BDNF. It isn’t a kinky fetish – wrong acronym. BDNF stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It is a protein that is encoded in the BDNF gene. This gene is vital for the brain.
What is BNDF?
BDNF is a neurotrophin that promotes the survival of your nerve cells, also known as neurons. Growth factors, maturation, and maintenance of these cells can all thank the BDNF gene expression for its hard work.
BDNF is super essential for your brain. This protein works on the connections between nerve cells known as synapses. This is where cell-to-cell communication takes place. You can think of these synaptic transmissions as circuits in the brain.
I can’t stress enough how important this is! BDNF levels have been linked to improved mental health, and our brain health is more important than people realize or even care to think about.
The formation of synapses helps to shape who we are as people. The synapses can change over time and can adapt to different experiences you encounter. The name for this is synaptic plasticity. BDNF helps regulate synaptic plasticity, which means how you learn and how well your memory works is tied to the BDNF in your system.
These signaling pathways are impacted by the life choices we make. What we eat, how active we are, and how we respond to the stresses and possible traumas life brings us all play a role in our BDNF levels. This shapes our cognitive state and can contribute to a decline in how well we learn and how well our memories work.
Does coffee increase BDNF?
Studies have shown that coffee can help increase BDNF levels. What?! Crazy, I know. Coffee is king.
John Hopkins University did a study in 2014 in Nature Neuroscience. The study found that having caffeine after learning new information improved the retention of that information for long-term memory.
The long-term memory was able to hold on to the more recent information better!
This scientific review takes a deep dive into BDNF. Activity-induced changes to the central nervous system play a role in adapting to experiences that help shape our behavior, learn, and remember things. This study’s behavioral evidence revealed that BDNF impacts the “acquisition, consolidation, and subsequent recall of information.”
Again, this points to BDNF improving brain function regarding learning and memory. More BDNF = better learning and better memory.
According to the Nature Neuroscience study previously mentioned, the ideal sweet spot of coffee bean goodness for BDNF is around 200mg. This translates to about what you would find in a regular size cup of coffee – give or take.
What is coffee fruit extract?
Coffee fruit extract can also help increase BDNF levels. In another study, it was found that coffee fruit extract helps to increase BDNF levels in plasma.
Plasma is the yellowish liquid part of blood that transports cells and protein throughout the body. It makes up about 55% of the body. That’s a lot!
Coffee fruit extract comes from the same plant as the coffee bean. The coffee fruit is typically tossed during the coffee-making process. It’s been recently found that coffee fruit has many goodies packed away in it along with regular coffee. Not only does coffee fruit extract contain caffeine, but it also has antioxidants.
5 Ways to Increase BDNF Levels!
Listed below are five ways to increase BDNF levels. It is a simple list you can reference to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep this critical protein working well into your golden years.
Neuroplasticity is the name of the game!
- Coffee fruit extract/concentrate (can provide a significant increase in BDNF)
- green tea
- red grapes
- dark chocolate (yum!)
- fatty fish
- coffee (of course!)
- turmeric, soy
- olive oil
- orange juice
- red wine (fantastic!)
- fruits, and vegetables with quercetin (excellent antioxidant as well!)
- zinc, L-theanine, and magnesium
- The sun is our friend! It turns out that BDNF levels rise and fall with the changing seasons. It stands to reason that these levels are higher during the summertime. During the fall and winter, not so much. Get outside. 10 minutes a day will do. A quick walk with the family or the dog can make all the difference.
Stress and Sleep
- If we’re stressed, we tend to not sleep so well or sleep too much. Deep sleep is incredibly vital for allowing your body to not only rest but also repair. Getting the proper amount of sleep really ups your body’s BDNF producing power!
- Dealing with stress is an ongoing challenge for everyone. Stress reduces BDNF levels. That is why it is necessary to incorporate some type of personal practice that can allow you to deal with stress. If you are better able to deal with stress, then your BDNF production will improve. Try the following:
- It has been found that any form of exercise that increases your heart rate can help improve those BDNF levels! Exercised induced BDNF production is a thing! Increasing BDNF levels and cardio exercises go hand in hand. Regular exercise can also help reduce stress, which is another way to get better BDNF.
