“I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency.” -Plato
Intermittent fasting increases the production of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). To the extent of our knowledge, fasting is the best way to boost the levels of BDNF.
BDNF is a hormone that takes root in the brain and it enhances the resistance of neurons from degeneration. “It has a neuroprotective role,” as well as preserves memory. It also helps in the repairing process of damaged nerve cells.
So, how does this happen?
In the fasting experience, the process known as autophagy is initiated.
Autophagy is the process in which the body’s damaged and worn out cells are repaired and recycled. This process is also credited with the riddance of waste materials in the cells.
Furthermore, BDNF is renowned for the promotion of developing new neurons, a process known as neurogenesis. Scientists and researchers have also concluded that BDNF stimulates the development of new synapses between neurons. The logical conviction felt by most, is that combining all of these effects can significantly increase brain potentials like memory, cognition, learning and may even cure serious brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, a multitude of studies has shown these things to be true (or at least suggested). Studies done with mice who were subjected to intermittent fasting showed that the mice who intermittent fasted had improved cognitive ability.
All of this research suggests that intermittent fasting improves the brain and may help heal and/or prevent Alzheimer’s.
Of course, BDNF can be released in other ways, as well. However, it must be noted that intermittent fasting is still credited with being one of the most significant ways to release BDNF naturally.
Davidson, John, and Muhammad Usman. Amazing Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. JD-Biz Corp Publishing, 2013. Print.