The School of Arts & Sciences

Department of Natural Sciences

Berna El Rahi

Dr. Berna (El) Rahi is an assistant professor of nutrition at LAU. Her main research interest focuses on the role of nutrition in healthy and successful aging. Her research at LAU is mainly related to geriatric nutrition.

During her years of research, Dr. Rahi focused on how the diet of older adults will modulate the physical, cognitive and mental aging process. Dr. Rahi received her PhD in clinical nutrition with an emphasis on geriatrics and epidemiology from University of Montreal, Canada, with a recommendation for the honor’s list. Her PhD thesis focus was on the role of diet quality in general and protein intake in particular on the physical independence in diabetic older adults.

After her PhD, Dr. Rahi completed two postdoctoral fellowships, both in geriatric nutritional epidemiology. The first one was at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) unit 897, Lifelong Exposures and Healthy Aging group, at Bordeaux, France, where she studied the roles of the Mediterranean diet and protein intake on frailty risk. She also collaborated with the Seniors-ENRICA project in Spain where they evaluated the consumption of fruits and vegetables and risk of frailty. This work was published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, top journal in the nutrition field. Dr. Rahi then completed her second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles in geriatric psychiatry. She worked mainly with demented and depressed patients. Her role was to assess the association between nutrition, and in particular Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer’s disease. She also assessed the role of physical activity on brain thickness, where they observed that walking only 4000 steps helped maintain brain thickness in older adults and therefore prevented cognitive decline.

At UCLA, Dr. Rahi was also affiliated to the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where she was a research coordinator and a health educator on several studies.


  1. Siddarth P§, Rahi B§, Emerson ND, Burggren AC, Miller KJ, Bookheimer S, Lavretsky H, Dobkin B, Small G, Merrill DA. “Physical Activity and hippocampal sub-region structure in older adults with memory complaints”. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(3):1089-1096. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170586.
  2. Rahi B*, Ajana S, Tabue-Teguo M, Dartigues JF, Peres K, Feart C. “Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet and lower risk of frailty among French elderly community-dwellers: results from the Three-City-Bordeaux study”. “Clinical Nutrition” 2018, Epub 2017.
  3. García-Esquinas E, Rahi B, Peres K, Colpo M, Dartigues JF, Bandinelli S, Feart C, Rodríguez-Artalejo F. “Consumption of fruits and vegetables and risk of frailty: a dose-response analysis of three prospective cohorts of community-dwelling older adults”. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jul;104(1):132-42. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.125781. Epub 2016 May 18.
  4. Rahi B*, Colombet Z, Gonzalez-Colaço Harmand M, Dartigues JF, Boirie Y, Letenneur L, Feart C. “Higher Protein But Not Energy Intake Is Associated with A Lower Prevalence Of Frailty Among Community Dwelling Older Adults In The French Three-City-Cohort”. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2016 Jul 1;17(7):672.e7-672.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2016.05.005.
  5. Rahi B, Morais JA, Gaudreau P, Payette H, Shatenstein B. “Energy and protein intakes and their association with a decline in functional capacity among diabetic older adults from the NuAge cohort”. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Jun;55(4):1729-39. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-0991-1. Epub 2015 Jul 16.
  6. Rahi B, Morais JA, Gaudreau P, Payette H, Shatenstein B. “Functional decline is unaffected by diet quality alone or in combination with physical activity among generally healthy older adults with T2D from the NuAge cohort.” Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2014 Sep;105(3):399-407. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2014.07.008. Epub 2014 Jul 22.

* Corresponding author

§ Authors contributed equally to the manuscript

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