Reverse Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent fasting has been found to help raise BDNF levels. The act of shortening up the eating window reduces the production of inflammatory molecules that lower your BDNF levels. This aids in the repair of your body and increases your cognitive function.
- Check out this article for reverse intermittent fasting. By now, you should know how I feel about fasting. Changing the fasting window to fit our natural circadian rhythm is where you’ll benefit the most. RIF is the way to go!
Top 5 Supplements for BDNF in 2020
Here are my top 5 rated BDNF supplements for 2020. These products have ingredients that are known to promote BDNF levels.
Number 5: Neuro Coffee
This is a decent choice to start with. People have agreed the overall taste is relatively good. Some have stated it tastes too much like regular coffee or isn’t strong enough and more akin to a medium brew. The downside is it only has two main ingredients.
- Contains NeuroFactor ™ Coffee Arabica (Whole Fruit) Extract
- Ups BDNF levels 143%
- Contains Caffeine
Number 4: NeuroMaster
This supplement comes in pill form. Overall, people have attested to having positive experiences. Some reviews stated having experienced a crash, like when coming down from an energy drink. Others reported having an upset stomach from taking the pills. The downside is if you don’t like taking pills, this could be a chore, and liquids do metabolize better in the human body.
- Contains NeuroFactor™ whole coffee fruit extract
- Coffeeberry ® energy coffee fruit extract
Number 3: Genius Mushrooms
There are significant benefits to what is found in mushrooms. This supplement has a decent track record. The downside, again, is the pill form. A lot of people have not done so well with the pill specifically. When taking the supplement, customers have reported headaches and upset stomachs.
- Contains Phosphatidylserine
- Contains Huperzine A
- Lions Mane
- Reishi Mushroom Extract
- Cordyceps Sinensis
Number 2: Qualia Mind
This is another supplement that has been around with a decent history. There are a lot of positive reviews out there. However, there is a small segment of people that have tried this product to no avail. Many reports indicate no changes after taking the product for several months. It is also in pill form, which can be cumbersome.
- Vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B12, and C, D
- Bacopa Monnieri,
- Rhodiola Rosea,
- Mucuna Pruriens
- Cognizin ® Citicoline
- Contain Phosphatidylserine
Number 1: Strong Coffee Company BLACK.
Hands down, Strong Coffee Company has a fantastic product. If you like coffee, this product is the real deal. This mix is effortless to use. There are no hard to swallow pills, limited ingredients, or additional regiments required for Strong Coffee BLACK to do as intended. You simply mix it with hot water and enjoy. It has a great smell, great taste, and is guaranteed to increase your BDNF levels. And as we know, liquids metabolize better in your body. This product will help boost your brainpower so that you can conquer the day!
- Contains Caffeine
- Ups BDNF levels 143%
- Freeze Dried Arabica Coffee
- MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides)
- NeuroFactor ™ Organic Coffee Arabica Extract
- KSM-66 ® Organic Ashwagandha Root Extract
- Natural Caffeine Anhydrous (from Coffee Bean)
BDNF. Still not a kinky fetish, but incredibly important, nonetheless. If you do your best to make the following lifestyle improvements, your brain will thank you! More importantly, it will remember to thank you for a very long time!
- Incorporate items into your diet that are BDNF friendly. Healthy eating goes a long way.
- Get plenty of meaningful rest and sleep. Reduce stress in your life. (Massages are pretty awesome!
- Reverse intermittent fasting. RIF! RIF is fasting done right and will undoubtedly help to up the BDNF and improve brain function.
- Get some sun! It’s not about getting that deep tan but exposing yourself to sunlight. A little goes a long way. 10 minutes a day!
- Cardio type routines help get that heart rate up. This gets that blood flowing through the body, which is a great way to transport that BDNF protein.
- Supplementation when appropriate. Find a product that makes sense for you. Consult with your doctor, and make informed, educated choices.