Already have an account?
Get back to the

What Is BDNF? Why Some Call It the Miracle Brain Booster — And How To Increase Your Levels

It plays a key role in mood, memory, and mental processing.

Ever wonder if there’s a natural way to truly boost your brain health? A substance called BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) plays a key role in keeping mood, memory, and mental processing at their peak. It’s so vital for brain-cell growth, repair and signaling that it’s been dubbed ‘Miracle-Gro’ for the brain. And while levels can dip from our 30s to our 50s and continue to decline, boosting BDNF may be easy.

Enjoy another cup of joe.

Go ahead and linger over a second cup of coffee in the morning, or sip an extra-large latte at lunch: Research in the journal Molecular Medicine Reports suggests that sipping two to three cups of coffee daily lifts BDNF levels. Credit goes to the brew’s caffeine, which activates receptors on brain cells to stimulate BDNF release.

Tickle your funny bone.

Love laughing along with classic sitcoms like All in the Family or The Golden Girls? Good for you! Research published in the journal Psychiatry Investigation found that laughing for 40 minutes every day elevates BDNF levels. Investigators explain laughter soothes the stress that can send BDNF levels plunging.

Add this oil.

Drizzling just 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil onto salads, pasta, or roasted veggies daily may increase BDNF levels within eight weeks, findings in the International Journal of Food Properties suggest. Experts say that credit goes to the oil’s rich supply of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a fatty acid that nourishes the brain regions that make BDNF.

Consider curcumin.

Taking 100 milligrams of curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color, twice daily boosts levels of BDNF, a study in Neuropeptides found. Curcumin is high in polyphenol compounds that protect against the cellular damage that can lower BDNF production. Try: Garden of Life mykind Organics Extra Strength Turmeric (Buy from iHerb, $21.69).

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.