The Best BDNF Supplements, Foods, And Lifestyle Hacks

Medically reviewed by Dr. Saad Ansar — Written by Erik Abramowitz, FNTP
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The Best BDNF Supplements, Foods, And Lifestyle Hacks

For those looking for optimal cognitive function, BDNF is the holy grail.

In short, BDNF is the magic ingredient that fires up your brain’s ability to learn and remember new things, while simultaneously staving off cognitive decline.

Having healthy BDNF levels is essential for optimal brain performance.

The good news is that you can implement many simple hacks in your daily life to naturally increase bdnf expression.

The following article walks you through the supplements, foods, activities, and lifestyle hacks that naturally increase BDNF production.

What Is Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein essential for the growth and maintenance of neurons and is produced in large amounts in the central nervous system.1Siresha Bathina , Undurti N Das, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implicationsArch Med Sci. 2015

It is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors that support the adult brain in reorganizing its neural network by forming new connections.

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BDNF is produced by neurons and secreted into the brain, where it binds to receptors on other neurons and promotes the growth and survival of these cells. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are the primary brain areas involved.2Magdalena Miranda , Juan Facundo Morici , María Belén Zanoni, Pedro Bekinschtein Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological BrainFront Cell Neurosci. 2019

Function

BDNF protein is also essential for memory and learning, as it helps to strengthen synaptic connections between neurons.3Siresha Bathina , Undurti N Das, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implicationsArch Med Sci. 2015

Additionally, BDNF has been shown to protect against cell death and improve cognitive function in animal models of neurological disease.4Magdalena Miranda , Juan Facundo Morici , María Belén Zanoni, Pedro Bekinschtein Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological BrainFront Cell Neurosci. 2019

The protein also plays a role in the development and plasticity of the brain, and it has been implicated in various neurological disorders.

Thus, this protein represents a potential target for treating neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Further research is necessary to understand the precise role of BDNF in the brain cells and to determine whether or not it can be harnessed to treat all neurological diseases in humans.

The BDNF Gene

A gene called BDNF encodes the protein.

Different BDNF genetic variants can make people more or less likely to have low BDNF levels.

The main variant, known as the Val66Met variant, decreases BDNF levels significantly. 5Hui Yu , Dong-Dong Wang, Yue Wang, Ting Liu, Francis S Lee, Zhe-Yu Chen, Variant brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism alters vulnerability to stress and response to antidepressantsJ Neurosci. 2012

While all people experience lower levels of BDNF as they age, people with Alzheimer’s disease have significantly lower levels than healthy people.6Galit Weinstein et al, Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the risk for dementia: the Framingham Heart StudyJAMA Neurol. 2014

If you are concerned about your cognitive health, you should be aware of BDNF.

Fortunately, you can naturally increase your BDNF production through diet and lifestyle choices.

Read on to learn more about these methods!

BDNF and Brain Health

As stated above, the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is essential for proper brain function.

When your brain cells are damaged or subjected to a stressful situation, BDNF protects them and helps them recover, relieving depression.7Siresha Bathina , Undurti N Das, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implicationsArch Med Sci. 2015

Your neural pathways become more flexible rather than shutting down, which may explain why higher BDNF levels are linked to depression prevention.8Siresha Bathina , Undurti N Das, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implicationsArch Med Sci. 2015

BDNF levels are also lower in people with depression who failed to respond to treatment.

Antidepressants have been shown to increase BDNF expression.9Galit Weinstein et alSerum brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the risk for dementia: the Framingham Heart StudyJAMA Neurol. 2014

Decreased BDNF levels have been linked to neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.10Anita E Autry , Lisa M Monteggia Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neuropsychiatric disordersPharmacol Rev. 2012

Additionally, people with schizophrenia have been found to have lower BDNF levels than healthy controls.

BDNF can play a vital role in synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis in such patients and has been shown to protect neurons from damage.11Siresha Bathina , Undurti N Das, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implicationsArch Med Sci. 2015

Animal studies have also proved that BDNF plays a role in improving cognition.12Magdalena Miranda , Juan Facundo Morici , María Belén Zanoni, Pedro Bekinschtein Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological BrainFront Cell Neurosci. 2019

While further research is needed to confirm these findings, they suggest that BDNF may play a role in developing and treating neuropsychiatric disorders and contribute to the optimal health of the brain in the future, paving the way for new drug development.

