GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is an important neurotransmitter crucial in regulating brain activity and promoting relaxation. Low levels of GABA have been linked to various mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. While prescription medications are available to increase GABA levels artificially, many people prefer natural methods for boosting this vital neurotransmitter. In this article, we will discuss some effective ways to increase GABA naturally and improve your overall well-being.

See Best Vitamins For Depression and 7 Foods To Avoid With Anxiety

Image of the brain on green background

What is GABA?

GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter or a chemical messenger made in the brain.

Neurotransmitters are often classified into excitatory and inhibitory. Inhibitory neurotransmitters prevent or block the message from being conveyed further, while excitatory ones promote message transmission from one nerve cell to the other.

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it lessens the nerve cell’s ability to create, receive, or send chemical messages to other nerve cells. In other words, GABA slows down the brain by blocking specific signals in the central nervous system. This may help maintain a healthy balance of excitatory and inhibitory signals in the nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).

When levels of GABA are low, it can lead to anxiety disorders, seizures, insomnia, and other neurological conditions. 

That’s why in the case of anxiety or sleep disorders, the medications used often target increasing the GABA to help achieve some level of calmness and relaxation. 

However, these drugs can also have side effects such as drowsiness or impaired motor function. That’s why learning to increase your GABA naturally can be very beneficial. Best Brain Supplements.

Benefits of increasing GABA levels

Increasing GABA levels can have numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. Here are some of the ways increasing GABA levels can benefit your overall health and well-being:

1. Reduces anxiety

While occasional anxiety is normal and healthy, excessive anxiety can have detrimental effects on your daily life. People who suffer from anxiety may experience persistent thoughts of worry and fear that interfere with their ability to function normally.

According to research, GABA acts as a natural tranquilizer and can help lower anxiety and promote relaxation, which can calm down overactive neurons in the brain.

According to one study that evaluated the effects of GABA intake on the brain wave, it was found that GABA induces relaxation and anxiety 1 hour after intake. See Anti-Anxiety Diet

2. Improves sleep

Studies have shown that GABA acts as a natural sedative, slowing down brain activity and calming the nervous system. This makes it easier for the body to relax and fall asleep naturally.

Also, GABA promotes better sleep through its ability to decrease muscle tension. When we are stressed or anxious, our muscles tend to tense up, making it difficult for us to relax completely. 

By increasing levels of GABA in the brain, you can reduce this tension and achieve a deeper state of physical relaxation that facilitates more restful sleep.

Additionally, GABA has been shown to increase overall levels of slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is the deepest stage of non-REM sleep. During SWS, our bodies go into repair mode, which allows for overall health. see 15 Home Remedies For Sleep

3. Lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure occurs when the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high, which can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

One way GABA may help lower blood pressure is by acting as a natural vasodilator. This means it can help relax and widen blood vessels, allowing for improved blood flow and reduced pressure on arterial walls. Do Bananas Lower Blood Pressure?

4. Boosts focus and concentration

When GABA levels are low, the brain becomes overactive, making it difficult to concentrate on tasks or pay attention for extended periods of time. By increasing GABA levels in the brain, you can improve your ability to focus and maintain concentration.

5. Supports healthy digestion

The nervous system in our gut contains receptors for neurotransmitters like GABA, indicating its importance in maintaining healthy digestive function. Memory Improvement Tips

How to Increase Gaba Naturally

1. Exercise

Several studies have shown that vigorous bouts of exercise increase two types of common neurotransmitters, glutamate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA.

However, the type and intensity of exercise may play a role in how much GABA is produced. High-intensity workouts like sprinting have been shown to produce more significant amounts of GABA compared to moderate-intensity activities like walking.

That being said, consistency is key. Some research suggests that regular exercise over time may lead to lasting changes in the brain’s production and regulation of GABA. 

This could explain why regular physical activity has been linked to improved mood, reduced anxiety, and better sleep quality. Who Needs Exercise

Consume GABA-boosting foods

While GABA supplements are available in the market, getting your daily dose of this essential neurotransmitter from natural food sources is always better. 

Here are some foods that naturally contain or promote the production of GABA:

2. Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like, yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut contain high levels of Lactobacillus bacteria, which can increase the level of GABA in your body. 8 Best Probiotics For Vegans

3. Banana

Bananas are known for their high potassium content, which promotes healthy brain function by supporting nerve cell communication and enhancing GABA activity. 9 High Potassium Fruits Other Than Banana 

4. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great source of essential nutrients that promote good health. These nutritious foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. However, one lesser-known benefit of nuts and seeds is their ability to promote the production of GABA in the body. 25 Types Of Nuts

This is due to their high glutamate content, which is converted into GABA.

Some of the best nuts to consume include:

  • Almonds: Almonds are one of the best sources of glutamate. They are also high in magnesium which can help relax muscles and nerves.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that support brain function. They also have high levels of glutamate, which promotes GABA production.
  • Pistachios: Pistachios not only contain glutamate, but they also have vitamin B6, which is necessary for converting it into GABA.
  • Cashews: Cashews are rich in tryptophan which is an amino acid that eventually converts into serotonin – another neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being.
  • Sesame Seeds: Sesame seed contains L-tryptophan, magnesium, zinc & calcium. All these minerals work together synergistically to produce more Gaba.

