Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter found in high concentration in the brain. It is a brain chemical that blocks certain communications between nerve cells in the brain.
Low levels of GABA may be linked to:
- Anxiety or mood disorders
- Chronic pain
Benefits of increasing the amount of GABA
It has become the most common drug for treating anxiety. GABA supplements gave the patient an increased feeling of relaxation during a stressful event. The relaxing effects were felt within an hour of taking the supplement.
- High blood pressure
Daily consumption of a fermented milk product that contained GABA reduced blood pressure in people with slightly elevated blood pressure after two to four weeks. Taking a GABA-containing Chlorella supplement twice a day reduced blood pressure in those with borderline hypertension.
GABA activity is important for sleep. It enables the body and mind to relax and fall asleep, and to sleep soundly throughout the night.
- Stress and fatigue
GABA supplement may benefit sleep by aiding relaxation and providing relief from stress. It puts the body in a greater state of relaxation and alleviates stress.
Raise your GABA naturally
You can raise GABA without supplements or drugs and an easy way is by decreasing your daily stress. A few good options to boost your GABA:
Sitting in silent reflection increases brain GABA levels as well as sensitivity to GABA signaling.
Stretching and mindfulness exercise can also increase GABA signaling.
Exercise in general increases GABA signaling and relieves anxiety, stress, and depression.
Foods that you eat that are rich in B-6 can help increase GABA naturally, like broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, and garlic
Here are some foods and drinks that your brain might be craving to increase GABA:
- Swap your afternoon coffee for a cup of oolong tea.
- When we feel overworked and worn out, many people drink coffee. But as we know most coffees have high levels of caffeine, which increases the dopamine in our brains. Try oolong tea instead. It contains GABA, and sipping it may provide you with the break your brain and body needs.
- Swap the candy bar for cherry tomatoes and hummus.
- The high levels of fat in that candy bar are not only bad for your waistline, it’s bad for your brain! High levels of unhealthy fat also increase dopamine levels. Cherry tomatoes on the other hand are rich in GABA, and the olive oil in hummus helps to balance your omega-3 versus omega-6 ratio. This ratio can help balance all of your brain chemicals over the long-term which will leave you feeling peaceful and happy.
- Swap the soda for a glass of kefir, a probiotic drink.
- Soda as we are all aware are associated with obesity, try swapping it out with kefir. Kefir contains GABA, and the carbohydrates boost serotonin, your other main feel-good, peaceful brain chemical.
- Swap orange chicken and fried rice for grilled shrimp and brown rice.
- The high fat in orange chicken and fried rice flood your brain with dopamine which can even set you up for food addiction, as you crave more and more. But the shrimp contains a healthy dose of GABA, and the high-fiber brown rice gives you a nice, healthy release of serotonin.
Whether taking a supplement, start meditating or trying a food swap mentioned, your brain will thank you for bringing your GABA levels into balance. Now, let’s discuss how breathing and yoga can affect your GABA levels.
It is known that both breathing and yoga affect the parasympathetic nervous system, particularly through a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The release of GABA helps bring the body into a state of rest and restoration.
There is a published study that is very promising, indicating that after a monitored 12-week yoga and coherent breathing program, participants in the depression and anxiety group showed normalization of the thalamic GABA levels on Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, before and after the session.
This is amazing as it shows that through breathing and yoga the GABA levels of the healthy control group and that of the patients group become very similar after only 12 weeks!