We’ve all heard of the wonder chemical in our brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or the BDNF. Many experts regard this growth hormone as the one responsible for the creation of new neurons (aka neurogenesis). Low levels of BDNF (also called Abrineurin) are linked to neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. These are all dreaded neurological conditions, so what better way to prevent them from ruining your life than to adopt a healthy and mindfulness lifestyle?
The protein is also found in the plasma and the cerebral spinal fluid, but it’s in the brain that it’s most beneficial. Many medical professionals desire to know more about this neurogenic compound, with hopes that it may lead to answers to prevalent health and mental problems in our society.
When the brain constantly regenerates, that only entails better cognitive performance. This is deemed to be one of the most active and most important hormones. What then, are the significant changes in us when our BDNF levels rise?
Enhances Learning Capability
Although there’s no direct relationship between high levels of BDNF and intelligence, this hormone is undeniably essential for an enhanced learning capability. This protein aids in neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity and synaptic connectivity formation and neuronal survival.
Many experts attribute improved memory and recall to substantial levels of BDNF in the brain. According to fitness expert Art De Vany, the constant formation of new networks allows the forming and consolidating of memory, paving the way for clearer thinking and faster learning of new skills.
Since the discovery of the neurotrophin, a lot of studies have emerged to discover more about its wonders in the human brain and its potential remedies to mental disorders. Among them found is its relationship to depression. Many antidepressants have properties signaling the production of more BDNF, thus to improve the patient’s mood and perspective.
Boosts the Mood and Emotions
On ordinary situations, when tapped by certain physical activities or supplements, BDNF gives the mood and emotions a lift. Abrineurin is often associated with intense exercises and such physical activities contribute to the improvement in the mood and behavior.
What to do?
Get Enough Sleep
Chronic sleep problems can affect neurotrophin expression. Disrupted sleep, when unaddressed, can lead to decreased BDNF levels, as a study shows a significant difference between those who suffer insomnia and those who are sleep-healthy.
Interestingly, scientists have seen an increase in the hormone among those who’ve had an acute sleep deprivation, making such as a therapeutic intervention for those with insomnia and depression. However, when getting insufficient sleep gets chronic, then the opposite can take place.
When deprived of quality and the recommended amount of sleep, our system gets disrupted and our body can only cope for some time. Thus, it still bests that we should not abuse our natural inclination to rest.
Dealing with stress is a part of our day-to-day life. However, knowing how to manage it and de-stress at the same time is essential for coping. Stress needs to be expelled from our system as much as possible, that’s why we’re advised by doctors to go for a walk in the park, meditate and exercise, among other things. Instead of stress-eating, go for active routines – those that require movement – to diffuse it.
Indulge In Essential Exercises
If you think working out is only for the body-conscious members of the society, think again. Exercising should be everybody’s favorite hobby, as it won’t only maintain a healthy physique, it’ll also boost your self-confidence and positive emotional state.
Just like its cousin’s serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, BDNF surges during intense exercises. Furthermore, fitness expert John J. Ratey tells us in his book Go Wild that the human body is designed to do multiple planes of movement like sprinting, throwing, jumping, hitting and lifting heavy stuff. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is perfect to induce yourself with BDNF naturally. This only further supports the contention that regular physical exercises improve cognitive functions and lowers the risk for age-related cognitive decline.
If you often dig in sweets and everything sweet, better be wary this time around. Studies show that a high-fat and refined sugar diet reduces the production of BDNF, leading to lower neuronal plasticity and learning.
Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting are what experts now recommend, as frequent energy intake could lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. However, scientists also impose caution when attempting to adopt this diet, as it might not work beneficially to some people.
Intermittent fasting is getting popular in the past few years. It’s eating at a particular schedule (termed window) that’s a total of six hours in a day. This should be applied with caution, as this might backfire when overdone or coupled with rigorous activities throughout the day. Though the aim is to cut the frequency of taking in food, allowing the body to completely burn all the excess fat, experts advise that it should be done gradually, keep potassium level normal and don’t over-eat, among other things.
Actual social interactions also contribute to the production of much-needed Abrineurin. Though this approach was only tested on rodents, we can somehow adhere to the principle that people need to keep in touch and communicate often to maintain a healthy cognitive condition. Many studies claim that when living in constant isolation, it decreases the level of BDNF with high-risk of stroke and dementia.
Bathe in the Sun
Not solely for the purpose of getting a tan, but basically to get ample sunlight the body needs to produce plenty of BDNF throughout the body.
As a decrease in this hormone is often associated with depression, scientists are now looking at other possible contributors to the condition. Another aspect they look into is the exposure to sunlight, as they notice that neurotrophin levels fluctuate as seasons change. Thus, when ambient sunshine isn’t available, taking in high-quality vitamin D can suffice.
Take Natural Supplements
While there are available drugs to take to elevate BDNF levels, nature also has its own variety for people to enjoy without any fears of overdose or side effects.
Natural wonders like resveratrol, green tea and omega-3 are scientifically-proven to combat degenerative diseases and can slow down aging. They’ve also been found to improve the production of this hormone. Also, herbs like Ashwagandha, Bacopa, and Turmeric have compounds that signal the expression of this neurogenic protein.
We don’t need to bombard our bodies with more artificial stuff because our very own design and Mother Nature have come up with ways to address our growing needs in coping with today’s challenges. Hence, let’s indulge in her wonders and enjoy the benefits they can only give for our well-being.
Contributed by: Abigail Sabijon a blogger and editor of Scoopfed.com