a rare treat. Not only that, but these people were less likely to have routinely overconsumed energy as is common today, or to have been obese in younger or middle adulthood.
All of these are beneficial and minimise chronic inflammation; a factor driving several health conditions which reduce quality of life with ageing, including influencing the development of dementia. Reducing the impact of chronic inflammation in youth and middle adulthood is important for all people and especially for healthy ageing into the future. Research into chronic inflammation, ageing and brain health suggests that eating food in the form closest to its origins tends to reduce chronic inflammation while eating more foods changed significantly from original before eating, tends to increase it.
In the past 50 plus years, food processing has moved from basic preservation by fermentation, drying or using added salt/sugar, to more complex systems using novel food ingredients or multiple processes involving repeated heating/cooling, cooking, extruding, etc, giving us foods which are frequently very desirable and/or convenient, but bear little or no resemblance to their contributing elements. Many processed foods are not only significantly changed in structure and form, but also contain high amounts of sugars and dietary fibre-devoid starches as well as substances either not naturally present, or present in levels not seen in the original food.
These changes from original food to what we eventually eat create small and large alterations within foods that may be contributors to damaging chronic inflammation. The impacts are probably inconsequential individually, but may accumulate and compound over time: the longer people live, the greater chance that impacts which are harmless individually, might add up to create problems.
Stories of life and food, gathered in conversations with octo- and nonagenarians are interwoven with the research evidence in this presentation. They reveal wisdoms of our elders and offer a narrative to guide both young and older in embracing food good for both body and soul; food we have really always known was good for us.