(ORDO NEWS) — Neurodegenerative diseases scare many people, and scientists are constantly looking for effective non-pharmacological means of preventing them.
One such remedy can be a short but vigorous physical workout every day.
There is a specialized protein in our brain called brain -derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that stimulates and maintains the development of neurons.
It plays a key role in the brain’s ability to form new connections and pathways. Animal studies have shown that increased levels of BDNF in the brain improves memory, learning, and overall cognition.
Not surprisingly, the apparent neuroprotective properties of the protein have attracted the attention of specialists studying the aging process and related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
It is known that BDNF production rises in response to intermittent fasting and exercise, so researchers from the University of Otago (New Zealand) decided to compare the effectiveness of light and intense training with a 20-hour fast.
The experiment involved 12 physically healthy people, six men and six women, aged 18 to 56 years.
For each trial, there were three phases: a 20-hour fast, an hour and a half of low-intensity physical training, and six minutes of vigorous exercise on a stationary bike.
Before each stage, blood samples were taken from the participants to measure the concentration of BDNF in the blood plasma.
Short intense training turned out to be the most effective way to increase the concentration of BDNF: after a 20-hour fast, there was no visible effect, an hour and a half “lazy” training led to only a slight increase in the concentration of the desired protein, and only six minutes of active exercise increased the content of BDNF by almost five times.
More research will be needed to understand the reason for these differences, but scientists suggest that they are related to our brain’s “switching” to additional sources of energy and the exercise-induced increase in the number of platelets – blood cells containing a large amount of BDNF.
Going forward, the researchers plan to study the effects of longer fasts (up to three days), as well as the combined effects of intense exercise and food restrictions.
Perhaps by combining intermittent fasting with intense training, one can achieve the highest concentrations of BDNF in the brain.
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