How to Increase BDNF: Natural Ways to Boost Brain Function
Though the scientific consensus used to be that the brain stopped growing and developing after childhood, scientists now know that a process called neurogenesis, in which new neural connections are formed in the brain and other such changes continue to occur throughout life, with massive changes occurring during adolescence and until old age.
One contributor to the processes of change in your brain is a protein called BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF essentially repairs and strengthens the circuits in the brain that allow brain signals to travel efficiently. So, in short, the more BDNF you have in your brain, the better it works.
According to the National Institute of Health the BDNF gene aids in the creation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This helps protects neurons and allows greater efficiency in the communication of messages between your synapses.
BDNF is a Neurotrophin, a chemical that stimulates neurogenesis and the growth of synapses. It active in many parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus and the cortex which are important to memory and learning, as well as weight, and thus increasing BDNF can help to improve these area and others.
Likewise, there are many biological processes that are supported and indicative of health associated with BDNF.
Some have been as bold as to call BDNF a miracle grow for the brain as it aids in the neuroplasticity of the brain, allowing the brain to change and develop as it needs to, and it also allows you to fight the signs and symptoms of aging, as BDNF decreases with age, and could be the cause of some signs of aging, such as cognitive decline and memory loss.
Top 3 Supplements to Increase BDNF:
Korean Red Panax Ginseng
What Would Help to Increase BDNF?
There are a number of natural ways that you can increase the BDNF in your brain and body, and many of these ways are scientifically proven.
Pretty much anyone can do them, they are natural, you don't need any specialist equipment to gain the benefits and, what’s more, most of the methods are free.
So, what can you do to increase your BDNF levels?
- Exercise - One study on mice placed one set of mice in a cage with a running wheel, and the other mice in an empty cage with no means to occupy themselves. The researchers left them for a month, and those with the running wheel diligently set to running a few miles a day, as mice are wont to do.
After this time, they checked the mice’s brains for BDNF, finding those who had the running wheel had higher levels. They then wondered why. They found that the gene responsible for BDNF was inhibited in the mice who did little exercise, thus explaining their lower levels.
So, it follows that if you create and sustain a habit for exercise, you will improve your neurological health.
- Change your diet – According to most research, if you eat poorly, for example too much fat and sugar, or, as some call it, be SAD (eat the standard American diet) you will have lower levels of BDNF. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that we call certain foods ‘brain food’.
One brain food is oily fish. We should eat more of this, and unfortunately 95% of Americans do not eat enough. What’s more oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, is relatively affordable and delicious, though of course you can get your omega 3s from other foods, such as walnuts.
Other foods that can increase BDNF are turmeric and red grapes, and studies show that intermittent fasting for as little at 12 hours at a time can also increase BDNF, and this will merely involve missing your late evening snack and not eating again until breakfast.
- Train your brain – You need to keep your brain active, as this keeps BDNF levels up. It really is true that we ‘use it or lose it’, as, as we have already mentioned, BDNF can act as a miracle grow for your brain, as it increase its efficiency through increasing neuroplasticity, creating neurons and allowing them to transmit more speedily across synapses.
As you may have guessed, this is also somewhat of a vicious circle, as, if you fail to exercise you brain, you will lose some of your cognitive power over time, which will in turn make you require further training.
Training your brain could involve anything from taking an evening class to completing the crossword in the newspaper on a Sunday.
- Spend time with loved ones – Research has shown that having strong social and familial connections that are profound and long-lasting can boost BDNF levels.
So, if you have not been the best at keeping in touch with your parents, or if you’re friends often complain about you sending your apologies to social events, then you have other reasons to pick up the phone.
- Get enough sleep – Most suggest 7 hours as a way to ensure that you have a good supply of BDNF. However, if you cannot manage 7 hours a night, one way to ensure your levels do not fall is to make sure that you get enough exercise, which can compensate.
Just make sure that you do not become too sleep deprived, as research shows that those with sleep deprivation have much lower levels of BDNF.
Which Supplements Can Help to Increase BDNF?
There are a number of supplements that are said to increase BDNF levels, and many consumers are starting to experiment with these supplements in order to gain the reputed health benefits.
Below is not an exhaustive list, but merely some examples of supplements that have some level of scientific backing and consumer confidence for increasing BDNF levels.
Coffee fruit extract – Studies have shown that Coffee fruit extract raised BDNF by a huge percentage (140%), and that this was relatively long lasting, often for several hours. Given this, supplementing with coffee fruit extract every day will improve your brain health.
Curcumin – According to studies on mice, this has neuroprotective properties, increasing BDNF. For example, one study, after supplementing mice for 8 weeks with curcumin, found that there is therapeutic potential for using curcumin to restore BDNF levels in diabetic mice, and thus potentially in humans.
