Do you know how you make memories?
Whenever you do or learn something, your brain starts to rewire itself to make pathways back to that memory.
To do this, tiny genes in your brain that are like little pieces of computer code turn on production of a growth factor called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.1
BDNF then recruits certain proteins that help you establish and retain those memories.
In other words, BDNF gives you neuroplacticity. That’s that adaptability your brain has that makes you able tolearn new things on the fly, adapt to new situations, rise to a challenge and grow as a person.
BDNF also makes your brain cells survive longer and gives them a better ability to learn. And you get a memory boost on top of that.
If it seems like it would be a good idea to try to get your brain to increase its BDNF, you’d be right.
So how do you do this?
There are two easy ways. One is free, and you can do it any time you want and I’ll tell you about it in a little bit.
The other way to increase BDNF is by taking a simple nutrient called acetyl l-carnitine (ALC).
How does it work?
Well, we’ve known for a long time that ALC gives your brain a boost. But it wasn’t until recently that scientists made the connection as to why.
They’ve found that the memory-booster in your brain that ALC increases2 is none other than the tiny gene with the code that turns on BDNF!
So by taking ALC, you enhance your brain’s ability to learn, make new memories and retain the ones you have for longer. ALC is available as a supplement and the doses are usually from 250-1000 mg. Start with 1000 mg a day and see if it makes your mind sharper.
To increase ALC’s effectiveness on your mood, memory and brainpower, take 250 mg a day of alpha lipoic acid and 50 mg of ubiquinol CoQ10.
The free and easy way I mentioned that reliably boosts BDNF is exercise.
The problem is you can’t just do any activity.
In a brand new study that hasn’t even been published yet, researchers at the Department of Sports Medicine at Goethe University in Germany looked at how exercise boosts BDNF in both men and women. They found that only high intensity exercise boosted BDNF. And you need to exert yourself for at least 20 minutes to get the boost.3
So if you want a better brain that last longer, works faster and remembers better, make sure you run a little harder, swim faster, lift a bit more weight or pedal a little harder to get the BDNF boost.
1 Yu-Wen A. Huang, Claudia R. Ruiz, Elizabeth C.H. Eyler, Kathie Lin, Mollie K. Meffert. Dual Regulation of miRNA Biogenesis Generates Target Specificity in Neurotrophin-Induced Protein Synthesis. Cell, 2012; 148 (5)
2 Michael G, et. al. “Nerve Growth Factor Treatment Increases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Selectively in TrkA-Expressing Dorsal Root Ganglion Cells and in Their Central Terminations within the Spinal Cord.” Journal of Neuroscience, November 1997, 17(21): 8476-8490.
3 Schmidt-Kassow M, Schädle S, Otterbein S, Thiel C, Doehring A, Lötsch J, Kaiser J. “Kinetics of serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor following low-intensity versus high-intensity exercise in men and women.” Neuroreport. 2012 Oct 24;23(15):889-93.
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