All About GABA

All About GABA

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

How to Increase GABA Naturally

 

While some use benzodiazapines to treat their anxiety, most people would benefit from increasing their own levels of GABA in their systems. Given the daily stress and pressure that most people endure, finding ways to increase the natural level of GABA makes perfect sense. Especially for those who have difficulty relaxing or unwinding during the day.

 

Otherwise known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA is a neurotransmitter that is associated with a more relaxed attitude, better sleep, and reduced tension, anxiety, and stress. Your body produces GABA which increases the communication between your brain cells. In addition, GABA also interacts with receptors in the gut that have an impact on your emotional state.

 

Of course, you could always lower the stress by changing your job, but that is simply not possible or practical for most people. If you cannot change your surroundings, then you have to change yourself. And it is possible that you may have a GABA deficiency.

 

By increasing the amount of GABA, you can bring about a calmer, more peaceful you. GABA also helps break the cycle of the overactive mind and helps put things into better perspective. What follows are five methods for naturally increasing GABA in your system1https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/gamma-Aminobutyric-acid.

Consume More Foods that Produce GABA

 

This is arguably the easiest way to naturally increase the levels of GABA in your system. Plus, the foods that help your body produce more GABA are good for you. This is a great way to improve your diet and your mood at the same time. Such foods that include glutamic acid, which is the substance that boosts GABA production include the following:

 

  • Citrus Fruits: Such as bananas, lemons, and the like
  • Nuts: Almond and walnuts are excellent sources
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, lentils, potatoes, and spinach work quite well
  • Fish & Shrimp: Halibut is a great source of glutamic acid

 

In addition, brown rice is an excellent source of glutamic acid and can be served with many different meals. Add in soy proteins and fermented yogurt and kefir and you have plenty of sources to create more GABA in your body.

Cut Down on Alcohol, Drugs, and Junk Food

 

It is true that consuming alcohol and certain drugs will activate the GABA in your brain to help you feel good. The problem comes with the after-effects that make consuming alcohol and drugs so problematic. It’s really not worth the short-term boost when you experience a hangover, feel depressed or anxious which only increases once the drugs and alcohol wear off.

 

The same is true for the short-term boost of GABA from junk food. While the immediate after-effects are not as strong, the long-term effects on your body may be even worse. Weight gain and sluggish digestion only bring down the booth in GABA that was experienced. It’s better to limit your consumption of alcohol, drugs, and junk food to the point where they have no real effect. In other words, a glass of wine is fine, but that should be your limit for the day.

Get Plenty of Exercise

 

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise offers a proven way to build GABA in your system the natural way. You will need to exercise regularly in order to maintain the levels of GABA desired in your system. You do not have to engage in a vigorous exercise program, but you do need to be consistent if you want to get results. This means walking, jogging, running, or hiking at least four times each week.

 

You can also engage in aerobics that provides constant activity for 20 to 30 minutes each day. The increase in GABA will be noticeable as your anxiety decreases along with your sleep improving. This will create a better mood and why so many mental health programs have exercise as part of their function.

 

Meditation

 

Proper meditation uses proven relaxation methods such as deep breathing and focusing on a pleasing image to help boost GABA production. Proper meditation only takes a few minutes to perform. You can do so before heading off to work, after you get home, or during a break. Start by finding a comfortable position to sit, then close your eyes and draw in deep breaths through your nose. Hold it for a second or two, then exhale through the mouth.

 

This type of meditation not only helps boost GABA production, it clears the mind so you can focus better. This can help you get a better handle on work and other activities during the day.

 

Yoga

 

If you are looking for a low-impact exercise that still has the same benefits as walking or jogging, then yoga might do the trick. Yoga offers a great way to cool down and stretch which helps boost GABA production. This is because yoga works the mind and the body thanks to its focus on stretching and holding a position for more than a few seconds. It is the combination of stretching and sequences of posture that make yoga a great exercise. This is especially true for those who may have difficulty walking or jogging.

GABA Supplements

 

There are natural sources of GABA that you can take regularly to help temporarily boost your mood. The supplements are perfect when you are trying to reduce anxiety or calm yourself down before going to bed. They include the following:

 

  • Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Zinc
  • Taurine, which is an amino acid
  • Green Tea

 

Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is a good way to boost your immune system as well. Green tea makes for an excellent after-dinner drink that can help soothe your nerves and prepare you for bed. Just be sure to not drink an excessive amount or you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night.

 

Boosting the GABA in your system naturally through changes in your diet and exercise can do wonders to boost your mood and help you feel calm and relaxed through the day. Keep in mind that such changes should be gradual so they can become habitual.

References:  GABA

 

  1. Al-Sarraf H. (2002). Transport of 14C-gamma-aminobutyric acid into brain, cerebrospinal fluid and choroid plexus in neonatal and adult rats. []
  2. Camm A. J., Malik M., Bigger J. T., Breithardt G., Cerutti S., Cohen R. J., et al. . (1996). Heart rate variability: standards of measurement, physiological interpretation and clinical use. []
  3. Kuraishi S. (2000). Development of the “uchida-kraepelin psychodiagnostic test” in Japan. []
  4. Reid S.N.S., Ryu J.K., Kim Y., Jeon B.H. The effects of fermented Laminaria japonica on short-term working memory and physical fitness in the elderly. Evid. Based Complement. Altern. Med. []
  5. Schellack N., Naicker P. Hypertension: A review of antihypertensive medication, past and present. S. Afr. Pharm. J. 2015;82:17–25. []
  6. Akama K., Kanetou J., Shimosaki S., Kawakami K., Tsuchikura S., Takaiwa F. Seed-specific expression of truncated OsGAD2 produces GABA-enriched rice grains that influence a decrease in blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Transgenic Res. []
  7. Adamu H.A., Imam M.U., Ooi D.J., Esa N.M., Rosli R., Ismail M. Perinatal exposure to germinated brown rice and its gamma amino-butyric acid-rich extract prevents high fat diet-induced insulin resistance in first generation rat offspring. []
  8. Song K., Song I.B., Gu H.J., Na J., Kim S., Yang H.S., Lee S.C., Huh C., Kwon J. Anti-diabetic effect of fermented milk containing conjugated linoleic acid on type II diabetes mellitus. Korean J. Food Sci. Anim. Resour. []
  9. Choi J.I., Yun I.H., Jung Y.J., Lee E.H., Nam T.J., Kim Y.M. Effects of γ-aminobutyric acid (gaba)-enriched sea tangle Laminaria japonica extract on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in mouse macrophage (RAW 264.7) cells. []
  10. Yang Y., Lian Y.T., Huang S.Y., Yang Y., Cheng L.X., Liu K. GABA and topiramate inhibit the formation of human macrophage-derived foam cells by modulating cholesterol-metabolism-associated molecules. []
Summary
How to Increase GABA Naturally
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How to Increase GABA Naturally
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Otherwise known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA is a neurotransmitter that is associated with a more relaxed attitude, better sleep, and reduced tension, anxiety, and stress. Your body produces GABA which increases the communication between your brain cells. In addition, GABA also interacts with receptors in the gut that have an impact on your emotional state.
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