Healthfit kowledge

A collection of articles to help improve Workplace Wellbeing.

BDNF - the little chemical that can change the world.

Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a chemical that naturally occurs in the human brain. Its benefits are numerous and far-reaching. A high amount of BDNF can help employees be adaptable and critical for higher level thinking. 

Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a chemical that naturally occurs in the human brain. Its benefits are numerous and far-reaching. A high amount of BDNF can help employees be adaptable and critical for higher level thinking. 

Clearly, it is important. However, a workplace environment that creates a less healthy lifestyle results in a deficiency of this all-important chemical. Therefore, understanding how to leverage this power could be a performance game-changer for organisations. So why is BDNF so powerful? We first need to explain the ‘what’ before the ‘why’. 


BDNF is a protein which is responsible for a huge number of vital functions that help us to be as healthy and effective as possible. BDNF is active in the hippocampus, cortex, and forebrain—areas vital to learning, memory, and long-term memory. 


BDNF plays a role in neuroplasticity, which allows nerve cells in the brain to compensate for an injury. It can help people adjust to new situations or changes in the environment as well as help them to lose weight, suppress appetite, increase energy and metabolism. 


There is also a lot of interest into whether it can help a number of devastating brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and Huntington’s Disease. Interestingly correlations between depression and low BDNF blood levels are constantly popping up, this can explain why we feel grumpy after a few days of lazing around. 


Imagine someone could give you a pill that could do all of that for you? 

It would be worth a pretty penny that’s for sure. 


The thing is, we wouldn’t need an external dose of this chemical if people improved a few simple aspects of their lifestyle. This includes sleeping better, and more often, reducing acute and chronic stress, getting regular natural light and getting cognitive stimulation - unfortunately many of these are negatively affected by a high-stress work environment. 


An organisation that can decrease stress and empower its employees to take up these lifestyles, would see a significant increase in productivity.


Organisations wanting people to perform better mentally, physically and emotionally need to get creative when it comes to recognising that life needs to be lived in balance. Doing so helps people to be better versions of themselves. This all has huge implications for the businesses they work in - adapt or die.


Greig Rightford
July 8, 2019