Boosting cognition with BDNF

Thinking about thinking well

Boosting cognition with BDNF

Thinking is an essential aspect of our daily life, and we all want to utilise our brains and their capabilities to their fullest. But how can we maximise our cognitive potential? The key lies in understanding our own cognition and nurturing its abilities. This understanding can improve our thinking ability, allowing us to make better decisions and have a wittier brain.

At the core of this is BDNF, a protein that controls the survival, development, and function of neurons in the brain. BDNF also helps control the development of neurons, boosting our brainpower and ability to form new connections around the new ideas we are learning.

Here are some ways you can improve cognition and increase your BDNF levels:

  1. Physical activity: Endurance exercises like running or cycling increase BDNF levels by 200-300% initially, while regular exercise increases resting BDNF levels over an extended period. Exercise has also been shown to prevent cognitive decline over the years.
  2. Meditation and mindfulness: Mindfulness strengthens your attention and working memory and increases BDNF levels in the brain.
  3. Good sleeping habits: BDNF is released in the deepest stages of sleep (stage 3 & 4). It is important to aim to sleep for 7 hours a day and have regular sleeping patterns.
  4. Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase BDNF levels, among other benefits such as heart health and hormone balance. Fasting for 16 hours overnight and having an 8-hour eating window is a good way to introduce this into your day.

In addition, avoiding long-term stress, sugar, and processed foods can increase your BDNF levels. These factors have been shown to decrease the expression of BDNF in the brain.

In summary, to get the most out of your brain power, you should focus on aerobic and anaerobic exercise, meditation, good sleeping habits, and experimenting with intermittent fasting. By understanding the role of BDNF in our cognitive process, we can improve our thinking ability and lead a more fulfilling life.

Studies show that higher levels of BDNF are associated with better cognitive function and memory, and lower levels are associated with cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. So, get moving, meditate, and fast intermittently to give your brain the boost it deserves.

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  2. Hori, H., Ozeki, M., Terada, S., & Kunugi, H. (2018). The effects of mindfulness meditation on BDNF: a meta-analysis. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 72(8), 542-551.
  3. Ma, Q. (2018). Beneficial effects of moderate voluntary physical exercise and its biological mechanisms on brain health. Neuroscience bulletin, 34(2), 347-355.
  4. Mattson, M. P., & Wan, R. (2005). Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 16(3), 129-137.
  5. Molendijk, M. L., Haffmans, J. P., Bus, B. A., Spinhoven, P., Penninx, B. W., & Prickaerts, J. (2012). Serum BDNF concentrations as peripheral manifestations of depression: evidence from a systematic review and meta-analyses on 179 associations (N= 9484