‘I don’t want it to happen’: Maggie Beer’s war on Alzheimer’s

Australian cook and and food author Maggie Beer has long been passionate about improving food in Australia’s aged care sector. Now, she has released a cookbook co-authored with renowned Alzheimer’s researcher Professor Ralph Martins.

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Maggie’s Recipe for Life has a strong focus on foods that are, according to scientific study, “good for the brain”. Her aim is to help sufferers of Alzheimer’s—a disease that recently became the single biggest killer of Australian women.

“When you see a difference being made about something that’s very important to people that don’t have the ability to do it for themselves, then you do it,” Beer says in an interview on Sunday Night. 

Read more: Maggie Beer spills her secrets for health and wellbeing

“Every green you can imagine is great for the brain. Every coloured vegetable, the purples, the oranges, the reds—they just have that extra edge to them,” Beer tells interviewer Alex Cullen.

Vegetables and antioxidants play a large part in the recipes from Beer and Martins’ new book, which emphasises the importance of a Mediterranean-style diet.

After being named Australian of the Year in 2010, Beer spoke to “executives of Australian aged care … and detected ‘anger’ in the room when she discussed the bad, and the good, of food in aged care at that time” according to HammondCare.

But the recalcitrance of those executives didn’t stop Beer from soldiering on and speaking out for what she believed in. In 2014, she joined forces with Country Health SA to improve food for aged care facilities in South Australia.

In March 2017, Beer held a masterclass for 30 chefs working in aged care facilities, seeking to help them improve the quality and variety of food for Australians in aged care.

Read more: Maggie Beer ramps up push for better food in aged care

At the age of 72, Beer knows that she could one day develop dementia or Alzheimer’s, but she’s determined to give herself the best fighting chance possible.

“I want to have another 20-something years of being involved and effective in the things I want to do,” she says in the Sunday Night interview. “I think I’m lucky in that I’ve had a lifetime of eating like this but that doesn’t mean that I’m immune and I just don’t want it to happen.”

Have you ever worried about the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in your future?