What is BDNF?


BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) is a protein found in the brain, spine and nerves. BDNF helps neurons (brain and nerve cells) in several ways. 


  1. BDNF has been found to be essential in allowing neurons to thrive, grow and mature. 
  2. BDNF improves the survival of brain and nerve tissue that has been subjected to injuries (healing brain from stroke or trauma). 
  3. BDNF has been demonstrated to improve the function of the hippocampus (part of brain responsible for memory formation) and basal forebrain (part of brain that promotes and facilitates learning).
  4. BDNF encourages growth and differentiation of new neurons (nerve cells)and synapses (areas where nerves join).
  5. BDNF enhances the survival of neurons subjected to certain degenerative diseases. In Parkinson’s disease (PD), BDNF enhances the survival of dopaminergic neurons, improves dopaminergic neurotransmission and motor performance. 


How can you increase your body’s production of BDNF?


Research has demonstrated that BDNF production may be increased in several ways.


  1. Physical exercise has been demonstrated to increase production BDNF


  1. Hot showers soothe your sore muscles and makes your body feel great. Not only that, it is also good for your brain. Scientists have discovered that hot showers increase your brain’s production of BDNF


  1. Certain foods have been found to increase your body’s production of BDNF. Studies have demonstrated that eating vanilla increases BDNF. Honey also has been shown to increase BDNF.


  1. It is not only what you eat, but when you eat, can affect your brain’s ability to produce BDNF. Intermittent fasting may be beneficial in this regard. After 12 hours without food, many people deplete their glycogen (energy stored in the liver) and begin to burn fat as fuel. This results in the production of ketones, which the brain uses differently than glucose. Ketones may trigger the release of BDNF.