BDNF and Brain Aging

Brain aging is when the neurons lose their ability to make synaptic connections.

The process was once thought to be irreversible but now new studies show that neurogenesis is a lifelong process.13Przemysław Kowiański et al, BDNF: A Key Factor with Multipotent Impact on Brain Signaling and Synaptic PlasticityCell Mol Neurobiol. 2018

Specific molecules, including BDNF, also play a role in neurogenesis.

This is how new neurons and new brain cells are generated in the brain.14Veronica Galvan , Kunlin Jin, Neurogenesis in the aging brainClin Interv Aging. 2007

Neurogenesis declines with age, which is thought to contribute to the cognitive decline that occurs during aging.

BDNF also increases brain plasticity and acts as a natural antidepressant.

Simply put, brain plasticity is the ability of the brain cells to rewire after a traumatic brain injury.15Veronica Galvan , Kunlin Jin, Neurogenesis in the aging brainClin Interv Aging. 2007

The effects of BDNF on brain aging are thus thought to be mediated by its impact on neuronal development and survival.

The fact that BDNF levels decline with age has been subjected to extensive research.

In animal studies, BDNF levels decreased with age, associated with impaired memory and learning.16Kirk I Erickson, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is associated with age-related decline in hippocampal volumeJ Neurosci. 2010

Aging and exercise are somehow also related.

As BDNF levels can be increased by exercise, exercise can improve the thinking function in older adults.

Exercise also increases neurogenesis in the brain, which may contribute to exercise’s cognitive benefits.17Sama F Sleiman Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrateElife. 2016

Therefore, increasing BDNF levels through exercise may be a promising approach for reversing or delaying the cognitive decline that occurs with aging.

Brain Repair

Brain repair is essential for survival because any traumatic injury to the brain would otherwise lead to permanent mental impairment.

Many studies show that BDNF is involved in the process of brain repair.18Magdalena Miranda et al, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological BrainFront Cell Neurosci. 2019

In addition, BDNF has been shown to promote the growth of new blood vessels and the regeneration of nerve cells following injury.19Guiting Lin et al, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor promotes nerve regeneration by activating the JAK/STAT pathway in Schwann cellsTransl Androl Urol. 2016

The rise in BDNF associated with exercise has also been shown to improve and increase the number of new neurons in the hippocampus.20Sama F Sleiman et alExercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrateElife. 2016

Therefore, increasing BDNF levels may be an effective strategy for treating neurodegenerative diseases and promoting brain repair.

Can You Measure BDNF Levels?

BDNF levels can be measured using several techniques, including ELISA, qPCR, and western blotting.21Yvonne Naegelin et al Measuring and Validating the Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Human SerumeNeuro. 201822Quézia Silva Anders BDNF mRNA Expression in Leukocytes and Frontal Cortex Function in Drug Use DisorderFront Psychiatry. 2020

ELISA is the most commonly used method, as it is relatively simple and quick to perform.

However, qPCR and western blotting can provide more accurate measurements of BDNF levels.

Regardless of the method used, it is essential to ensure that samples are collected and stored correctly to prevent protein degradation.

BDNF levels can be affected by several factors, including age, diet, exercise, and stress. Therefore, controlling for these variables when measuring BDNF levels is essential.

Best BDNF Supplement

Supplementation is another way to enhance BDNF levels. Below is a short-list of specific products that help in boosting BDNF:

Mind Lab Pro

mind lab pro wet brain

Supplementing with Mind Lab Pro Nootropics can increase healthy BDNF levels.

Certain ingredients in the formula are shown to promote nerve growth, improve cognition, and protect against an age-related decrease in cognitive abilities.

Nootropics like Pine Bark Extract and Bacopa Monnieri increase BDNF levels in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex 23David Vauzour The neuroprotective potential of flavonoids: a multiplicity of effectsGenes Nutr. 200824Ritabrata Banerjee, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25110503/Psychiatry Investig. 2014/mfn] At the same time, Rhodiola Rosea and L-Theanine manipulate BDNF to induce mood balancing effects and can upregulate BDNF gene expression.24Chanoch Miodownik et al, Serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and cortisol to sulfate of dehydroepiandrosterone molar ratio associated with clinical response to L-theanine as augmentation of antipsychotic therapy in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder patientsClin Neuropharmacol. Jul-Aug 201125Enrico Sangiovanni et al, Botanicals as Modulators of Neuroplasticity: Focus on BDNFNeural Plast. 2017

Thus, Mind Lab Pro appears promising for enhancing cognitive function and protecting against age-related decline.