5. Brown rice

One of the most significant advantages of brown rice is its ability to promote the production of 

GABA in the body. Research further shows that soaking the rice for 8-24 hours increases the GABA levels even more. 

Fermented brown rice has been found to contain up to ten times more GABA than unfermented brown rice. Fermentation involves soaking the grains in water for several more hours before cooking them with additional water until they become soft and fluffy.

Aside from being a good source of GABA, brown rice offers other health benefits too. It’s rich in fiber, vitamins B1 and B6, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. 

Additionally, eating whole-grain foods like brown rice has been linked with lower risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Brown Rice Recipes

6. Cauliflower

Cauliflower contains high amounts of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD), an enzyme responsible for converting glutamate into GABA.

Also, cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant that has been found to improve brain function and reduce inflammation. It also stimulates the production of GABA by activating specific genes responsible for its synthesis.

In addition to increasing GABA levels, cauliflower also contains other beneficial nutrients for brain health. It is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene, which help protect the brain from oxidative stress.

It also contains choline, a nutrient that plays a critical role in cognitive function and memory formation. Cauliflower Recipes

7. Spinach

Spinach is a dark leafy green vegetable packed with nutrients that make it a popular choice for health-conscious individuals. Recent studies have shown that spinach can also increase the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain.

This is because spinach contains high levels of glutamic acid, which, as mentioned, is an amino acid that gets converted into GABA in the brain. 

When you consume spinach regularly, your body uses glutamic acid to produce more GABA in the brain. This means that eating spinach can help boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Moreover, spinach also contains magnesium, which is crucial in regulating nerve function and maintaining healthy levels of GABA in the brain.

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to decreased production of GABA. Nutrition In Cooked Spinach Plus 7 Health Benefits

8. Mushrooms

Consuming mushrooms regularly can be beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety or stress-related disorders. By increasing GABA levels, they can help calm the mind and promote relaxation. Additionally, they are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them an excellent addition to any healthy diet.

Cooked mushrooms are great in all kinds of recipes. Slice or chop them up and add them to pasta dishes, rice dishes, Stir-fries, omelets, stews, soups, and more.

9. Sweet potatoes

Eating sweet potatoes can help boost GABA levels in the brain due to their high content of vitamin B6. 

In addition to vitamin B6, sweet potatoes are also rich in other nutrients that support brain health, such as antioxidants like beta-carotene and anthocyanins. These compounds help protect brain cells from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation.

To incorporate more sweet potatoes into your diet, try roasting them with some olive oil and spices for a tasty side dish or snack. You can also mash them up with some butter or coconut oil for a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. 

​​​​​​​Sweet potato fries are another popular option that can be baked instead of fried for a healthier twist on this classic comfort food. 15 Vegan Sweet Potato Recipes

Others:

6. Meditation

Prayer and meditation have been shown to have numerous benefits for both the mind and body. One of these benefits is its ability to increase levels of GABA.

A study conducted by researchers at Boston University found that participants who meditated regularly had significantly higher levels of GABA than those who did not meditate.

Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that just 12 minutes of daily meditation over eight weeks increased participants’ GABA levels.

The exact mechanisms by which meditation increases GABA are still being studied, but it is believed that the deep relaxation state induced by meditation triggers changes in brain chemistry that lead to increased production and release of this important neurotransmitter. The Eight Laws Of Health

7. Avoid junk and processed foods

Processed and junk foods are often high in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives that can negatively impact your health.

One of the nutrients affected by processed and junk food consumption is GABA.

To avoid these negative effects on your health, it’s essential to limit your intake of processed and junk food as much as possible. Instead, focus on consuming whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. How To Avoid Processed Foods

8. Avoid alcohol intake

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, including the neurotransmitter GABA. When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it increases GABA activity, leading to feelings of calmness and euphoria.

However, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to long-term changes in GABA activity. Over time, the brain becomes less sensitive to GABA’s effects, which can lead to increased anxiety and difficulty sleeping. This is why many people experience hangover symptoms such as headaches and nausea after heavy drinking.

To avoid these negative effects on GABA activity, it is important to limit your alcohol intake. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Dangers Of Alcohol

Final Thoughts

Increasing GABA levels naturally is possible through various lifestyle modifications and dietary changes. 

Incorporating stress-reducing practices like meditation, yoga, and regular exercise can help boost GABA production in the brain. 

Additionally, consuming foods high in glutamine, such as nuts, can support GABA synthesis. 

While there are supplements available that claim to increase GABA levels efficiently, natural methods are safer and more sustainable for long-term health benefits. 

By making simple adjustments to your daily routine and diet, you can achieve an optimal balance of GABA in the body leading to a calmer mind and improved overall well-being.

Other Related Articles

  1. What Does Brain Fog Feel Like?
  2. The Effects Of Sugar On The Brain
  3. 10 Lifestyle Changes For Brain Health
  4. Vegan Brain Booster Foods To Consume
  5. Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Brain Health

If you like and enjoy this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know your feedback.

If you enjoyed this post and would love to see more, join me on YoutubeInstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.

Fortunately, because of the Ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families.