Momentum in the Mountains 2024


How to Regrow Your Brain with Intermittent Fasting

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/28/2024

Boosting levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a critical step toward optimal brain health, but most people are at a loss when trying to figure out how to accomplish this.

Learn about the importance of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and how you can increase its production for improved cognitive function and overall mental well-being.

The Power of Intermittent Fasting for Brain Health

Intermittent fasting, which switches between times of consuming and not eating, has been connected to numerous advantages for well-being.

One such advantage is its significant impact on brain health via the process known as neurogenesis, which is the production of new neurons.

This shift in metabolic dynamics leads to increased levels of BDNF, a protein associated with better memory function, improved mood regulation, enhanced sleep patterns, and overall cognitive performance.

Nurturing Your Mind through Neurogenesis

The procedure for creating new nerve cells within our brains is called neurogenesis. This mechanism is essential in maintaining optimal mental functions like learning capacity and memory retention.

A study reveals that intermittent fasting enhances this process, improving these areas. The increase holds potential therapeutic value for neurological disorders where neuron loss occurs frequently, such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease.

Fueling Your Cerebral Functions with BDNF

In matters concerning brain wellness, BDNF assumes critical importance. As we advance into older age brackets, reduced BDNF gene expression can lead to various psychological issues, including depression.

However, by adopting practices like intermittent fasting, we can naturally increase BDNF, enhancing cerebral functionality.

Better yet, high amounts of this protein help protect existing brain cells and promote the growth of newer ones.

Therefore, regular bouts of controlled food deprivation could be one way individuals might aim to achieve the high BDNF levels necessary for optimum cerebral functioning.

Boosting BDNF Levels for Better Brain Health Naturally

BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is essential for maintaining and functioning our neurons and aiding in the growth and differentiation of new ones.

Additionally, high BDNF levels are linked with improved memory functions and overall cognitive performance due to its ability to enhance neural plasticity - our brains' capacity for change over time.

Low BDNF or reduced BDNF gene expression can be linked to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, thus demonstrating its importance in maintaining healthy cognitive functioning.

Natural Antidepressant: The Role of BDNF

In addition to its role in neuron development and maintenance, BDNF also acts like a natural antidepressant within our brains. Higher BDNF levels have been observed among individuals who show fewer symptoms related to depression and anxiety.

This happens because when we experience stressful situations, there may be decreases in certain areas' activity within our brains, which could lead to depressive states if left unchecked.

In response, though, increased production of this vital protein has been seen helping repair any potential harm done by life stresses on mind structures before they become problematic.

The Power of Exercise in Boosting BDNF Levels

Apart from mental health benefits alone, physical exercise is another powerful trigger for boosting BDNF production naturally.

Regular aerobic activities like running and cycling increase BDNF gene expression and release circulation throughout body tissues, benefitting neuronal survival and regeneration.

Human brain illustration

Boosting BDNF Levels for Better Brain Health Naturally

Explore the power of intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, and vital nutrients today.

Activating the Boost of BDNF Levels

The human body houses several triggers that can amplify BDNF levels. Among these powerful catalysts is intermittent fasting - an influential practice with profound implications for brain health.

Other potential activators include dietary modifications such as lowering sugar intake and embracing a ketogenic diet, supplementing with niacin (vitamin B3), engaging in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), along with vitamin D and DHA consumption.

Diet's Impact on Amplifying BDNF Levels

Our daily diet is a pivotal player in escalating BDNF expression to increase brain plasticity. Decreasing sugar intake aids in controlling insulin resistance while curbing inflammation and oxidative stress - all known culprits behind reduced BDNF gene expression.

In contrast, adopting a ketogenic diet, characterized by low carbohydrates but rich in healthy fats, can stimulate the production of this vital protein.

The state of ketosis achieved through this regimen encourages your brain to release more BDNF, thereby promoting neurogenesis - essentially helping protect your brain cells from damage or death due to harmful stimuli like oxidative stress.

Exercise: A Powerful Catalyst for Elevating BDNF Levels

Beyond nutritional changes lies another potent avenue impacting our BDNF levels significantly in physical activity. High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) particularly shines here because it promotes higher BDNF levels and bolsters overall cognitive function.

A study published by the Journal Of Applied Physiology reveals HIIT leads to acute increases in circulating BDNF concentration thanks to its influence on skeletal muscle adaptation, ultimately resulting in enhanced cognitive functions.

The Connection Between Intermittent Fasting and Ketogenic Diet

Intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet are two potent practices that can significantly boost BDNF levels. Both strategies promote metabolic flexibility, which is crucial for optimal brain health.

During intermittent fasting, your body exhausts its glucose stores during fasting, leading to a shift in energy utilization from glucose to fats - a state known as ketosis. This process results in an increase of ketones within your bloodstream.

Ketones serve as an alternative fuel source and possess neuroprotective properties.

Specifically, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), one type of ketone produced by our bodies under conditions such as intermittent fasting or following a ketogenic diet, has been shown to increase the production of BDNF.

Thus, it's evident how intermittent fasting indirectly boosts higher BDNF levels by promoting fat metabolism.