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind Nootropic Stack

Qualia Mind is another preformulated nootropic stack that improves memory and cognition, enhances concentration, fuels focus, encourages mental clarity, and increases your motivation and productivity.

As opposed to Mind Lab Pro’s 11 nootropic ingredients, Qualia includes 28 ingredients including nootropics, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs.

Among these nootropics are three different choline enhancers, along with Uridine Monophosphate, which data suggests are shown to promote BDNF increases.26Jan Johansson et al, Choline up-regulates BDNF and down-regulates TrkB neurotrophin receptor in rat cortical cell cultureNeuroreport. 2009

Qualia Mind has been shown to support neuron and synaptic function, prefrontal cortex activity, neurotransmitter signaling, and acute stress resilience in other studies, all signs of high BDNF activity.27Francesca Calabrese et al Brain-derived neurotrophic factor: a bridge between inflammation and neuroplasticityFront Cell Neurosci. 2014

Magnesium

Magnesium is a necessary cofactor for hundreds, possibly thousands of metabolic and cellular processes in the body.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get adequate levels through diet alone, making it necessary to supplement.

Research suggests magnesium can increase levels of BDNF.28Behnaz Abiri, Effects of vitamin D and/or magnesium supplementation on mood, serum levels of BDNF, inflammatory biomarkers, and SIRT1 in obese women: a study protocol for a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trialTrials. 2020

Results of magnesium supplementation include increased learning capacity, memory, and concentration.

It can also contribute to reducing fatigue symptoms and depressive symptoms.29Behnaz Abiri, Effects of vitamin D and/or magnesium supplementation on mood, serum levels of BDNF, inflammatory biomarkers, and SIRT1 in obese women: a study protocol for a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trialTrials. 2020

Alpha GPC, Citicoline

Alpha GPC is by far the most bioavailable form of choline available today. Choline is a water-soluble nutrient that acts as a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Its capsules are easily absorbed and quickly acting. It supports brain and nerve health and cognitive functions, including memory, learning, and focus.

Studies show that choline does all this by increasing the levels of BDNF in the hippocampus. 30Nupur Nag et al, Postnatal dietary choline supplementation alters behavior in a mouse model of Rett syndromeNeurobiol Dis. 2007

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

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Hericium Erinaceus is one of the most potent nootropic mushrooms for improving cognitive performance

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a potent nootropic mushroom known for boosting nerve growth factor (NGF), memory, and overall cognitive enhancement.

This mushroom can also be used for the immune system, anxiety, depression, nerve repair, and energy levels. These effects are mediated through a compound called N-de phenylethyl isohericerin.

This compound has a BDNF-like effect and promotes the downstream pathway, improving learning and memory. 31Ramón Martínez-Mármol et al Hericerin derivatives from Hericium erinaceus exert BDNF-like neurotrophic activity in central hippocampal neurons and enhance memorybiorxiv. 2020

NAD+ and Precursors ( NMN, NR)

NAD+, also known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is a molecule found in all cells.

It is essential for metabolism and energy production in the form of ATP within mitochondria. Low NAD+ levels are linked to poor cellular function.32Sofie Lautrup et al, NAD + in Brain Aging and Neurodegenerative DisordersCell Metab. 2019

Supplementation with NAD+ levels leads to better sleep and mood.ATP within mitochondria. Low NAD+ levels are linked to poor cellular function.33Sofie Lautrup et al, NAD + in Brain Aging and Neurodegenerative DisordersCell Metab. 2019 NAD+ may also aid in mental focus and anxiety reduction.

This is because experiments have shown that NAD+ supplementation increase BDNF mRNA, the increased translation of which leads to increased protein levels. 34Tyisha Hathorn et al, Nicotinamide improves motor deficits and upregulates PGC-1α and BDNF gene expression in a mouse model of Huntington’s diseaseNeurobiol Dis. 2011

Microbiome Supplements (Probiotics, Prebiotics, Postbiotics, Digestive Enzymes, HCL)

Viome Gut Intelligence

Recent studies have shown that the gut microbiome can influence BDNF levels in the brain and indirectly benefit neural connections.35Reza Ranuh et al, Effect of the probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum IS-10506 on BDNF and 5HT stimulation: role of intestinal microbiota on the gut-brain axisIran J Microbiol. 2019

The mechanisms by which the gut microbiome influences BDNF levels are not fully understood but may involve the production of short-chain fatty acids by gut bacteria or other factors that modulate the activity of BDNF.

