Tl;dr: sleep, sunlight, seafood, and exercise. Maybe some others. No industrial foods.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) comes up a lot, so I’ll just tell you now, it’s like brain-fertilizer.
Sunlight promotes dopamine synthesis in your brain (eg, de Lima et al., 2011). Dopamine, via D5 receptor, has a lot of direct effects on memory and learning, but also stimulates BDNF (Perreault et al., 2013). Take a walk outside after breakfast and/or lunch. Bonus: vitamin D is also good for the brain and exercise after meals promotes +nutrient partitioning.
At night, you need melatonin, and for that, you need darkness. In my experience, it’s harder to control sleep onset & duration than time in darkness. T.S. Wiley recommends 9.5 hours of darkness. That’s a lot, I know, but I have a lot of respect for Wiley and she explains it well in Lights Out!
The studies on melatonin supps are mixed (eg, 1, 2, 3, 4) but those on crappy sleep aren’t (eg, 1, 2, 3), so come on fam, at least get some blue blockers (if you choose Carbonshade or Spectra479, use coupon code LAGAKOS for 15% off).
The positive influence of exercise on brain health seems to have many mechanisms, BDNF being one of them (Seifert et al., 2010). Myokines from exercising muscles have a part in this (Philips et al., 2014), so does beta-hydroxybutyrate (eg, Sleiman et al., 2016 and Marosi et al., 2016). Possible role for exogenous bHB supps?
Niacin is also a precursor to NAD+, and this company really REALLY thinks NAD+ is the bomb (see their website for a round-up of the science). Rodent studies have suggested nicotinamide riboside is better at boosting brain NAD+ than niacin (eg, Collins and Chaykin, 1972), but as mentioned above, niacin isn’t hard to find via diet.
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