Ask the Expert September 26, 2016

As seen in the Tri Town News.

Valerie P. from Freehold asks:
“My father is 76 years old and still very independent. He lives at home and is still able to go out and do the usual day to day activities on his own. I have noticed that he has become forgetful sometimes. I was wondering if you knew of any holistic ideas to keep his brain healthy?”

Hi Valerie, first off I’d like to thank you for your question. Keeping your brain healthy is a very important part of your overall health. My first suggestion would be to take your Dad to his Primary Care Physician in order to be examined just to confirm that Dad’s brain is healthy. Assuming all goes well with the doctor, here are a few tips to help Dad maintain and possibly even improve his brain health…

  1. Exercise: exercise causes your brain to work at its optimum capacity which in turn will strengthen and protect the nerve cells from damage. Exercise also causes more blood flow to your brain which will also assist in protect the nerves. Regular exercise can also prevent certain cardiovascular diseases such as a stroke.
  2. Sleep: Believe it or not getting enough sleep not only helps your physical body to regenerate, but it also helps heighten your mental focus and problem solving. Adequate sleep helps to reset your brain to look at problems from a different perspective which is critical for creativity and problem solving. Sleep is also known to enhance your memories and help you “practice” and improve your performance of challenging skills.
  3. Coconut Oil: Your brain needs glucose which it uses by converting it to energy. Your brain actually manufactures its own insulin to convert glucose in your bloodstream into the food it needs to survive. If your brain’s production of insulin decreases, your brain literally begins to starve, as it’s deprived of the glucose-converted energy it needs to function normally. This is what happens to Alzheimer’s patients — portions of their brain start to atrophy, or starve, leading to impaired functioning and eventual loss of memory, speech, movement and personality. Coconut oil has a substance in it called Ketones. Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy, and a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil!
  4. Listen to Music: It’s long been theorized that listening to music may boost your brainpower; you’ve probably heard of this with the “Mozart Effect,” which suggests listening to classical music can make you smarter. Indeed, research has shown that listening to music while exercising boosted cognitive levels and verbal fluency skills in people diagnosed with coronary artery disease (coronary artery disease has been linked to a decline in cognitive abilities). In this study, signs of improvement in the verbal fluency areas more than doubled after listening to music compared to that of the non-music session. Listening to music has also been associated with enhanced cognitive functioning and improved mental focus among healthy adults, so take advantage of this simple pleasure whenever you can.
  5. Challenge your mind: One of the simplest methods to boost your brain function is to keep on learning. The size and structure of neurons and the connections between them actually change as you learn. This can take on many forms above and beyond book learning to include activities like traveling, learning to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language, or participating in social and community activities.

So Valerie, if you can do just a few of these simple tips, Dad should stay as sharp as a tack for many years to come. Also if you would like more information on brain health please feel free to stop by Allaire rehab & nursing center as we have a Neurological Program in which we teach all of these tips and more!

Brie Gallo is the Director of Case Management and Physician Relations for Allaire Rehab and nursing center. Please submit all questions to