Growing up I never thought twice about the food I ate. My parents bought it, mostly my Mom as she did the shopping, Mom prepared it, and I ate it. There was a lot of processed foods, soda, orange colored puffs that were purported to be cheese flavored, chips, preservative laden snack cakes, and things that came out of boxes, jars, and cans. Fruits and vegetables were fairly nonexistent in our refrigerator (although you could find plenty of canned ones in our cabinets!). It was the norm in our household and I really never gave it a second thought. I was in my twenties before I realized that cakes and brownies didn’t have to come out of a box. Imagine my surprise when I made my first batch of brownies “from scratch” and found them to be not only easy to make but far superior to any boxed brownie I had ever eaten.
I’ve thought a lot over the past few years about how my family ate when I was growing up, specifically the past four years, since my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. By all appearances my Mom was in great health. In her late seventies she was still watching my children and loving every minute of it while I worked part-time. She exercised daily, took medications as prescribed to control her blood pressure and cholesterol, and definitely didn’t look her age. She took great care of herself, my Dad, and their house. Then came “the phone call” – the morning she called me confused and agitated, wanting to know where my Dad was. I knew he had to be home with her, the two of them were inseparable. That phone call was the first clue my siblings and I had that something was terribly wrong. Five months later we were given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since my Mom’s diagnosis I have read a lot about Alzheimer’s. While there is no tried and true way to prevent it, there are things that we can do to lower our risk. One of those things involves the choices we make in fueling our bodies. Alzheimers.net has a list of foods to avoid in order to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately that list reads like an inventory sheet from my Mom’s pantry: white sugar, white flour, processed cheeses, processed meats, and margarine are just a few of the items on the list. Current research also suggests avoiding foods with a high glycemic index (sugary sweets such as cookies and candy) and refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, white bread). We may never truly know what impact my Mom’s diet had on her developing Alzheimer’s (but I’m not lying when I tell you she routinely ate chocolate cake for breakfast). If improving my diet and my family’s might help lower our risk of developing this disease I’m all for it. This is just one of the many reasons we started greenestbeans.com to help consumers find better ways to feed their families.