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A study published Wednesday in The Journal of Physiology found that short, intense exercise increased the production of a specialized protein vital for brain formation, learning, and memory, which could extend the lifespan of a healthy brain. .
A specialized protein called the brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF contributes to neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form new connections and pathways. According to researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand, BDNF also promotes neuronal survival, which has become a key focus in aging research.
“BDNF has shown great promise in animal models, but pharmaceutical interventions have so far failed to safely exploit the protective power of BDNF in humans”, — said lead author Travis Gibbons of the University of Otago, New Zealand. “We saw the need to explore drug-free approaches that preserve the brain's ability that people can use to naturally increase BDNF to help them with healthy aging.”
The researchers also examined the effects of fasting on BDNF production both individually and in combination with various forms of exercise.
The experiment involved 12 physically active men and women aged 18 to 56 who fasted for 20 hours, did low-intensity exercise for 90 minutes and high-intensity exercise for six minutes, and combined fasting and exercise.< br />
Scientists have found that short but vigorous exercise is the most effective way to increase BDNF by four to five times compared to fasting with or without a long set of light exercise.
The increase in BDNF may be related to cerebral substrate switching and glucose metabolism, which is the brain's main fuel source. During shorter, higher-intensity exercise, the brain's switch from glucose to lactate consumption initiates pathways to increase blood levels of BDNF. Researchers also speculate that the increase in BDNF during exercise may be due to higher concentrations of platelets, which store large amounts of BDNF.
Researchers analyzed the effects of calorie restriction and exercise on BDNF and brain health in the course of the study.
“We were curious to see if heavy exercise at the start of a fast accelerated the beneficial effects of fasting,” — Gibbons said. “Diet and exercise are rarely studied together. We believe that fasting and exercise can be used together to optimize BDNF reproduction in the human brain”.
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