8 Ways to improve BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor)


BDNF is a powerful protein that promotes the creation of new brain cells and strengthens old ones, it a key player in the brains plasticity. The brains ability to constantly learn new skills, adopt new personality traits and adapt to new environments all stems from this protein. Deficiency in it is seen as a major precursor to diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of neurodegeneration as well as forms of depression and mental illness. Needless to say, it’s pretty important and increasing it goes a long way to keeping your mind sharp. BDNF literally flips a switch to upregulate genes in charge of growing new brain cells and pathways. Increasing levels of BDNF will improve learning speed, memory and adaptability.

Here are a few ways to improve BDNF and create a brain worthy of a superhuman  


Exercise has shown to improve BDNF but not all exercise is equal on this one, strength training will only give you a short boost post-workout for example. The most powerful is long-distance exercise which can increase BDNF by 200-300% but I prefer morning cardio as it has other qualities as well. Morning cardio will improve energy levels, BDNF production, long term memory creation and bowel movements.  


You will naturally release more BDNF at night during deep sleep then you will in the day so anything to get you into a deeper better sleep will improve this.  

My top tips for this would be to turn off your wifi router at night and remove any devices that create microwave or radio wave emissions from your bedroom while you sleep as it will disrupt your sleep and prevent you getting into that deep phase where all the good stuff happens  

Blackout the room so you’re in complete darkness while you sleep  

When then sun goes down make sure you avoid artificial light cover your skin as much as possible and wear blue light blocking glasses as light at night will decrease melatonin production which is vital for deep sleep.  


Meditation not only decreases stress which kills BDNF but it also aids in the growth of areas of the brain linked to pleasure, memory and emotional control. This combo leads to increased BDNF too.  


Psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms have shown to increase BDNF when taken due to the effect they have on connecting areas of the brain that normally wouldn’t communicate. This strategy has also been used with some great effects on depression and PTSD suffers as well as some of the modern-day Silicon Valley using micro-dosing of these drugs to improve cognitive function.  


Controlled hypoxia actually will cause a list of benefits one of them being an increase in BDNF, you can use various breathing exercises or even try your hand at free diving or face dunks (sticking your face in cold water and holding your breath) to get some added benefit of the mammalian dive reflex.  


Saunas can induce a stress response to manage your body temperature that stimulates an increase in BDNF. Practising your cardio in heat also has shown to improve the release of BDFN further, so hot yoga anyone.  

Cold thermogenesis  

Maintaining your body temperature or rebalancing the system in any way needs plasticity, so just like saunas and hypoxia, this will induce an increased release of BDNF, as well as a huge host of other benefits.  


If you didn’t know how you do, sunlight is good for you, get out and get more! Sunlight will increase BDNF but for me that’s one of its least important roles as it sits behind things like vitamin D creation and the control of our circadian rhythm, not to mention our Vitamin A cycle. Sunlight literally dictates health and if you hide from it in the shade or under creams you are depriving yourself of its superpower giving energy, manage your time in it, respect it but get in it.



Health and Wellness Consultant


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