Ginseng – Stress seems to decrease BDNF levels, and ginseng is effective in preventing or lessening this decline and improving your mood more generally. It does this by upregulating the BDNF and TrKb system in the brain.
As well as the effect on stress, ginseng could also be useful in helping to reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and the associated memory problems through the same mechanism, and so there is great potential in using ginseng for a variety of neurological conditions.
Theanine – This increases BDNF, promoting cognitive performance more generally, according to scientific data. It does this by increasing the level of this protein in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning.
Likewise, this in turn promotes general neurological health, and will improve your capacity for learning and your working memory.
Supplements We Recommend To Increase BDNF
L-Theanine 200mg - 120 Count | Taken for its Ability to Promote Focus, Relaxation & Stress Relief
This product has excellent customer reviews, with 90% of users giving it a 4 or 5 star rating. Customers have most praised;
- Its effect on stress
- The way it aids restful sleep
- Anxiety reduction when taking the product
- The effect on mental clarity and cognition
One customer who gives the product a five star review claims that it has changed his life. He used to suffer from insomnia and could not drink a caffeinated drink without it keeping him up all night. However, this supplement has changed this, and without any negative side effects.
NutraChamps Korean Red Panax Ginseng 1000mg - 120 Vegan Capsules Extra Strength Root Extract Powder Supplement
This is another very popular product, with an extremely positive response. It can;
- Increase energy and vitality
- Improve alertness and focus
- Strengthen stamina
- Alleviate erectile dysfunction
One user of this product says that the capsules have a positive effect on their entire body: their cognition, their stamina, their memory and so much more. They were particularly happy with the small capsules, which were very easy to take.
Smarter Curcumin - Potency and Absorption in a SoftGel. 95% Tetra-Hydro Curcuminoids. The Most Active Form of Curcuminoid found in the Turmeric Root (3 Month Supply)
An amazing 97% of people have given this product either a 4 or 5 star review. Though it seems pricey, it contains a 3 months supply, and users have claimed that;
- Helps with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis
- Seems to reduce blood sugar
- Helps with pain
Most of the positive reviews mention either inflammation or pain review, with most users mentioning how it helps reduce inflammation, for example in the gums or as a result of autoimmune conditions or arthritis, and many are amazed by the results.
There have been some negative reviews, but these have been in the vast minority, with some saying it didn’t work for them and others claiming that it was expensive.
The reviews of this product are in some ways the most positive that I have ever read of any supplement, though it also has to be said that most of them mention inflammation, so it may be said to have limited use.
Potent Garden Green Coffee Bean Extract 100% Pure with Antioxidants
Though this product does not have a huge following as of yet, the initial response has been very impressive. What is even more praiseworthy is that nobody has as yet deemed this product worthy of a negative review.
The most common positives that customers have identified are higher energy, the antioxidant effect and weight loss. Customers have also praised the excellent quality control associated with the brand and the supplement more specifically.
So, though this particular supplement has not been around for long and so doesn’t have a huge following, so far consumer testimony is excellent, and if you are looking for a coffee fruit supplement, then there doesn’t appear to be any reason that you would not try this one.
Devices That Can Help to Increase BDNF
PEMFT – Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy devices use magnetic fields to heal fractures, and increasingly, to treat depression. Many studies have claimed that PEMFT therapy can improve neurological health and research has shown that it helps upregulate BDNF in the brain.
According to the evidence, PEMFT therapy is like getting a personal trainer for your brain, and it oxygenates your brain, increases energy, and can clear the waste out of your brain, known as autophagy.
NASA actually use this form of treatment for their Astronauts! If it is good enough for them, surely it’s good enough for you!
Low-Level laser therapy (LLLT) - uses low power lasers, which emit light to the body, and have traditionally been used to treat pain or heal wounds. It is a non-invasive treatment, and so is proving popular.
One study on rodents showed that it increased BDNF and led to synaptogenesis (the growth of synapses) in mice with traumatic brain injury, which could obviously have major implications for human subjects.
Other positive effects included the reduction of inflammation in the brain, neural growth, and brain lesions were reduced in size.
There is an emerging consensus that you can increase your levels of BDNF in a myriad of ways, whether they be dietary, using supplements or purchasing, hiring or booking an appointment with a practitioner to be treated using a device that can ameliorate your BDNF levels.
These forms of treatment are effective, could have profound effects on your neurological health, and are backed up by scientific research and consumer testimony. What’s more, there are ways to customize your treatment to your own comfort levels, meaning you don’t have to go all in straight away.
You can start with the lifestyle changes, such as exercise and dietary alterations, which are free and relatively simple, and then move on to the more hardcore stuff.