Book Reviews

Your Healthy Brain

A Personal & Family Guide to Staying Healthy & Living Longer

Stephen J. Kiraly
Publisher: Lulu (296 pp.)
ISBN: 978-1-48-341480-5; September 26, 2014

A comprehensive guide to the workings, care, and history of the brain.

While he’s not the first to do so, debut author Kiraly eloquently and occasionally humorously makes the case that the brain should be conceptualized in the same manner that we conceptualize our hearts or lungs—as an integral physical component of our beings that requires excellent diet and exercise—both of the mental and physical varieties. After all, a sick brain produces a sick body. The text makes the case that a long life span isn’t necessarily a happy one, especially if one’s health gives out midway, a concept that is represented by the YUC factor, or years under medical care. To this end, the book is divided into two principal sections. The first provides a layman’s guide to the brain’s basic functions and history; the second details which nutrients, activities, and behaviors are helpful or harmful. When describing the effects of stress, Kiraly notes, “Cortisol is the hormone of death!” These energetic proclamations make the book an easy and even fun read. This is purposeful: Kiraly explains in his preface that he is addressing a general audience (the book “will suffice unless you plan to go to medical school”), but he still includes technical charts and graphs to support his case. As a result, the blend of humorous, anecdotal prose with frequent visual breaks fosters a pop-science feel that is engaging and informed but never stuffy. Drawing on a wealth of recent data and debunking years of misconceptions and ignorance, Kiraly has written a work that is as full of fascinating cocktail-party tidbits as it is deeply researched concepts about how the medical professional and individual should care for the brain.

A smart, entertaining read on caring for our gray matter.

Kirkus Reviews

It is a pleasure to recommend this unique book to readers interested in maintaining a healthy brain. Health professionals of all types, as well as fitness experts, have always taken the brain for granted, as though it needed no attention. Do everything possible to look after the lungs, the heart, the joints, the muscles, and other organs, but forget about the brain since it must be able to look after itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. The brain is the most important organ of the body and its fitness should never be taken for granted. It gives rise to the mind, so a healthy brain generates a healthy mind. Looking after the brain should be at the top of our healthy lifestyle list. But, all too frequently, it is at the bottom. The consequences are frequently tragic. The brain has no pain fibers, so the warning signals we respond to elsewhere in the body are absent. That is all the more reason why we should give our brain loving care.

What principles should we follow to care for our brain? Until this book, advice was almost non existent. But Stephen Kiraly, as a specialist in geriatrics and adult psychiatry, has spent much of his professional life analyzing what leads to an unhealthy brain, and therefore what we should do to maintain a healthy brain.

He has developed easy methods for us to follow. His Healthy Brain Program has been presented, largely to professionals, at many workshops over recent years. Now he has brought it out in a book that is easy to read and suitable for the lay public. Everyone can put a copy on their shelves, hopefully where it can be referred to frequently. As a physician and brain scientist I can only wonder why it has taken the medical profession so long to begin addressing such a vital subject. This book is a first and I heartily endorse it.

— Dr. Patrick McGeer, OC,OBC, MD, PhD, FRSC
Professor Emeritus, UBC Faculty of Medicine, 2007
Director, Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research