Improving Brain Function With BDNF


A protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor is a key factor for not only creating new neurons, but also for protecting existing neurons and encouraging synapse formation within the brain. The defense of these neurons is vital for our thinking, learning, and brain function process. Low levels of BDNF are associated with a multitude of neurological conditions, including depression, anorexia nervosa, depression, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Thankfully, the production of BDNF is completely within our own hands, and can be activated by voluntary physical exercise (Sorry, but sobbing while your overly-paid personal trainer screams at you to jog faster doesn’t count), caloric reduction, intellectual stimulation, curcumin, and docosahexacnoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fat.

There’s a direct relationship between levels of BDNF in voluntarily exercising animals and humans and their ability to think and learn. Studies show that 20 minutes of exercise per day can increase memory, cognitive function, language ability, and attention span.

Reducing calorie intake by around 30 percent per day will vastly increase your brain’s production of BDNF, along with enhancing your memory skills and brain function. Studies have shown that those who don’t restrict their caloric intake actually show a decline in memory function, and those who do show a great increase in their memory function. Simply lowering your sugar intake can reduce your calories, which in turn helps you lose weight, lower blood sugar, and decrease your chances of obesity, all of which increase BDNF, which ultimately reduces your appetite. Finally, a cycle with a happy ending.

BDNF increases from stimulating activities and induces positive growth, health, and functionality in the brain neurons. Studies have shown that people with a higher education background are at a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Problem solving, exploring novel environments, and most importantly, regular meditation increase the production of BDNF levels. Research shows that meditation is an active, brain-stimulating activity that very well could be the most powerful stimulant for increased BDNF.

A sharper brain could be as simple as eating more curry. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which has the innate ability to increase BDNF. Individuals who regularly consume high levels of curcumin are much more resistant to Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. Curcumin has also been proven to turn on genes that produce numerous antioxidants that in turn protect the mitochondria.

DHA is a brain nutrient that helps pass information from one neuron to the next and is vital to high levels of brain function. DHA protects against inflammation, which can lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and multiple sclerosis. DHA helps increase the production of brain cells while improving their functionality, in turn leading to increased BDNF. We humans can create DHA from alpha-linolenic acid, a common omega-3 fat. Unfortunately, too little DHA is produced this way because we don’t consume the necessary 200-300 milligrams daily suggestion, and so it is essential to add a dietary source of this key nutrient to your everyday diet.

BDNF not only improves the everyday functionality of your brain, it can also protect it from trauma, insufficient blood supply, and environmental toxins. Luckily, producing more BDNF is as simple as making a few lifestyle changes, and can leave us with the reassurance that our brains cells are almost completely protected from a multitude of mitochondrial neurotoxins that spend their days searching for a few neurons to destroy.

Eilise Ward