BDNF : Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor

BDNF is fertiliser for the brain and fuels nerve transmission.


Important in sports performance and recovery

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BDFN protein form and function

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BDNF is a protein

BDNF is responsible for the survival and growth of neurons.


Offering neuronal plasticity for improved skill acquisition, fast track new pathways to speed reactions and develop teh so called muscle memory.

Increased speed, accuracy, data processing with neural clarity and neural noise cancelling.

Neural plasticity like physical flexibility can be improved.

 React quicker, see quicker, process plays quicker, and acquire and retain new skills.


Increase your BDNF

BDNF production is affected by various factors like

exercise, nutrition, supplements, sleep and stress.


Neuro-Sports Exercise significantly increases levels of BDNF which improves performance, neuro-protection and concussion recovery.

Sensory stimulation increases the expression of BDNF when used in conjunction with exercise and nutrition. 

Nutritional supplementation and dietary intake can up-regulate BDNF and enhance performance.

Stress and sleep management has been demonstrated improved levels of BDNF.  This in turn improving emotional welbeing that supports perfomance in training and competition. 

This can be supported with the neuro-sports

'In the Zone' protocol.

Diet & Supplement

for BDNF

Curcumin and resveratrol mitigates the effects of oxidative stress for performance and those with traumatic brain injury.

Anti-inflammatory foods or supplements with resveratrol and omega 3’s can up-regulate BDNF.

Restricting sugar intake and Ketogenic diets (low carb/high fat) improve BDGF capacity for concussion recovery and up regulating neuro protection and neuroplasticity of perfomance.

*This diet should be supervised by an appropriate specialist and not be continued for long periods.

The full BDNF diet should be customised  based on blood screening, age, gender and activity profiling.

What is BDNF?

BDNF is a naturally-occurring protein in the brain that improves athletic performance and neural recovery.  Assisting ecovery from concussion and reducing symptoms associated with post concussion syndrome. In the acute and chronic stages following head trauma.mmediately following concussion, and reducing long term concussion syndrome short and long term concussion.
BDNF protects and repairs your brain cells, increases the growth of new brain cells, and improves learning, memory and mood.

How to boost BDNF?
Foods and Natural Supplements

Exercise that is modified to optimise BDNF

Lifestyle and multi-sensory training in a sensory rich environment,

including out-doors, has demonstrated increased BDNF and brain capacity.


Food or Supplementation?  Which is best?

The answer is not as simple as following a good diet.

People differ in absorption of nutrients and their bodies response to the nutrients.

Yes, a good diet approach is often best, balanced by supplements, based on body function.

It is strongly recommended that serious athletes take blood tests to customise diet to optimise performance and.

Foods that naturally contain the appropriate nutients have suffered nutrient depletion either by over farming or simply by over-cooking or processing. In such cases, supplementation may prove to be the most efficient way of dosing up form BDNF.

Supplementation may offer a solution to this and also provide easy access when traveling or in a busy schedule with work. However in some cases the absorbtion of nutrients is better with a companion nutrient that is found in whole food. Some substances simply boost the absorption of others.







1. Coffee Fruit Concentrate
Whole coffee fruit has a number of brain health benefits.
It includes the flesh of the berry that surrounds the coffee bean.
Traditionally, the coffee bean is extracted for roasting, and the surrounding fruit is discarded.
This is a problem because the coffee fruit contains several healthy compounds not found in coffee beans themselves.
After years of careful clinical research, scientists have discovered that ingesting whole coffee fruit concentrate significantly increases BDNF in humans. 
2. Curcumin
Curcumin is the most heavily researched compound found within turmeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow colour.
Studies show that it can increase BDNF production in the brain, leading to improved cognition and mood.
It also protects the brain by activating BDNF.
There are several different forms of “bioavailable” curcumin.
3. Green Tea
Drinking green tea is another way you can increase BDNF.
The antioxidants within it have been shown to increase BDNF.
You can either drink green tea on a regular basis or consider supplementing with a concentrated green tea extract.  
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A large number of people are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids today, and they are necessary for the normal electrical functioning of your brain and nervous system.
They've been shown to improve mood, sleep, learning and memory.
Most people don't consume enough omega-3 fatty acids through their diet, so supplements with essential and sports omega-3 fatty acids with specific combination of the omega-3s can be customised based on sporting activity, age, gender and specific blood test responses.

