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Train your brain to remember

Just like muscles require training, the brain also requires activity, repetition and training

Dr Gita Mathai Published 17.05.23, 07:07 AM


As I age, I feel that I am losing my memory faster than everyone else. I misplace things, forget what I am supposed to be doing or where I am supposed to be going.

Misplacing things like spectacles and keys is very common, especially if a person is preoccupied with other matters. Just like muscles require training, the brain also requires activity, repetition and training. Otherwise, it will gradually lose its function.To maintain your brain in a healthy state as you age:

  • Walk for 40 minutes a day
  • Do balance exercises
  • Do tandem walking; place one foot in front of the other and walk both forwards and backwards
  • Memorise at least five lines every day
  • Learn a new language. Many free language- learning apps are available.

Knee replacement

Doctors have advised me knee replacement surgery. I have terrible pain in my right knee, which is swollen. I don’t like to take tablets indefinitely nor do I want to go for physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy may seem slow but the therapist works with you to strengthen the muscles that hold the bones of the knee joint in place. This way, the bones do not grate against each other and cause pain. Also, even if you plan to have a replacement, remember that the replaced joint remains trouble-free for only 15 to 20 years. You need to have physiotherapy before and after surgery to strengthen the joint.

Hair loss

I find that I am losing a lot of hair.

It depends on what you mean by “a lot of hair”. Losing 100 to 150 strands of hair every day is normal. Sometimes your hair is not actually falling, it is brittle and is breaking off. Check the fallen hair to see if follicles are attached.

Check if you are deficient in iron, zinc, B complex or calcium. See if you have diabetes or thyroid deficiency. Take supplements and medication to correct these. Do not massage a lot of shampoo in to your hair. Take a little bit, dilute it in water and apply it. Apply conditioner only to the lower half of the hair and not the scalp.

Oil truths

Is refined oil more healthy or unrefined oil? What should I use?

Refined oil is pressed, purified and then has some artificial ingredients added to keep it suitable for human consumption for a long period of time.

Unrefined oils are cold pressed. Other undesirable soluble components in the oil seed, such as gums, waxes and colourants, can also mix with the oil. They are not fit for human consumption. The process of refining eliminates these gums and waxes from the extract and makes it edible for humans. No unhealthy chemicals are added to refined oil.

Some toxic products like aflatoxin (from fungal growth) can contaminate oils while they are being made. These products are unhealthy and carcinogenic. They are removed during the oil refining process.

Both are cold pressed and refined oils are healthy. As far as choosing which type of oil to use, I’d say the choice lies with you.

Hard as nails

My son’s fingernails and toenails are tough. It is very difficult to cut them. The nail cutter sometimes slips out of my hand. My son claims that it hurts.

One way to make cutting nails easier is to soak his hands and feet in warm water — to which you have added a teaspoon of salt and a little soap — for 10 to 15 minutes. Then take out one limb at a time and try to cut the nails. This method usually works. If the nails are also brittle, it is worth consulting a dermatologist to see if there is any other problem or deficiency.

The writer has a family practice at Vellore and is the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to

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