BDNF: Why We Need It, and How To Get It
BDNF is brain-derived neurotropic factor. BDNF tends to decline with age, but luckily there are ways to minimize this.
This fascinating protein participates in many key body processes. To name a few:
- Neural plasticity, which is the creation of new neurons (a.k.a nerve cells) in the brain as well as maximizing the current nerve pathways.
- Positively impacts metabolic syndrome
- Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, and cholesterol. BDNF has a positive impacts ALL of those!
- Exhibits anti-depressant activity, mood elevation (increases serotonin turnover)
- Decreases risk of neurological diseases. Lower levels present in
- Huntington’s Disease
- Bipolar disease, schizophrenia
- Heart protective
- IBS, and indigestion
There are some things we can do to naturally increase BDNF
- Moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise (running, biking, etc)
- Reduce carbohydrate intake (below 50gr/day)
- Consume polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) available in:
- Green Tea
- Dark Chocolate
- Coffee Fruit extract
- Consume foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids
- Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines
- Pecans, Walnuts
- Cod liver oil
- Flax and Chia seeds
- Cold pressed olive oil
- Spinach, Brussels sprouts
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Magnesium supplementation
- Intermittent Fasting (food restriction ranging from 16-48 hrs)
As you can see BDNF is a powerful modulator of our overall health and wellbeing. We do not have to be a victim of decreasing levels, as simple daily strategies have a positive impact. All of these strategies have other health-promoting properties as well so it’s a win-win.
Written by Jessi Cushenberry, trainer at Brookfield Country Club. Jessi has a degree in exercise science from UGA.