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Intermittent Fasting: Powerful Effect on Anxiety & Depression – Thomas DeLauer
Here’s how intermittent fasting can not only improve your mood, but also help support the production of new brain cells. We’re talking literally getting smarter. You see, everything I’m going to talk about in this video is backed up in peer-reviewed journals. I’m talking purely evidence-based science that truly looks at how fasting helps improve our mood and encourages the production of new brain cells.
But before we can start to understand how fasting literally affects the brain, we have to understand something known as brain-derived neurotropic factor, BDNF. BDNF is a naturally occurring growth hormone that helps promote what is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to migrate and shape-shift. We used to think that once you lost a brain cell, you lost it for good. But nowadays, we know that this BDNF thing allows our brains to produce new brain cells. If we have adequate amounts of BDNF, we can produce new brain cells, but also preserve existing brain cells. So, not only can we keep our brain from sort of dying off, we can actually help support new growth, especially when it comes down to memory.
So, what we have to look at is the relationship between fasting and BDNF. Fasting has been shown in multiple studies to improve brain-derived neurotropic factor, but specifically when it has to do with synapses. Synapses are where neurotransmitters travel from cell to cell, so without synapses, we don’t have the ability to send signals through serotonin or dopamine or any of those neurotransmitters. So, fasting has been shown to promote that. In fact, there was actually a study that was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry that found that simple bouts of intermittent fasting for just a few weeks could improve your BDNF levels anywhere from 50% all the way up to 400%. That’s pretty darn alarming. And now that we’re starting to understand how powerful BDNF is, this particular study just gained a heck of a lot more clout.
Now, we already know that fasting helps promote BDNF, which is powerful and cool in and of itself. But fasting specifically helps BDNF when it comes down to synapses. It promotes what is known as synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity is a lot like simple brain plasticity, except it has to do with our synapses. And remember, synapses are what allow neurotransmitters to do their thing. So, when we have synaptic plasticity, it means that we’re able to modulate our moods a lot better. For example, we’re able to strengthen a synapse or weaken a synapse whenever possible. Now, you might be wondering, “Why would I ever want to weaken a synapse?” Well, let me give you an example. You wouldn’t want to constantly have a surge of serotonin going when you don’t need one. When you’re scared or your frightened, why would you want the feel-good hormone to be pumping? You want to be frightened, because that’s going to allow you to do the job that you need to do to get out of harm’s way.
1) Neuroplasticity in mood disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181795/
2) Neuroplasticity Studies Give Hope for Treatment Advances | Psychiatric News. (2008, January 18). Retrieved from https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/pn.43.2.0028
3) Brain-derived neurotrophic factor ( BDNF ) gene: no major impact on antidepressant treatment response | International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology | Oxford Academic. (2010, February 1). Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article/13/1/93/647804
4) Fasting and Exercise Increase Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor – Rogue Health and Fitness. (2017, September 5). Retrieved from http://roguehealthandfitness.com/fasting-exercise-increase-brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor/
5) Dr Brady Salcido. (2017, November 11). 6 Surprising Brain Power Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@drbradysalcido/6-surprising-brain-power-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting-49ad1bc39e04
6) Mattson MP , et al. (n.d.). Meal size and frequency affect neuronal plasticity and vulnerability to disease: cellular and molecular mechanisms. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12558961
7) All You Need to Know About BDNF + Natural Ways to Increase It – Selfhacked. (2018, June 11). Retrieved from https://www.selfhacked.com/blog/a-comprehensive-list-of-natural-ways-to-increase-bdnf/#BDNF_and_Wellness
8) BDNF signaling: Harnessing stress to battle mood disorder. (2018, April 10). Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/115/15/3742.short