SPAC hosts nutritional health events with Dr. Annie Finn and Dr. Katie Takayasu

Food is many things – savory, spicy, sweet, and even medicine.

A new series hosted by Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s CulinaryArts @ SPAC program will show locals how food, when made and eaten selectively, can be medicinal to the body, nourishing it properly and serving as a preventive measure against certain diseases.

The food is medicine chain includes two combinations. The first, scheduled for January 27, will be a conversation with Dr. Annie Finn. She is an obstetrician turned chef, and has written a book focusing on foods that can help people prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The second session, March 25th, will feature Dr. Katie Takayasu, an integrative medicine physician who will enlighten the audience about putting plants first in your diet for better overall health.

Pam Abrams, co-producer of the event, said many people are wiping the slate clean at the start of the new year to focus on what they can do better. Now is the perfect time to host such a series.

Both events will be held in the Nancy DiCresce Room in the Pine Section of SPAC from 6 pm to 8:30 pm The discussion with Fenn by Joe Donahue will also be broadcast on WAMC at a later date.

Tickets for the January 27th event can be purchased online. Admission for $75 includes discussions, drinks, and recipe tastings from each of the speakers’ books. Attendees can also purchase Dr. Annie Finn’s book at the discounted price of $30 and have it signed by her at the event.

Tickets for the March 25th event will be available at a later date.

“Cooking is a way to improve health, and who doesn’t care?” Many people are interested in eating better but don’t know exactly the recipes or the best foods for doing so, said Abrams (who occasionally writes for the Times Union).

After practicing her specialty for 20 years, Finn retired in 2015 and decided it was time to do something different – culinary school.

Shortly after graduating, she began teaching healthy cooking classes and running a culinary dementia prevention program at her local hospital until 2015, when Rush University published a study of the MIND, or Mediterranean Diet, Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delays, prompting It shows that what you eat can eat a lot. Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Finn’s mother was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which is an early stage of cognitive impairment or memory loss. Weakness doesn’t always progress to Alzheimer’s, but in the case of Finn’s mother, this was an early stage.

The diagnosis prompted Finn to dive deeper into the study and find out how she could use food to slow cognitive decline. It ended up giving birth to the Brain Health Kitchen, which promotes food as preventative medicine, and recipe sources backed by science.

The Mind Diet study provided Fenn with the essentials, and several brain-healthy food groups to prioritize such as leafy greens, vegetables, fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, whole grains, olive oils and berries. She said leafy greens, for example, contain phytonutrients that can fight oxidative stress in the brain and slow brain aging.

“These are just whole foods that are really inexpensive and really easy to cook. People just need to know the recommended dose,” she said.

The study also identified food groups that should be avoided and limited, which consist of fast and fried foods, pastries or sweets, dairy products, ultra-processed foods, artificially sweetened beverages, and alcoholic beverages.

It might come as a surprise, at first, to hear about some of the ingredients that go into simple meals that Fenn has reproduced, like using cashews to make a nutty spread for grilled cheese. But adding a little grated Gruyere cheese can make all the difference. Now, instead of treating yourself to sliced ​​cheese, you have homemade treats that are equally rich in flavor and provide brain health, according to Levin.

“I always have a little luscious touch in all my recipes,” she said.

Sean Mack, a D.C.-area health coach, echoes a lot of this for his clients. He works with individuals to tailor diets to their circumstances with an emphasis on eating whole foods rather than highly processed foods that are full of preservatives and additives.

“It’s nourishment on a different level than if you were eating unprocessed food. It’s like nourishing your mind and soul, too.”

Working with groups like Root3d in Albany and Community Parents in Schenectady, he’s trying to show people that food should be viewed holistically. Mac believes that what you consume is related to your mental and physical health.

“It’s really about choice, too. When someone makes a choice to eat more fruits and vegetables, not only will their body get those nutrients that they need, but they’ll also feel better mentally because they’re making a choice that’s good for their body, so they’ll get that dopamine rush,” he said. And they feel good about themselves.” “It’s also about the mentality. So, I’ve tried to incorporate all of that into each individual plan.”

What MAC stands for is the opposite of what diets and social media trends are pushing. The problem with fads, he said, is that they send people to extremes and once the diet is over their bodies either go back to what they were doing before or leave them depleted. He often said that these trends have a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t take into account that everyone is different.

What it’s really about is helping people make the connections, whether that’s one cashew or strawberry at a time.

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