BDNF and Alzheimer's Disease
BRAIN HEALTH // Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF, is like how Harvard Psychiatrist John Ratey would say, “is like Miracle-Gro for your brain.” We’re always talking about how the brain is deteriorating, we now focus on things that help build the brain!
BDNF plays a role in the brain cell’s growth, maturation and maintenance. It is at this point uncertain if levels of BDNF can be diagnostic of Alzheimer’s Disease, as there are studies out there showing that those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can have low, normal, and high levels of BDNF . But there are also suggestions that these studies may have different methodologies.
There are many ways to boost BDNF production for optimal brain function:
► Exercise - Intense cardiovascular exercise can boost cognition. That is why those who exercise are found to have better memory function.
► Meditation - Stress management is crucial. People who are under a lot of stress produce a lot less BDNF. This could be the reason why people cannot think clearly when they’re stressed!
► Sleep - BDNF is reduced greatly with sleep deprivation!
► Polyphenols - Antioxidant-rich compounds found in berries, grapes, dark chocolate, and more!
► Sunlight - Something simple as getting sun, especially in the morning hours, can boost BDNF levels. Ensure you get some form of sunlight!
► Intermittent Fasting – By resting our guts periodically and allowing the body to undergo autophagy (meaning ‘self-eating’ or the body’s mechanism of cleaning) also is correlated to increased levels of BDNF. More on Intermittent Fasting in a future post!
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Reference: Balietti M, Giuli C, Conti F. Peripheral Blood Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor as a Biomarker of Alzheimer's Disease: Are There Methodological Biases? Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Aug;55(8):6661-6672. doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0866-y. Epub 2018 Jan