OBI’s 2023-24 Public Talks series, Brain Health Basics, concluded on a vibrant note with the engaging and insightful ‘Eat and Play for Brain Health’ talk held on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. This session delved into simple yet profound ways to support brain function in everyday life, emphasizing the crucial role of community, food, and social connections in nurturing not just our bodies but also our minds and spirits.

The event commenced with former of Board of Directors member Susan Fitzpatrick’s opening remarks, reminding us that nourishment for the brain extends beyond mere sustenance; it encompasses a holistic approach that includes emotional and social elements. As she put it, “Feeding our bodies and feeding our psyches is not a luxury, it is a basic and essential need.”

The panel discussion featured distinguished experts who shared invaluable insights:

Dr. Guylaine Ferland, a nutrition professor at Université de Montréal and member of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, shared insights on brain-healthy nutrition and the social aspect of dining experiences. She emphasized the misconception around frozen fruits and vegetables, stating, “Frozen fruits and vegetables have virtually the same nutritious value as the fresh ones”. Guylaine also delved into the development of the brain-healthy food guide, integrating principles from the Mediterranean and DASH diets. She highlighted the importance of community and social interaction in fostering a healthy relationship with food and overall well-being. Guylaine’s expertise provided a deep understanding of how dietary choices impact cognitive well-being and the role of social dining experiences in enhancing appetite among the elderly.

Shae London, Executive Director at The Stop Community Food Centre, brought a unique perspective shaped by personal experiences. Growing up in challenging circumstances, she understands firsthand the impact of financial struggles on food access and well-being. She emphasized The Stop’s mission to address hunger and support holistic well-being through various programs and opportunities of engagement. Shae’s advocacy underscored the importance of recognizing food as a basic human right and the transformative power of community support in overcoming food insecurity.

“We’re not just feeding the hungry, we are also nourishing the hopes and dreams of the entire community.”

Shae London, Executive Director at The Stop Community Food Centre

David Wolfman, a trained chef, culinary arts professor at George Brown College, and executive producer and host of the popular Cooking with the Wolfman™ television program, shared insights on food sustainability and mindful cooking practices. He reflected on the importance of utilizing ingredients efficiently to minimize waste, stating, “As a cook, what do I have and what can I prepare? Food is expensive, and we can’t waste it.” David emphasized the need for a balanced approach to cooking that respects food resources and promotes sustainability. His indigenous background also added a cultural perspective to the discussion, highlighting the connection between food, culture, and environmental stewardship.

Moderated by Farah Qaiser, a genomics researcher and science communicator, the panel explored themes of community building, social inclusion, and the transformative power of shared meals. Farah’s expertise in bridging scientific knowledge with public engagement added depth to the conversation, highlighting the intersection of food, health, and social well-being.

The ‘Eat and Play for Brain Health’ talk provided practical tips for brain-healthy eating on a budget and celebrated the profound impact of communal dining experiences in fostering resilience, connection, and holistic well-being.

As we reflect on the insights shared during this event, let’s continue to nourish our bodies, minds, and communities, recognizing that food is not just sustenance; it’s a celebration of life and togetherness.

Stay tuned for more inspiring discussions and insights from OBI’s ongoing initiatives in promoting brain health and well-being.

Watch OBI’s Eat and Play Public Talk on YouTube




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