There is a bidirectional relationship between the gut microbiome and BDNF levels in the brain.

This is known as the gut-brain axis, where your brain communicates with your gut microbiota.

Supplementation using probiotics and prebiotics enhance beneficial bacteria quantity and quality, which can thus help improve memory and cognitive impairment.

Remember that:
  • Probiotics are gut bacteria supplemented for their excellent properties.
  • Prebiotics are substances that promote the growth of indigenous bacteria.
  • Postbiotics include the short-chain fatty acids and other substances made by the bacteria to help aid gut function and, indirectly, brain function.
  • Digestive enzymes and HCl help digest the food to assimilate nutrients like amino acids and fatty acids into the body and blood.
  • HCl also initiates the breakdown and assimilation of protein BDNF supplements and vitamin B.

Gut Microbiome Can Improve BDNF Levels

One study found that probiotic supplementation increased BDNF levels in the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory.36Wen Tang et al, Roles of Gut Microbiota in the Regulation of Hippocampal Plasticity, Inflammation, and Hippocampus-Dependent BehaviorsFront Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021

Another recent evidence suggests that consuming probiotics may help improve your mood and cognition. 37Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez et al, Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: A Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel SyndromeGastroenterology. 2017

DHA

DHA is necessary for brain health and learning functions. It influences the signaling systems, neurotransmitters, memory, focus, and attention of your brain.

Also, it aids in the prevention and even repair of impaired thinking ability.

Reduction of inflammation in the brain, nerve growth stimulation, and brain cell repair are all influenced by DHA. However, your body does not produce DHA on its own, and you must obtain it through food or a supplement.

Using the DHA in alpha-linolenic acid can increase your BDNF expression and reap these beneficial health effects. 38Mahmoudreza Hadjighassem et al, Oral consumption of α-linolenic acid increases serum BDNF levels in healthy adult humansNutrition Journal. 2015

Uridine Monophosphate

Uridine Monophosphate has been shown to improve learning and memory, increase neuron and synapse density, release dopamine and acetylcholine, and reduce depression.

It modulates all these functions by increasing BDNF, as shown by studies.39Solvejg L Hansen et al, Supplementation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), vitamin D 3 and uridine in combination with six weeks of cognitive and motor training in prepubescent children: a pilot studyBMC Nutr. 2017

As a result, incorporating uridine monophosphate into your nootropic stack can help improve alertness, focus, memory, learning ability, and mood.40Solvejg L Hansen et al, Supplementation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), vitamin D 3 and uridine in combination with six weeks of cognitive and motor training in prepubescent children: a pilot studyBMC Nutr. 2017

Vitamin D

Through detoxification pathways and neurotrophin synthesis, vitamin D3 may protect the structure and integrity of neurons.41Jennifer S Buell , Vitamin D and neurocognitive dysfunction: preventing “D”ecline?Mol Aspects Med. 2008

In experimental studies of brain function, increased BDNF expression has been reported, in addition to Vitamin Ds antioxidant effects.42Hoda Nadimi et al, Effect of vitamin D supplementation on CREB-TrkB-BDNF pathway in the hippocampus of diabetic ratsIran J Basic Med Sci. 2020

Methylated B-Vitamins

B-vitamins are frequently depleted during stress, and elevated homocysteine levels have also been linked to neurotransmitter deficiency. 43Carlos Alberto Calderón-Ospina et al, B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalaminCNS Neurosci Ther. 2020

Clinical research has shown that methylated forms of vitamins B6 and B12 effectively reduce homocysteine, support nervous system function, and contribute to normal cognitive and psychological function. 44Carlos Alberto Calderón-Ospina et al, B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalaminCNS Neurosci Ther. 2020

Vitamin B1 and B12 up-regulate BDNF and its downstream signaling and thus mediate the beneficial effects.45 En-Yao Li et al, Vitamin B1 and B12 mitigates neuron apoptosis in cerebral palsy by augmenting BDNF expression through MALAT1/miR-1 axisCell Cycle. 2019

