8 Ways to improve BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor)

BDNF is a powerful protein that promotes creation of new brain cells and strengthens old ones, it a key player in the brains plasticity. The brains ability to constantly learn new skills, adopt new personality traits adapt to new environments all stems from the protein. Deficiency in it is seen as a major precursor to diseases like Alzheimer’s and other neuro degeneration as well as forms of depression and mental illness. Needless to say it’s pretty important and increasing it goes a long way to keeping your mind sharp. BDNF literally flips a switch to upregulate genes in charge of growing new brain cells and pathways. Increasing levels of BDNF will improve learning speed, memory and adaptability.

Here are a few ways to improve BDNF and create a brain worthy of a superhuman


  1. Exercise

Exercise has shown to improve BDNF but not all exercise is equal on this one, strength training will only give you a short boost post workout for example. The most powerful is long distance exercise which can increase BDNF by 200-300% but I prefer morning cardio as it has other qualities as well. Morning cardio will improve energy levels, BDNF benefits, long term memory creation and bowl movements.

  1. Sleep

You naturally will release more BDNF at night during deep sleep then you will in the day so anything to get you into a deeper better sleep will improve this.

My top tips for this would be to turn off your wifi router at night and remove any devices that create microwave or radio wave emissions from your bedroom while you sleep as it will disrupt your sleep and prevent you getting into that deep phase where all the good stuff happens

Black out the room so you’re in complete darkness while you sleep

When then sun goes down make sure you avoid artificial light cover your skin as much as possible and wear blue light blocking glasses as light at night will decrease melatonin production which is vital for deep sleep.

  1. Meditation

Meditation not only decreases stress which kills BDNF but it also aids in growth of areas of the brain linked to pleasure, memory and emotional control. This combo leads to increased BDNF too.

  1. Psychedelics

Psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms have shown to increase in BDNF when taken due to the effect they have on connecting areas of the brain that normally wouldn’t communicate. This strategy has also been used with some great effects on depression and PTSD suffers as well as some of the modern day Silicon Valley using micro dosing of these drugs to improve cognitive function.

  1. Hypoxia

Controlled hypoxia actually will cause a list of benefits one of them being an increase in BDNF, you can use various breathing exercises or even try your hand at free diving or face dunks to get some added benefit of the mammalian dive reflex.

  1. Saunas

Saunas can induce a stress response to manage your body temperature that stimulates an increase in BDNF. Practicing your cardio in heat also has shown to improve the release of BDFN further, so hot yoga anyone.

  1. Cold thermogenesis

Maintaining your body temperature or rebalancing the system in any way needs plasticity so just like saunas and hypoxia this will induce and increased release of BDNF, as well as a huge host of other benefits.

  1. Sunlight

If you didn’t know now you do sun light is good for, get out and get more! Sunlight will increase BDNF but for me that’s one of its least important roles as it sits behind things like vitamin D creation and the control of our circadian rhythm not to mention our Vitamin A cycle. Sunlight literally dictates health and if you hide from it in the shade or under creams you are depriving yourself of its superpower giving energy, manage your time in it, respect it but get in it.