If you care about your healthspan, brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF), a protein found in the brain and spinal cord – matters! It promotes brain plasticity, or the growth of new neurons. Supporting high levels of BDNF leads to slower brain aging, improved learning and memory and helps prevent cognitive decline. How can you increase your BDNF levels?
Research shows that regular yoga and meditation practices increase levels of BDNF. After analyzing 11 studies, a review suggested that both mindfulness exercise-based interventions, like yoga and meditation-based interventions, may increase levels of BDNF.
One study out of the University of Southern California, found that after a 3 month yoga and meditation retreat participants had increased levels of plasma BDNF. However, this could have been influenced by retreat meals and exercise offerings.
Another study showed that for participants, premenopausal women experiencing lower back pain, a 12-week yoga program increased serum levels of BDNF.
The Hearty Take
There is evidence to suggest that levels of BDNF decrease in response to high stress environments. The benefits of yoga and meditation on BDNF, are likely because both of these activities decrease stress levels. Want help starting a yoga or meditation practice? Reach out to your health coach!