Toronto Functional Medicine Approach: Why BDNF Matters to Your Brain

If you want an eye-opening health experience, functional medicine from Toronto could provide this – you might even discover that BDNF could help fine-tune your brain health!

What exactly is BDNF? BDNF is a protein created by the human body that’s critical for improving cognition, especially learning and memory. “Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in neuronal survival and growth, serves as a neurotransmitter modulator, and participates in neuronal plasticity, which is essential for learning and memory,” explains an article from the Archives of Medical Science

In simple terms, BDNF supports cellular functioning, and it does so by encouraging the development and protection of cells in the spinal cord and brain. Adequate levels of BDNF can contribute to optimal wellness in various ways, such as alleviating mood swings and depression, improving sleep, and preventing or delaying the onset of age-related chronic conditions. 

Do you feel you need to sharpen your memory or unlock brain fog? Then read the following clinical nutrition and functional medicine tips to help boost your BDNF levels. 

How to increase BDNF levels for optimal health

Augmenting BDNF levels could have beneficial effects on our cognition. This is because “[d]ecreased levels of BDNF are associated with neurodegenerative diseases with neuronal loss, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease,” explain the Archives of Medical Science.

Studies have shown that high amounts of BDNR are linked to improvements in mental health and memory. But it’s important to mention that BDNF levels wane as we age, which could leave us vulnerable to cognitive issues. So understanding how to increase BDNF could help us with supporting long-term health. Here, we’ve compiled some simple ways to increase BDNF at home: 

  • Exercise regularly: Get a gym membership because exercise could support BDNF levels. “Several studies suggest that BDNF levels change rapidly with environmental stimulants such as acute (e.g., 30 min) periods of exercise,” says The Journal of Neuroscience. The release of endorphins also increases BDNF levels, so get moving because exercise releases endorphins, too!
  • Take probiotics: Scientific evidence has shown that probiotics could benefit your gut health and enhance BDNF levels. According to studies, Lactobacillus plantarum IS-10506 and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, which are the good bacteria in your gut, have been shown to increase BDNF.
  • Consider herbal medicine: Functional medicine-practicing health care providers might recommend herbs, such as stress-relieving adaptogens. Ashwagandha, panax ginseng, and bacopa could provide you with mood support while raising BDNF levels.  
  • Consume blueberries: Add blueberries to your diet or try a blueberry extract supplement. Blueberry flavonoids have been shown to augment BDNF levels and assist with memory recovery. 
  • Try whole coffee fruit concentrate: Consider supplementing with encapsulated coffee fruit concentrate. As an extract from coffee cherries, it’s rich in chlorogenic acid (CGA), a biologically active polyphenol that contains antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. Whole coffee fruit concentrate has been shown to  increase BDNF levels, too. 

What can you personally do to increase BDNF? Let’s discover the root cause of your current symptoms and help augment BDNF to improve cognition. 

Contact us for help boosting your brain health 

At the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre, we take pride in our compassionate care for patients. We proudly empower patients to take control of their own health! Our integrative and functional medicine treatments include Eastern and Western medicine, as well as IV therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, and other modalities. For example, we also look into thyroid health in relation to weight loss management.

As functional medicine practitioners, every patient is treated as a disparate entity with individual symptoms, lifestyle factors and environmental factors. Our collaborative approaches to treatment can be tailored for a wide range of concerns, including chronic conditions, acute health issues, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, postmenopausal health, unexplained weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies.

Discover new ways to recover your cognition today! Our clinical practice is available to customize your treatment plan for long-term health. Call (416) 968-6961 to book your appointment for functional medicine in Toronto.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.

 

References:

Azman KF, Zakaria R. Recent Advances on the Role of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jun 19;23(12):6827. doi: 10.3390/ijms23126827. PMID: 35743271; PMCID: PMC9224343.

Bathina S, Das UN. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implications. Arch Med Sci. 2015 Dec 10;11(6):1164-78. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2015.56342. Epub 2015 Dec 11. PMID: 26788077; PMCID: PMC4697050.

Erickson KI, Prakash RS, Voss MW, Chaddock L, Heo S, McLaren M, Pence BD, Martin SA, Vieira VJ, Woods JA, McAuley E, Kramer AF. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is associated with age-related decline in hippocampal volume. J Neurosci. 2010 Apr 14;30(15):5368-75. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6251-09.2010. PMID: 20392958; PMCID: PMC3069644.

Jiao, SS., Shen, LL., Zhu, C. et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor protects against tau-related neurodegeneration of Alzheimer’s disease. Transl Psychiatry 6, e907 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2016.186

Miranda M, Morici JF, Zanoni MB, Bekinschtein P. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological Brain. Front Cell Neurosci. 2019 Aug 7;13:363. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2019.00363. PMID: 31440144; PMCID: PMC6692714.

Nolan, J., Krishna, G., Ying, Z., Gomez-Pinilla, F., Blueberry Supplementation Mitigates Altered Brain Plasticity and Behavior after Traumatic Brain Injury in Rats. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2019, 63, 1801055. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201801055

Orlando A, Chimienti G, Lezza AMS, Pesce V, Gigante I, D’Attoma B, Russo F. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG Affects the BDNF System in Brain Samples of Wistar Rats with Pepsin-Trypsin-Digested Gliadin (PTG)-Induced Enteropathy. Nutrients. 2020 Feb 27;12(3):629. doi: 10.3390/nu12030629. PMID: 32120967; PMCID: PMC7146293.

Ranuh R, Athiyyah AF, Darma A, Risky VP, Riawan W, Surono IS, Sudarmo SM. Effect of the probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum IS-10506 on BDNF and 5HT stimulation: role of intestinal microbiota on the gut-brain axis. Iran J Microbiol. 2019 Apr;11(2):145-150. PMID: 31341569; PMCID: PMC6635314.

Sangiovanni E, Brivio P, Dell’Agli M, Calabrese F. Botanicals as Modulators of Neuroplasticity: Focus on BDNF. Neural Plast. 2017;2017:5965371. doi: 10.1155/2017/5965371. Epub 2017 Dec 31. PMID: 29464125; PMCID: PMC5804326.

The Link Between BDNF and Neuroplasticity” by Samoon Ahmad M.D. for Psychology Today, posted on January 10, 2020, viewed on July 13, 2022. 

Tania Reyes, Ruby Argumedo, Cynthia Shu. Boris Nemzer, Zb Pietrzkowski; Stimulatory Effect of Whole Coffee Fruit Concentrate Powder on Plasma Levels of Total and Exosomal Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Healthy Subjects: An Acute Within-Subject; Food and Nutrition Sciences 4(09):984-990; Clinical Study; January 2013. DOI:10.4236/fns.2013.49127

Zhang H, Torregrossa MM, Jutkiewicz EM, Shi YG, Rice KC, Woods JH, Watson SJ, Ko MC. Endogenous opioids upregulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA through delta- and micro-opioid receptors independent of antidepressant-like effects. Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Feb;23(4):984-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.04621.x. PMID: 16519663; PMCID: PMC1462954.