Have You Ever Heard the term Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)?
The brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a gene that provides instructions for making a protein found in the brain and spinal cord. This protein promotes the survival of nerve cells (neurons) by playing a role in the growth, maturation (differentiation), and maintenance of these cells.
The BDNF is vital to our survival, growth, and maintenance of neurons in key brain circuits involved in emotional and cognitive function. If we do not do it right, the tendency to develop mood swings, depression and memory challenges are higher.
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Why It’s Important to measure BDNF?
Apparently, studies are showing a direct correlation between a low serum of BDNF in Alzheimer’s patients, depression, and bipolar disorder. So obviously the next question here is- if we could measure it early in time and take the right nutritional steps head of time would we be able to slow down any potential brain cell damage, cognitive and memory decline and other thinking and functional skills.
Alzheimer’s disease is growing. It is a fact that more than 10% of people aged 65 and over are facing it. More women than man, more African Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians.
Depression and bipolar should not be ignored as well the numbers growing in a rapid rate. In 2019 only in the US the annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition: Major Depressive Episode: 8.4% (21 million people) Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people) bipolar disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people).
How does Synaptic Plasticity correlate with BDNF?
A normal rate of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) leads to normal neuronal development and synaptic plasticity. Insufficient production of BDNF limits the growth and differentiation (maturation) of new nerve cells and lowers the ability of nerve cells to connect with each other and transmit information. Consequences include impairment of memory formation and degeneration of other brain function.
Age related changes like inflammation, vascular damage, increases of free radicals, mitochondrial dysfunction and antibodies productions can also trigger neurological leading to low BDNF.
A Connection between Estrogen Changes, Cortisol & Lower BDNF
Whether we like it or not, there is an indirect correlation between estranged changes during pre-menopause and menopausal & normal self-production of BDNF which affect formation of new memories and transferring short-term to long term memory. Balanced estrogen and androgens can keep the synaptic plasticity and keep memory strong.
This is true also for an excess of the stress hormone, cortisol. Higher cortisol production will lower your BDNF levels affecting memory, cognitive function, and mood disorders.
What can you Do?
BDNF is crucial for the maintenance of healthy memory and mood disorders. Nutrition, metabolism, behavior, and stress affect the expression of this protein.
Be sure to test your BDNF levels along with sex hormones. That can give you a better picture of how to support your brain health. For more information about this test you can book your 20m free consultation with us.
Prioritize taking good care of your brain and doing everything possible to increase BDNF levels should be a standard care especially among individuals that one family member at least suffered for Alzheimer, dementia, depression or bipolar.
To summarize, my best suggestions to maintain healthy BDNF are:
- Reduce inflammation
- Control Stress and other hormones
- Reduce risks for metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure)
- Exercise Regularly: brain exercises, and physical exercises
- Prioritize Your Social Connections
- Get outside and enjoy sun & fresh air
- Consume a high-protein diet, greens, and healthy fats
- Restrict Carbohydrate Intake
- Avoid processed foods and refined sugar
- Get Plenty of sleep