Diet, Exercise, and BDNF

A great deal of contemporary neuroscience research focuses on identifying and developing “neuroprotectant” compounds that help insulate the human brain from the deleterious effects of aging and disease. In this respect, there is substantial interest in compounds that increase the levels of the protein brain derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF.

BDNF is essential for the survival, growth, and differentiation of new neurons and synapses within the brain, particularly to areas involved with learning and mental performance. So it makes sense to target anything that enhances the levels of BDNF in the human brain.

At least within reason…

A group of scientists at the Emory University School of Medicine are working on a compound that mimics BDNF, called 7,8-dihydroxyflavone, in hopes of developing a pharmaceutical product that enhances human brain development and insulates us from the ravages of time. But what I find especially salient about this new potential “wonder drug” is the following:

7,8-dihydroxyflavone is a member of the flavonoid family of chemicals, which are abundant in fruits and vegetables. The compound’s selective effects suggest that it could be the founder of a new class of brain-protecting drugs.

It would seem as if the simple practice of eating less processed foods in favor of more natural state fruits and vegetables would bolster BDNF levels without having to rely on a nicely-packaged chemical agent with unknown long-term effects. And if you combine this with the right physical exercise – which has been proven to raise BDNF levels as well – you might not need an artificial agent to keep you sharp in your later years.

Just a thought…

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  1. […] In a previous post, we discussed how both diet and exercise can enhance levels of BDNF. By adding a fish oil supplement to your daily regimen, you up the ante even higher. […]

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