5. Resveratrol
Resveratrol is a beneficial antioxidant compound found in red wine.
It’s also known to help prevent the development neurodegenerative diseases.
It has neuroprotective effects by elevating BDNF.

6. Prebiotics and Resistant Starch
Prebiotics are the so called good bacteria in our intestines.
Bacteria convert prebiotics into butyrate, a substance that has been shown to increase BDNF.
Prebiotic-rich foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, asparagus and squash.
Other high-quality resistant starches include banana flour, plantain flour and waxy maize.

7. Magnesium
Magnesium has been shown to cause antidepressant effects by significantly increasing BDNF expression in the brain. The best form of magnesium for the brain being magnesium threonate because it’s very effective at passing the blood-brain barrier.  
Magnesium threonate is also the exact form of magnesium shown in studies to increase BDNF.

9. Dark Chocolate (caution due to calorific values)
Everyone loves chocolate. And thankfully, it’s really good for your brain.

As with all nutritional sources, tehre is more than meets the eye.

High Cocoa : Dark Chocolate. 85% and above should be considered for their anti-oxidant properties together with the chemicals that  trigger neuroprotection by activating the BDNF survival pathway.
You should try to eat high-quality, organic dark chocolate with the least amount of sugar.
10. N-Acetyl-Cysteine
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a cheap amino acid and antioxidant, and a very safe and effective way to deal with post concussion recovery and is believed to boost BDNF.

11. Theanine
L-Theanine is a relaxing amino acid found in tea.
It’s known to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
One study also found that theanine increases BDNF.
12. Adaptogenic Herbs
Adaptogens are plants and herbs containing bioactive compounds that can support your brain.
They increase your resilience to physical and mental stress, calm you down, or increase your energy, depending on what your body needs.
Rhodiola is one of my favourite adaptogenic herbs, and it’s been shown to increase BDNF expression in the brain .
Bacopa is another adaptogenic herb effective at improving memory and cognition, and reducing anxiety.
And research shows that bacopa increases BDNF. .
Ginseng has been shown to prevent stress-induced decline of BDNF.
There are several other herbs that have been shown to increase BDNF, including baicalin, ashwagandha, gotu kola, and magnolia officinalis.

13. Zinc
Supplementing with zinc can also increase your BDNF levels.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that activates several hundred enzymatic reactions, including brain and nervous system function and neurotransmission.
Several studies have shown that zinc has antidepressant effects because it causes a significant increase in BDNF levels and BDNF gene expression.
14. Blueberries
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is a great idea if you want to improve your brain health.
Blue berries are particularly potent because of the flavonoids within them.
Research shows that supplementing with the pure blueberry flavanols for 6 weeks, at levels similar to what is found in blueberries, significantly improves memory by increasing BDNF levels and BDNF expression.

15. Progesterone
Research shows that progesterone supports the normal development of brain cells and protects them from damage.
Researchers have also found that it increases BDNF release.
16. Dehydroepiandrosterone
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is one of the most abundant circulating steroid hormones in humans. It’s produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain, and it’s a precursor to other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone.
It's also available as a supplement.
DHEA is known to have neuroprotective effects and to improve memory and cognition.
In one study, it increased acetylcholine and BDNF expression. 
17. Flavonoids ZeoXanthin and Quercetin
ZeoXanthin is a natural extract that passes the blood brain barrier. Surprisingly found in Marigolds. Thankfully it available in formulations in key supplements.

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in fruits and vegetables. 
It is one of the most widely consumed flavonoids in the human diet. 
Quercetin has potent antioxidant action and is “neuroactive”, meaning it can affect brain function. 
As a result, it can protect brain cells from oxidative stress and inhibit the pro-inflammatory molecules that are associated with many progressive brain disorders.Researchers have also found that it increases BDNF. 
Red apples, onions and tomatoes have the high levels of quercetin. But you can also supplement with it if you want.  It’s interesting to point out that quercetin increases the absorption of resveratrol, so it’s a good idea to take them both together if you really want to increase BDNF.

