Morning Exercise…do we really need another reason? BDNF, that’s the reason.
I often recommend morning exercise over afternoon exercise, particularly with clients who have sleep difficulties and here is another reason, BDNF.
What is it?
Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). And what the hell is that I hear you say. It is a protein that is made inside the nerve cells and it functions like a superfood for our brain, it’s a brain fertiliser. BDNF allows the messages that are travelling through the brain to get where they need to go and improves the signal strength, for those of you who have ever tried to tune a radio…that feeling when you get the tuning just right – pure gold. BDNF improves synaptic plasticity, meaning it can change, back to the radio example, it’s not stuck on one volume, it can go up and down. Synaptic plasticity is involved in learning and memory and BDNF has shown to improve social behaviour in schools.
So how do we increase BDNF? Exercise has shown to increase BDNF and with so many other health benefits, why the hell not! With the cognitive benefits, it illustrates that morning exercise is a great way to increase learning ability and behaviour for those heading to work and school.
Low levels of BDNF have been seen in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis in addition to depression, bipolar disorder, stress and type 2 diabetes with healthy hormone metabolism being essential for BDNF production. Progesterone, oestrogen and DHEA are necessary to produce BDNF.
- Resistant starch due to its ability to produce butyrate
- Cooked cold potato, rice or pasta
- Green bananas
- White beans
- Uncooked rolled oats
- Raw honey
- Turmeric (curcumin)
- Cocoa due to flavonoids and magnesium
- Fatty Fish (wild caught salmon, anchovies, sardines – due to the DHA content)
- Liver (must be organic 100% grass fed) due to the high vitamin B3
- Certain strains of probiotics
- Matcha Green tea due to the theanine
- Limiting sugar consumption
- Cold and heat exposure (infrared sauna is my pick!)
- Regular sleep patterns
The key takeaway is get moving in the morning, not only will your cognitive ability improve so will your energy levels. Eat a healthful whole food diet low in sugar and high in resistant starch and prebiotics to maintain a healthy gut.