BDNF is an acronym that stands for "brain neurotropic growth factor." BDNF is a protein that is inside nerve cells. It's function is to promote the growth, maturation and longevity of these nerve cells. It is a crucial part of a healthy brain because it is required for the function of brain cells and for new neuron growth. Throughout life, the brain continues to re-organize, remodel, and change. Optimizing BDNF is key to enhancing memory, mood, cognitive functioning, plasticity, and learning capabilities. There are certain factors that can effect BDNF in an individuals mind, both negatively and positively.
First and foremost, it is important to know that negative stress is toxic to the body in all ways and it will hender the body's optimization of BDNF. Science has proven over and over again that proper stress management, healthy living and self care has immense health benefits, and this is proven once again by seeing what activities and lifestyle habits promote BDNF growth.
Increasing and Optimizing BDNF
Making exercise a part of your daily routine is one of the best ways to increase BDNF production. After working out, BDNF protein levels are higher. Working out not only helps improve the health of your body, but also of your mind. Physical activity also increases the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which fights against depression and anxiety and helps improve mood.
2. Healthy Diet
Eating a diet that is low in sugar and artificial additives, and rich in antioxidants and healthy fat will have a profound effect on the brains production of BDNF. Excess added sugar and harmful additives, such as artificial sweeteners and neurotoxins like MSG promote inflammation in the brain and hinder BDNF production. On the other hand, nutrient rich food and brain health promoting fats reduce inflation, increase nutrient levels and aid greatly in the production of BDNF in the brain.
3. Intermittent Fasting
Fasting intermittently can have several positive benefits for the brain production of BDNF. Intermittent fasting, which is fasting from a time window of at least 14-16 hours a day is also beneficial for improving insulin resistance, which also promotes brain health and good mood.
4. Mental Activity and Meditation
When you exercise your brain in positive ways, and when you take time to meditate, BDNF is increased. Negative stress always hinders the production of BDNF, so any stress relieving or relaxing activity will promote brain health.
5. Manage Stress and Engage in Fun Activities
Similar to the point above, managing stress and engaging in fun activities is a great way to boost BDNF. Enjoying life and trying your best to incorporate at least one enjoyable activity into your day is a great way to protect your health long term.
6. Spend Time in the Sun
Spending time in the sun increases the body's production of BDNF, and also of vitamin D, which is crucial for brain health. Time in the sun also helps with overall happiness, wellness and stress levels.
7. Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep deprivation greatly hinders BDNF production, and can also have detrimental effects on overall brain health. The brain repairs itself while you sleep, and while a person may think they are making good use of their time by sleeping less, they are actually shortening their lifespan if they are depriving their body of the sleep that it needs.
From every BDNF boosting example seen above, it is clear that taking care of your body, and even making an effort to cut stress and enjoy life has overall health boosting benefits. It could even be said that taking care of yourself and tending to your health will make you smarter and sharper - because BDNF production is vital for brain health and regeneration.