18. Coffee and Caffeine
Drinking coffee is another great way to increase BDNF levels.
Research shows that caffeine protects brain cells and lowers the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases.
In one study, researchers found that caffeine significantly reduced age-related impairments in memory by increasing BDNF levels. 


The use of caffeine in sport is not as simple as you might believe.

People differ in terms of their response to caffeine. 

Timing and dose should be customised to the body response. This is within your DNA and the response and delay in action can be tested so that athletes can customise intake to thier genetic predisposition and body type.
19. Niacin
Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid or Vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient.
Evidence suggests that niacin supplementation up-regulates the expression of BDNF. 

20. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil has numerous health benefits, particularly because of its strong anti-inflammatory effects. 
Oleuropein, a polyphenol found in olive oil, has been shown to induce autophagy and reduce cognitive impairment. 
Researchers have found that it also increases BDNF in important areas of the brain. 
21. Taurine
Taurine is an organic compound found in food, particularly meat and seafood. 
It has a wide variety of health benefits. 
It can cross the blood-brain barrier and increases short-term memory by increasing BDNF expression. 
22. Saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the Crocus sativus plant. 
It has a number of health benefits due to the medicinal compounds within it.
Researchers have found that it has antidepressant effects because it significantly increases BDNF levels. 


Lifestyle and Activity .

1. Exercise
Exercise is the fastest and most effective way to boost BDNF levels, and improve learning, memory and mood.
In just 5 weeks, pulsed exercise significantly increased BDNF levels and reversed cognitive decline.
And it’s not just old brains that benefit from regular exercise. High-intensity exercise increases BDNF and improves memory brain function associated with skill acquisition..
A customised program or recovery should be designed for you based on sport, age, gender, training phase and goals.

2. Sunlight
Exposing yourself to sunshine each day can also increase BDNF.
One study found that BDNF increased in the summer and spring, and decreased in the fall and winter. They also found that participants with the lowest BDNF levels were more likely to be depressed, which likely explains why some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
On top of increasing BDNF, the sun also provides Vitamin D, which is very important for optimal brain and mental health.
It's important to test and monitor your Vitamin D levels before and after supplementing with it.
3. Intermittent Fasting
Fasting allows your digestive system to take a break, and triggers a number of hormones that boost your body’s ability to repair itself.
One benefit is that it increases BDNF signalling, which can improve heart and brain health.
And studies show that limiting yourself to only 600 calories every other day boosts BDNF up to 400 per cent. Evidence supports a fast for 16 hours although even a 12-hour fast shows some benefits.
All you need to do is avoid eating anything after dinner, and then eat a regular breakfast the next day.
4. Avoid Processed Food and Refined Sugar
Many studies suggest that if you eat processed food and sugar you'll have lower levels of BDNF and neurotransmitters, and impaired cognition.
6. Deep Sleep
Getting high-quality, deep sleep is critical for the health of your brain.
Not surprisingly, sleep deprivation reduces BDNF.
Luckily, regular exercise can maintain BDNF levels when you’re not getting enough sleep.

Brainwave and Neuro-feedback assists in dropping into a relaxed sleep or meditative state.

7. Reduce Stress (Neurofeedback/Meditation) EEG Neuro-feedback training.
Stress can also ruin your sleep, which as I mentioned earlier, decreases BDNF.
The most effective way to significantly reduce stress and anxiety is neurofeedback. See ‘in the zone’ and flow section of the website.

Using Bio-feedback monitors helps you find ways of getting you into the correct brain set.



8. Ketogenic Diet
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body runs on fatty acids. This happens when there is limited access to glucose, the body’s main source of energy. Ketosis often results from following a very low-carb diet (49).
To get into ketosis, you need to eat less than 50 grams of carbs per day, meaning you have to avoid grains, sugar, and even potatoes, legumes and fruit.

It is not recommended athletes follow a low-carb ketogenic diet for long periods of time. Unless you are the exception, who witness huge beneficial changes in your health and performance.
However, going in and out of ketosis may have some beneficial effects on your brain. One study found that it can increase BDNF.
Taking exogenous ketones can help you get into ketosis very quickly.

Note of caution. Reducing carbs in the short and long term needs to be regulated by a specialist. Many cases of Ketogenic diets severely impact on carbohydrate based energy systems that are essential to effective training and performance.


more about training to optimise BDNF
Customise your diet for BDNF