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Feed your brain

As we age our brain starts to slow down and lose nerve cells, but there are a number of things we can do to keep sharp

Looking after our brains as we age is as important as keeping our bones and heart healthy. Some foods can negatively affect brain cells and others can positively boost your grey matter. “High consumption of added sugar, alcohol and processed foods can all have a negative impact on our brain,” says Lucy Kerr from health store The Good Earth in Kilkenny. “A diet filled with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats can give our mind and brain the nutrients it needs for optimal health. There is also a huge link between gut and brain health.”.

“There is a growing understanding of the links between diet and brain health, and especially degenerative conditions such as dementia,” says Hannah Dare from health store and café Organico in Bantry, Co Cork. “We all need to keep a close eye on our blood sugar levels, and make sure we don’t fall into the pre-diabetic category, which could increase our risk of brain disorders as we age. Cholesterol is also important in maintaining brain health.”


“Avocadoes contain monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin K and folate that can improve brain flow and lower the risk of reduced brain function,” says Lucy Kerr.


“Beetroot and its juice is a high nitrate vegetable that increases blood flow to regions of the brain that are responsible for attention and memory,” says Lucy Kerr.


“Dark chocolate contains cocoa flavonoids which help stimulate brain blood flow and improve memory and attention span,” says Lucy Kerr.


“Coconut oil provides the brain with ketones which serve as brain fuel instead of glucose,” says Lucy Kerr. “Some people have seen significant improvement to memory after adding coconut to their diet.”


“Eggs are a source of choline which is critical for your memory and brain function,” says Lucy Kerr.

Green tea

“Green tea has been associated with better memory and increased attention,” says Lucy Kerr. This tea is rich in polyphenols that may protect the brain from mental decline and the amino acid l-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.


“Fat is very important for proper brain function, but it needs to be the right kind,” says Hannah Dare. “We need to get enough omega-3 fatty acids because these are the essential building blocks of our brain and are important for learning and memory.”

“Omega-3 oils are critical for memory and brain health,” agrees Lucy Kerr. “These are found in oily fish, flaxseed, hemp seeds and walnuts.”

Vitamin C

“Eating sufficient amounts of vitamin C-rich foods in the form of fruit and vegetables can protect against age-related mental decline,” says Hannah Dare. “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells.”

“Blueberries contain flavonoid antioxidants to reduce inflammation and improve communication between brain cells,” says Lucy Kerr.


“Turmeric is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb that has positive effects on many body systems including the brain,” says Hannah Dare. “Curcumin, an extract of turmeric, may be effective in delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function and can improve memory.”

Other curry ingredients such as chilli, ginger, coriander, cumin and pepper are also linked to protecting against dementia.

Best brain supplements

L-arginine – an essential amino acid that gets converted to nitric oxide which is a neurotransmitter in your brain.

Choline – helps to produce an important neurotransmitter vital for brain function.

Essential fatty acids such as omega-3, as so many people find it hard to eat enough oily fish. Go for one that is high in DHA.

Folic acid, vitamins B12 and B6 – great brain simulators.

Lecithin, which contains choline – a chemical your brain uses to communicate. Clinical research suggests that a diet rich in choline can lead to a sharper memory.

Vitamin B complex – vitamins B6, B9 and B12 are often linked with brain health. They can help break down homocysteine.

Magnesium – involved in healthy brain development, memory and learning.

Probiotics – help with gut health which has a huge impact on our brain health.

Vitamin D – for anyone whose mood is affected by the lack of sunlight.

Vitamin K -vital for cognitive function and brain power

Liquid formulations that contain superfoods such as wheat grass, barley grass and spirulina.

Zinc – for enhancing memory and thinking ability.

“I take the mushroom extract Lion’s Mane for brain function, and I know people also drink rosemary tea,” says Hannah Dare.

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