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These practices are difficult to engage in and most people will never follow them. They are included in this program for completeness. They can improve cognitive function, but the difficulty of following them is not worth the benefit for most people.

Dietary Restriction is the practice of reducing caloric intake by 30%. If you currently consume 3,000 calories per day, cut back to 2,100 calories. Do not starve yourself. Dietary Restriction is not anorexia, but rather a very controlled reduction and counting calories is important. Multiple studies have shown that engaging in dietary restriction increases neurogenesis and improves synaptic plasticity.

From an evolutionary standpoint, dietary restriction makes sense. Early humans had to hunt for meat and forage for fruits and vegetables. Their brains evolved under the premise of limited available calories. Scientists have finally identified exactly what goes on behind the scenes. When you restrict your calorie intake, brain cells are subjected to mild stress. This stress causes brain cells to go on the defensive and stockpile useful proteins, and this helps protect them from excessive stressful stimuli encountered in the future. One of these proteins is BDNF. As you learned earlier in this chapter, BDNF facilitates neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity.