The brain should be nourished and kept in training to ensure a plastic and adaptable mind, able to regenerate itself throughout our life. Diet, moderate exercise, herbs, spices and herbal teas help to protect the brain, improve memory and connections between neurons. But also the lifestyle, namely all the activities performed in our free time, and meditation are to be taken into consideration for the health of the mind.
Lifestyle may be helpful to improve neuroplasticity. In particular, getting information, studying, carrying out work and leisure activities that require mental effort protect the brain and reduce the risk of cognitive decline with aging (Phillips, Neural Plast, 2017). Solving puzzles, such as sudoku or rebus, playing cards, learning a second language, but also reading, using the computer or playing a musical instrument, all these are examples of activities that make the brain work and train it by protecting it. Social activities, such as going to the theater, concerts, cultural and artistic events, traveling, spending time with family and friends or dancing, also help to protect the brain. To understand how these activities affect neuroplasticity, it is necessary to think of them as able to create a reserve. It is precisely to this reserve that the brain draws to compensate for any imbalances or pathologies that, instead, become manifest when this reserve is exhausted. This explains how it has been possible to observe in people engaged in intellectually stimulating activities a lower atrophy of the hippocampus with aging.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the brain draws on its reserve to be able to compensate for any imbalances. So, the larger this reserve, the more we can give chances to our brain to adapt, reorganize and regenerate whatever happens. Another way to increase this reserve is through mindfulness meditation (Phillips, Neural Plast, 2017). Meditation, in fact, has shown to beneficially influence several brain areas, including the hippocampus, the frontopolar part of the cortex or the orbitofrontal region, which are related to attention, memory and concentration and which tend to decline with aging.