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Super Brain – How to charge your brain.

“A healthy outside starts from the inside.”  – Robert Urich

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

Avoid sugars

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  

Reduce stress

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.

Social Connection

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


These supplements may support healthy BDNF levels:
( always consult a doctor before starting a supplement regime)

  • Omega-3 supplements Source20
  • Magnesium, especially magnesium threonate Source21
  • Zinc Source22
  • Niacin Source23
  • Curcumin Source24
  • L-theanine, a calming amino acid found in green tea Source25

Want to improve your lifestyle, health & overall well-being? 

Start Wellness Coaching!
Wellness coaching is when a supportive & qualified wellness coach helps guide an individual in setting and achieving holistic health & wellness goals – within several dimensions.

To confirm wellness incorporates a few aspects of personal health including physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual wellness.

A 30 min intro session is offered to understand the client’s requirements and where exactly they would like to improve in their wellness; we then agree on the outcomes and work together in ensuring these outcomes and goals are achieved. I offer Wellness Coaching in the form of the below online* services: 

  • 1-hour Wellness Coaching R450 
  • Yoga Nidra R250
  • Yoga Classes R150 part of an online group
  • Personalised one-to-one Yoga R350
  • Hypnotherapy R650 (tailor-made scripts based on desired outcomes) 

Face to Face sessions can be arranged depending on location, travel costs will be included. 

Ready to start the wellness coaching journey with me as your guide? 


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4697050/
  2. https://spartascience.com/biohacking-your-brain-bdnf-why-is-it-important/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor
  4. https://selfhacked.com/blog/a-comprehensive-list-of-natural-ways-to-increase-bdnf/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33477654/#:~:text=BDNF%20stimulates%20the%20growth%20and,learning%2C%20and%20higher%20cognitive%20functions.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15145621/   
  6. https://www.zrtlab.com/blog/archive/exploring-the-connection-between-bdnf-and-alzheimers-disease/
  7. https://www.drlamcoaching.com/nem-therapy/neuroaffect/bdnf-neurodegenerative-problems-and-natural-neurology/
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350#:~:text=Regular%20aerobic%20exercise%20can%20reduce,a%20tolerance%20for%20such%20symptoms.
  9. https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALiCzsYX47CB1Hmbwb-UjF5NStrUDHiW0w:1668479504547&q=Brain-derived+neurotrophic+factor+exercise&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi6x7vBkq_7AhWUhFwKHdaLBVYQ1QJ6BAhOEAE&biw=1152&bih=548&dpr=2.5
  10. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350#:~:text=Regular%20exercise%20such%20as%20cycling,that%20helps%20nerve%20fibers%20grow.
  11. https://daveasprey.com/increase-bdnf-brain-health/#ref-list
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11119686
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25584253   
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2694409/  
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5725585/#:~:text=Sleep%20disturbances%20decrease%20BDNF%20levels,BDNF%20concentration%20in%20animal%20models.
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16533499
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3487856/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5432604/
  19. https://www.drlamcoaching.com/nem-therapy/neuroaffect/bdnf-neurodegenerative-problems-and-natural-neurology/
  20. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-019-05258-4_
  21. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25027582/
  22. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2017.00414/full
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412771/
  24. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531719301009
  25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21617527/