Symbiotic Effectiveness: The Keto Diet & Intermittent Fasting

A keto diet enhances the effects of intermittent fasting by maintaining high blood-ketone concentrations even outside periods of food deprivation.

Consuming low-carb meals rich in healthy fats helps your body to become more efficient at burning stored fat for energy when required.

As you adopt this dietary lifestyle and regular bouts of intermittent fasting, there's a faster transition towards utilizing fatty acids over carbohydrates, thus ensuring the sustained elevation of BDNF expression and helping maintain robust cognitive function.

Broadening Horizons: Beyond Cognitive Enhancement

Alongside increasing BDNF gene expression and potentially improving mental acuity, combining these two nutritional interventions may yield additional benefits like weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and inflammation reduction.

However, always remember individual responses vary greatly, hence the importance of consulting a healthcare professional before making drastic dietary changes, especially for those suffering from chronic conditions or taking medication.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) - A Key Player in Boosting Brain Health

Regarding brain health, Niacin or Vitamin B3 plays a significant role. It is instrumental in increasing BDNF levels and improving cognitive function.

The importance of niacin lies in its contribution towards energy production from food and cell repair and growth. Its ability to naturally increase BDNF levels and promote healthy brain functioning is noteworthy.

A research project has demonstrated that increasing one's niacin intake can increase BDNF production, thus boosting memory and reducing the deterioration of cognitive ability related to aging or conditions like Alzheimer's.

Daily Intake Recommendations for Niacin

The recommended daily intake varies depending on age, sex, and pregnancy status. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for adults aged 19 years and older, men should aim for 16 mg/day, whereas women need around 14 mg/day.

Pregnant women require slightly more at approximately 18 mg/day, and lactating mothers are advised about 17 mg/day.

Before making any changes to your dietary supplement consumption, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider.

Natural Food Sources Rich In Niacin

You don't necessarily need supplements alone to meet your body's requirement for niacin. Plenty of natural sources are available, too.

Foods rich in this nutrient include lean meats such as chicken breast, turkey thigh, and certain types of fish like tuna and salmon. These provide high-quality mood-boosting nutrients besides niacin itself.

Vitamin D & DHA - Vital Nutrients for Optimal Brain Health

Vitamin D and DHA are integral to maintaining optimal brain health. These essential nutrients are pivotal in promoting neurogenesis and enhancing BDNF levels.

Woman feeling energized

Role of Sun Exposure & Seafood Consumption

Sunlight serves as our primary source of vitamin D, initiating its production within our bodies upon exposure. Research links deficiency in this vital nutrient to lower BDNF levels, underscoring the importance of regular sun exposure for optimal brain health.

DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid mainly found in fish like salmon and mackerel, is essential for preserving brain structure and functionality. It plays a critical part by preserving structure and functionality within your brain, at around 25% of the fat content, which is comprised solely of DHA.

Studies have indicated that foods rich in omega-3s can increase BDNF expression, thus safeguarding neurons against damage.

  1. Incorporate more sunshine into your daily routine alongside a diet enriched with oily fish or high-quality mood-boosting supplements if required.

  2. Maintain an adequate consumption level, ensuring neither excessive nor deficient intake occurs.

  3. Prioritize natural sources over artificial ones wherever possible since they are typically easier to absorb and utilize in the body, maximizing the benefits of these nutrients.

Boosting BDNF Levels for Better Brain Health Naturally

Explore the power of intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, and vital nutrients today.

Practical Guide to Implementing Intermittent Fasting for Brain Health

The profound impact of intermittent fasting on brain health, especially in increasing BDNF levels naturally, is well-documented. Here's a practical guide to help you incorporate this beneficial practice into your lifestyle.

1. Choose the Right Method

Finding an intermittent fasting method that aligns with your routine and physical needs is crucial for success.

Popular methods include the 16/8 technique (fasting for 16 hours followed by an eating window of eight), Eat-Stop-Eat (a 24-hour fast once or twice weekly, or the One Meal a Day (OMAD) fast.

Maintaining nutrient-rich food consumption during feeding windows remains vital, as poor nutrition can decrease BDNF levels. Research shows a high-sugar diet could lead to reduced BNDF expression.

2. Start Slowly and Safely

Begin with shorter periods of fasting and gradually extend them as your body adjusts to intermittent fasting.

  1. Prioritize Hydration - Ensure adequate water intake throughout the eating and fasting phases.

  2. Maintain Electrolyte Balance - Consuming foods rich in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium helps avoid fatigue or dizziness.

  3. Tune Into Your Body - Listen carefully to how your body responds; if negative symptoms persist despite proper hydration and balanced electrolytes, consider seeking professional advice before continuing these practices.


Boosting levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is crucial for optimal brain health, and incorporating practices like intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, and essential nutrients can naturally enhance its production.

These strategies improve cognitive function, protect against neurological disorders, and promote overall mental well-being.

By understanding the science behind BDNF and implementing practical techniques to increase its levels, individuals can unlock the full potential of their brain health and lead fulfilling lives.

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