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Ways to Increase BDNF – Key Protein for Healthy Brain Cells

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) encourages the formation of new brain cells and protects existing ones. This article is for all you need to know about BDNF and natural ways to increase it.

Researches recognize that the brain continuous to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life span of a human being. Actually neurotrphins are chemicals that help to control and stimulate neurogenesis, and BDNF among them being the most active. BDNF is much active in the hippocampus, cortex, and forebrain – area responsible for learning, memory and thinking. Hence BDNF is a chemical that is important for long term memory.

Causes of Low BDNF Level

It has been identified that a high consumption of processed foods, especially one that has high levels of sugar and fat, decreases the level of BDNF. Doctors can measure the BDNF with blood tests and saliva assays.

Lower BDNF is linked with different brain conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and suicidal behavior. (Source: Wikipedia)

So it is clear that BDNF levels are negatively impacted by an unhealthy lifestyle.

Another strong reason for lower level of BDNF is STRESS. Stress is a disaster for your brain health and mental well-being. The stress hormone cortisol halts the production of BDNF and resulting in fewer new brain cells formation.

If a pregnant woman stresses out, the child will have a lifelong propensity to the level of BDNF and results in more psychiatric disorders.

Finally, your age is also responsible naturally. As you grow older, BDNF levels naturally decline with age.

How to increase BDNF Level

It would be great if it came in a pill, but unfortunately it doesn’t. Because BDNF when taken either orally or by injection doesn’t cross the brain’s protective blood barrier.

So for now, upgrading your lifestyle is the only way to increase the BDNF level. Have some good exercise regularly, a good sleep and dietary habits.

Increase BDNF with Physical Exercise

The link between BDNF and exercise has been known for a long time, but researchers were excited to recently discover that exercise actually turns on the gene that sends a signal to create more BDNF. The hippocampus, the part of the brain most associated with learning and memory, is especially receptive to new brain cell formation brought about by exercise.

Recommended Exercises:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Sprint
  • Yoga
  • Dance

Increase BDNF Through Lifestyle Activities

If you don’t have enough time to exercise regularly, here are a few ways that you will enjoyable than jogging!

Listening to Music: Music can lift your mood and reduce cognitive decline. To the good, it also impacts the production of BDNF, shows research.

Spend some time under the sun: We all know one benefits of having exposure to the sun is Vitamin D. It also help in production of BDNF. But that doesn’t mean that taking Vitamin D supplements will give a hike to BDNF chemical level. If you want more BDNF you must get out in the sun.

Spend time with friends and family: We all know that socialization always help to build a good mental health. Actually it is credited to the hormone oxytocin. And another benefit as per study (by Cambridge.org), shows that it might improve the BDNF levels.

Social isolation is a usual problem in elderly people, whose brain could benefit most from the boost of BDNF.

Increase BDNF with Diet

When the diet that increases the BDNF level, Mediterranean diet comes at top and is always regarded as the healthiest diet. Reason, it contains unprocessed high-quality foods — fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, poultry, nuts, whole grains, and legumes topped off with a little red wine.

And yes, Indian, and Asian meet the requirements of a Mediterranean diet.

High fat, low carb (ketogenic diet), gives a good raise to the BDNF level. But make sure you can’t stay on ketogenic diet for a long time.

Avoid foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat, as they decreases the production of BDNF.

Interestingly, the chewing activity promotes BDNF production. So prepare foods that you need to chew rather than involving in juices and smoothies. Eat raw fruits rather than juices, in short.

Foods rich in flavonoids such as blueberries, chocolate, green tea, olive oil and turmeric, also boost production of BDNF.

See fortunately, boosting BDNF doesn’t have to be complicated and is largely under your control.

Dr. Vishal Jogi

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