BDNF and Why it’s ‘Miracle Gro’ for the Brain

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I used to hate exercise. But then I found out I’d been doing it wrong all along…

Turns out “exercise” doesn’t have to mean sweating buckets on a treadmill. 

It can be as simple as a 30 minute walk around your block. That’s all it takes to trigger amazing health benefits for your brain.

There two reasons why walks are so healthy:

1) It increases the flow of nutrient rich blood to your brain.

2) It rockets levels of BDNF

What’s BDNF?

BDNF stands for “brain-derived neurotrophic factor”.

BDNF is a protein your brain needs to grow and sustain new neurons. 

Think of it as like fertilizer for growing new brain cells. Or as Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey calls it “Miracle-Gro”.

A lot of brain scientists, including Keri Martinowich, Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins medicine and Gary C. Sieck, Ph.D, from the Mayo Clinic, have hailed BDNF’s discovery as a breakthrough in brain health.

In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, found people who go for 20 minute daily walks have a 48% lower risk of severe memory loss.

While the National Institute on Aging verified that  BDNF can “increase the production of proteins that enhance neuronal plasticity and resistance to oxidative and metabolic insults”. 

Go for Walks and Socialise

One way to boost BDNF is with 30 minute walks.

Another way of boosting BDNF is interacting with other people.

Research by the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Rome Italy, found that nurturing close relationships led to increased levels of BDNF in the brain.

It’s one of the reasons why the 678 nuns in the famous “Nun Study of Aging” sustained such healthy minds. Because the amount of social interaction in their day kept their BDNF levels topped up.

So you see, interacting with people doesn’t just make you happier. Social interaction helps keep your mind strong too. 

On the flipside, when you don’t socialise enough it’s toxic for your mind.

In fact, a study of 12,000 people by Florida State University found people who feel lonely have a 40% higher risk of dementia. 

So if you find yourself spending too much time alone, consider meeting friends for coffee, joining a local book club, or taking up a new social hobbies. 

You’ll feel happier and smarter as a result.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25483019

https://blog.bulletproof.com/8-ways-to-increase-bdnf-and-keep-your-brain-from-aging/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/labs/keri-martinowich-laboratory

https://www.mayo.edu/research/faculty/sieck-gary-c-ph-d/bio-00083569


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