Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is a protein that plays an important role in hippocampal neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and mitochondrial and DNA repair of neurons. Along with increased ketone production, this protein improves memory and brain function and wards off neurodegenerative disease by helping the brain create and protect new brain cells and connections.
A sedentary lifestyle and high carb diet plus inadequate fatty acid intake decrease BDNF levels. This decrease is associated with diabetes mellitus and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Huntington's and Multiple Sclerosis.
Increase of ketones and BDNF can be achieved through regular prolonged fasting or energy (carbohydrate) restriction combined with physical exercise and polyunstaturated fatty acid intake. Canabis also promotes hippocampal neurogenesis through supplementation of the (often deficient) endocannabinoid system. The building blocks for this system, endocannabinoids, are synthesized from fatty acids like DHA.
When the body is depleted of carbohydrates, it uses fatty acids such as Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to create BDNF. If this fatty acid is not replaced in diet after exercise, it can lead to cognitive and physical decline, as it is needed in neuronal and retinal tissue. Many other vitamins, such as B complex and vitamin D also play a role in BDNF production and therefore need to be consumed regularly to delay neruodegeneration.
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