Years ago, there was a central theory that the human brain was set and could not grow or regenerate new nerve cells. Today, we now know that the human brain has an amazing amount of “plasticity” – meaning it has the ability to change, grow and renew itself when given the right environment.
What is “BDNF?” This stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, an important brain hormone located in the hippocampus. BDNF works to strengthen brain cells and increase their overall ability to survive, it enhances the ability of brain cells to communicate to each other, it supports the health of synapses, and it supports the growth of new brain cells. This is exciting news! But this raises the question: How do you increase BDNF in the brain and support the overall health of the brain to lower the risk of dementia?
There are a few key ways to increase the body’s production of BDNF:
- Movement/exercise: Specifically, aerobic exercise at 3-5 times a week has been shown to increase levels of BDNF in the brain. Any movement, though, is important for focus, clarity of thinking, immune health and more. Whatever movement looks like to you, I encourage you to daily do some type of movement.
- Fasting/calorie restriction: reducing overall intake of calories has been shown to increase healthy hormones in the brain, including BDNF. This may be an overall calorie reduction, overnight fasting, the 5/2 fasting, or others. There are a number of types of fasting, I encourage you to find one that works for your lifestyle and stick with it. For me, I prefer overnight fasting, were I go 12+ hours without eating (6 pm to 6 am or longer).
- EPA/DHA: The brain is made up of about 65% EPA/DHA – these are essential omega 3 fats for the brain (as well as your eyes, heart, hair, skin and more!) Taking a minimum of 1 gram/day of EPA/DHA supports the overall health of your brain and gives it the fats it needs to thrive!
So, what is stopping you? Get moving, incorporate some type of fasting, and make sure you are taking around 1-gram EPA/DHA oils each day!
If you would like help, contact Dr. Georgia Nab: .