Microdosing Psychedelics

Acute and chronic administration of various psychedelic compounds to animals has increased BDNF production and neurogenesis. 46 Nadia R P W Hutten, Low Doses of LSD Acutely Increase BDNF Blood Plasma Levels in Healthy Volunteers ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci. 2020

After a single dose of psychedelics, the expression of plasticity-related genes and proteins, including BDNF, changes, resulting in altered neuroplasticity.47 Nadia R P W Hutten, Low Doses of LSD Acutely Increase BDNF Blood Plasma Levels in Healthy Volunteers ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci. 2020

According to Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Ketamines and other psychedelics increase the BDNF, and this BDNF is what repairs the brain by making new synapses.48MAPS, Thrillest: Coming Soon: Prescriptions for LSD and Magic Mushrooms?MAPS. 2016

Best Lifestyle Hacks For Boosting BDNF Levels

Research and data suggest that a lack of brain stimulation, diets high in sugar, chronic stress, and poor food choices can all lead to a decline in brain functions, including memory and learning, and low bdnf.49Isabel López-Taboada et al, Western Diet: Implications for Brain Function and BehaviorFront Psychol. 2020

Fortunately, there are lifestyle choices that can help to boost BDNF levels. These include:

Regular Exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to increase BDNF.

According to research, the most effective physical activity for increasing BDNF levels is intense aerobic exercise.50Matthew T Schmolesky et al, The effects of aerobic exercise intensity and duration on levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy menJ Sports Sci Med. 2013

BDNF may be released during a solid exercise routine from the brain, skeletal muscle, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), vascular endothelial cells, and platelets, according to a 2018 review.51Jeremy J Walsh et al, Exercise and circulating BDNF: Mechanisms of release and implications for the design of exercise interventionsAppl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2018

In short those who exercise regularly will experience higher levels of bdnf.

Sleep:

Getting adequate sleep is essential to boost BDNF levels and all-around positive mental health.

Sleep disturbances lower BDNF levels, and sleep deprivation makes you more vulnerable to stress, which lowers BDNF levels. This can also lead to a higher incidence of mental health problems.52Karen Schmitt et al, BDNF in sleep, insomnia, and sleep deprivationAnn Med. 2016

Getting deep sleep is necessary for a healthy brain and BDNF levels. Deep sleep is when the body naturally produces and releases more BDNF.53Karen Schmitt et al, BDNF in sleep, insomnia, and sleep deprivationAnn Med. 2016

Stress reduction

Stress management is essential because increased stress levels are related to decreased BDNF levels. Therefore using methods to reduce stress may increase BDNF and brain health.54B Vollmayr Brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor (BDNF) stress response in rats bred for learned helplessnessMol Psychiatry. 2001

Sun Light Exposure:

Spending time outside in the sunlight can also stimulate BDNF expression. People with seasonal affective disorder, a form of winter blues, have low levels of BDNF.

Therefore spending time in the sun could be beneficial for brain health.55Marc L Molendijk Serum BDNF concentrations show strong seasonal variation and correlations with the amount of ambient sunlightPLoS One. 2012

Healthy Diet:

Dietary habits greatly influence BDNF levels, as obesity negatively affects BDNF levels and cognitive health.

A healthy diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B-vitamins can also help to increase BDNF levels.

A very low-carb diet may also be beneficial.

By making healthy lifestyle choices, you can help to keep your BDNF levels high and support cognitive health.56Elske Gravesteijn et al, Effects of nutritional interventions on BDNF concentrations in humans: a systematic reviewNutr Neurosci. 2022

Red Light Sauna

Red light sauna use also increases BDNF in the brain.

This is because the red light sauna provides heat and near-infrared light, which boost BDNF production.57Adi Katz et al, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is critically involved in thermal-experience-dependent developmental plasticityJ Neurosci. 200658 Jin-Chul Heo et al, Photobiomodulation (660 nm) therapy reduces oxidative stress and induces BDNF expression in the hippocampusscientific reports. 2019

Thus red light sauna encourages neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells, which is crucial for improving brain function and memory.

Breathing Exercises, Meditation

Breathing exercises and meditation contribute to the increase of peripheral BDNF.

In addition, they also help to control stress.

