What is Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor?
BDNF – Brain-derived neurotrophic factor – is a protein which can be thought of as fertilizer, or the “miracle-grow” for our brain. This protein helps the brain to develop new connections, repair failing brain cells, and protect healthy brain cells.1
Maintaining adequate levels of the power-packed protein can protect our brains from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.2
It promotes the survival of existing neurons and promotes synaptogenesis in the brain.
BDNF is a secretory growth factor that supports the survival of existing neurons and promotes synaptogenesis and differentiation of new neurons (Park and Poo, 2013).3
BDNF is active in the hippocampus, cortex, and forebrain – areas vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking.4
High and low levels of BDNF?
BDNF stimulates the growth and differentiation of neurons and synapses. It thrives in the hippocampus, the cortex, and the basal forebrain, which are the areas vital for memory, learning, and higher cognitive functions.5
BDNF protects against stress-induced neuronal damage, and it might affect neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of mood disorders.6
When levels are low, it causes Difficulties with memory, fatigue, and depression. People have difficulties learning new things, Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia occur, and depression and mood swings are much more common.7
Low BDNF may include headaches, nervousness, sleep problems, irritability, and irregular heartbeat. Adrenal crashes can be triggered as well. 8
BDNF is one of the most powerful biological triggers for sharpening your mind. Incorporate one or several of these habits into your daily life to think faster, feel healthier, and perform better.
Ways to increase and manage your BDNF Levels:
Move your body.
Regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety by making your brain’s “fight or flight” system less reactive. When anxious people are exposed to physiological changes they fear, such as a rapid heartbeat, through regular aerobic exercise, they can develop a tolerance for such symptoms. 9
Regular exercise may boost mood by increasing BDNF which helps nerve fibres grow.10
Sugars and high fructose corn syrup do the opposite of eating healthy. They lower levels of BDNF and have been shown through research to have a negative effect on cognitive abilities. Eating sugar, and fructose, in particular, has been found to directly curbs BDNF production in rats11 and is linked to cognitive decline in humans. 12
Decreasing your stress level will assist in increasing BDNF levels13. Lower stress leads to lower levels of inflammation and less immune system response. Both of these factors tend to decrease BDNF when they are high14.
Sleep is necessary for good health. At least seven hours of sleep per night appears to help increase BDNF. Research has shown BDNF to decrease with sleep deprivation15.
Lack of meaningful mental stimulation leads to lower BDNF levels16.
Social isolation also contributes to depression, which decreases BDNF. Make it a point to spend time with friends regularly; the complex richness of social interaction challenges your brain and keeps it adaptable.
Breath Fresh Air and get outdoors in the Sun.
Along with exercising away from pollution, you can also make sure to open a window as often as possible. If you’re somewhere with poor air quality, use an air filter at home or in the office. A 2012 study of over 2,800 people found that seasonal variations in sunlight affected BDNF levels, and ambient sun exposure also correlated with BDNF. 17
Eat BDNF foodsDark chocolate, blueberries, and extra-virgin olive oil are high-polyphenol foods that are proven to increase BDNF and support brain health18
BDNF NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS19
These supplements may support healthy BDNF levels:
( always consult a doctor before starting a supplement regime)
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