Learning something new can also increase BDNF.59Patama Gomutbutra et al, The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled TrialsFront Psychol. 2020

Cold Plunge (Cold Exposure)

Exposure to bursts of cold stimulates the body to make BDNF. This was confirmed in an experiment using chicks.60Adi Katz et al, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is critically involved in thermal-experience-dependent developmental plasticityJ Neurosci. 2006

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting (restricting your food intake to a smaller window of time each day rather than grazing from morning to night) lowers the production of inflammatory molecules that lower your BDNF levels.

You can improve your cognitive function by allowing your body to rest and repair rather than working all day to digest food. This fact has been experimentally confirmed.61Basem H Elesawy et al, The Impact of Intermittent Fasting on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Neurotrophin 3, and Rat Behavior in a Rat Model of Type 2 Diabetes MellitusBrain Sci. 2021

Mild Stress:

We put our brains under good stress when challenging our body and brain by regularly exercising, meditating, and learning new things.

This stress increases BDNF levels.

Foods and Diets For Boosting BDNF

Certain nutrients can help increase BDNF levels, protecting against reduced learning and apprehension capacity.

Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B-vitamins are all known to raise BDNF levels.

Therefore, including these nutrients in your diet may help to keep your brain healthy as you age.

High Protein Foods:

Foods rich in protein, including fish, beef, and eggs, can increase BDNF levels.

Fish with fat (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring) also contain DHA, a type of Omega-3 fat responsible for increased BDNF.62Cook, Michelle Schoffro, Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier BrainRodale, 2016

Look for “wild-caught” on the label to get fish with the highest fat content and the least amount of toxins.

Eggs also contain DHA, which has also been linked to higher BDNF levels. 63Cook, Michelle Schoffro, Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier BrainRodale, 2016The eggs with the highest fat content come from pasture-raised chickens.

Fats

Fatty foods are specifically containing omega-3 fatty acids that increase BDNF. Make sure to use original foods. Use only the true extra virgin olive oil.64Cook, Michelle Schoffro, Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier BrainRodale, 2016

Avoid foods with high omega-six fat, such as seed oils, canola oils, and fried foods.

Low Carb Diet:

A very low carb diet or a ketogenic diet combined with regular exercise and intermittent fasting as well as a Paleo Diet raises BDNF levels.65Cook, Michelle Schoffro, Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier BrainRodale, 2016

Begin by incorporating healthy fats such as avocado oil, nut, and seed butter.

Fasting:

Fasting is also a type of stress that causes BDNF secretion to increase. It stimulates a growth factor that mediates changes and allows the brain to adapt to stress.66Siresha Bathina et al, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implicationsArch Med Sci. 2015

The duration of the fasting period, on the other hand, is critical to the timing of its induction.

Polyphenol-rich foods:

Eating blueberries, colorful vegetables, dark chocolate, and cocoa-containing foods are also beneficial and increase BDNF.

Using spices such as turmeric can also increase BDNF levels. All these are excellent polyphenol sources.67Gómez-Pinilla, Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function.Nature reviews. Neuroscience. 2008

Fasting Mimicking Diet:

Using a low-carb diet or a diet mimicking fasting can also increase brain BDNF levels. ProLon fasting-mimicking technology is one way you can do this diet.68Jan Johansson et al, Choline up-regulates BDNF and down-regulates TrkB neurotrophin receptor in rat cortical cell cultureNeuroreport. 2009

It is a 5-day fasting nutrition program that makes your body think it’s in a fasting state, although you get to eat real food.

Conclusion:

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is essential in promoting optimal brain health. Various methods like exercise, meditation, and certain healthy foods like fats and low card diets can raise BDNF levels and thus improve your brain functioning.

Supplementing with Mind Lab Pro, Magnesium, and other supplements can help your neurogenesis and plasticity.

Thus incorporating a healthy lifestyle is crucial to optimal brain performance.

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Author

Erik Abramowitz is a health coach, certified nutritional therapist, and biohacker. He is an advocate for nootropics and believes in using science to improve people's lives. Erik is also a new dad and loves spending time with his son. Before becoming a health coach, Erik was a stand-up comedian. He toured the country and performed at some of the top comedy clubs. But, after getting married and having a child, Erik decided to pursue a more meaningful career path. Now, Erik helps others achieve their health goals through his coaching practice and online programs. He is passionate about helping people feel their best, both physically and mentally.

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