Everybody gets stressed out, and it would be difficult to relax and regulate those feelings of stress without sufficient GABA levels.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter and is essential for providing a sense of calm and counteracting the activity of excitatory neurotransmitters.
The problem is that many people do not have enough of the neurotransmitter, which can cause nervousness, insomnia, racing thoughts, and numerous other symptoms.
Knowing how to increase GABA in natural ways can help with relaxation and allow you to reduce stress and anxiety properly.
1. De-stress With Meditation or Yoga
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety because it can provide you with calming effects. In fact, yoga can offer similar results while also being good for your physical health.
Many people use yoga, tai chi, and meditation to find tranquility when they are anxious, and there is evidence to suggest that these techniques can increase GABA levels in the long term (1).
When you meditate, you enter a relaxed state and soothe the mind and body. This offers acute benefits for anxiety and stress.
If you keep practicing, then it will continue to boost GABA and activate GABA receptors. Not only that, but some research shows that when people participate in yoga or meditate, GABA is produced in more abundant amounts.
Furthermore, the process of a chemical messenger communicating with GABA receptors is made more efficient.
It isn’t complicated to get started with meditating to boost GABA production in the nervous system.
Go to a room with no distractions and close your eyes. Concentrate on focusing your thoughts, but do not judge them and let them flow naturally. Next, you can try focusing on deep breathing in and out of your body.
While it can be hard to do over 10 to 15 minutes at first, as you practice, you will find the sense of calm easier and faster, and the benefits to GABA levels will only get stronger.
2. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is essential for both physical and mental health. It can also help to maintain the brain’s natural production of GABA.
This is particularly true of cardiovascular exercise, and the best part is that you do not have to spend your entire life working out (2). As little as 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise per day can profoundly impact GABA in the brain.
As soon as you begin exercising, you may notice that it is easier to relax, relieve muscle tension, and de-stress. This increase in GABA will also help you get more restful sleep and promote a wakeful state without causing hyperactivity in brain chemicals.
This can help with a steady flow of natural energy and the regulation of many neurotransmitters.
Exercise can support GABA production and maintain the efficiency of serotonin, dopamine, and the overall balance of other substances that improve brain health.
Not only that, but exercise is one of the most natural ways to increase GABA.
3. Eat GABA Foods
While there are no GABA-rich foods or even foods containing GABA, there are foods with high levels of glutamic acid or glutamate.
Glutamate is an amino acid precursor necessary to synthesize GABA. These chemicals work together in the brain and body to maintain a healthy neurotransmitter equilibrium.
Therefore, a poor diet will not provide substantial nutrition that ensures the optimal amounts are produced.
Glutamic acid is found in various foods, including cured and preserved foods, meats and cheeses, fish, eggs, mushrooms, soybeans, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, brown rice, and walnuts.
In addition, vitamin B6 is a crucial vitamin for this activity and is found in green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and some fruits like bananas.
Choosing a balanced diet can indirectly influence gamma-aminobutyric acid. In addition, the beneficial bacteria in the gut can also support increased levels of GABA in the brain.
Eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir can significantly impact bacteria like lactobacillus paracasei, lactobacillus brevis, and lactobacillus rhamnosus that are all critical for the healthy production of GABA (3).
4. Use Herbs To Support GABA Production
There are also natural herbs that can act as GABA activators and many of them offer benefits to mood and well-being (4).
One of the most popular herbs with calming effects is valerian root. While people traditionally used valerian as an herbal sleep aid, it may also bind to GABA receptors to promote tranquility.
Kava is another choice that contains kavalactones. These compounds can attack anxiousness rapidly. Ashwagandha is another option, but it works slightly differently because it contains withanolides that can act as GABA activating compounds.
Other options that are considered GABA activators include passionflower and lemon balm. Many people stack these types of natural supplements together to increase low GABA levels.
Like ashwagandha, some work best as a long-term dietary supplement, but others like valerian or kava may immediately support GABA.
There are also brands of relaxing tea that can increase GABA to high concentrations using some of these similar herbs, including lemon balm, passionflower, and ashwagandha, that can be used as a sleep aid or stress solution.
5. Take Supplements
GABA is an amino acid found in a variety of GABA supplements. While some studies indicate GABA does not readily cross the blood-brain barrier, other studies show that it can offer benefits to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and improve focus (5).
Thus, many studies show some efficacy, but more is needed to determine whether these supplements increase GABA significantly.
Research suggests that GABA supplements will work best when combined with other ingredients, like herbs and substances, synergizing with different ways to increase GABA levels.
A GABA supplement may also offer other health benefits like better cognition, better sleep, or feelings of tranquility.
One ingredient often used with a GABA supplement is l-theanine, a compound found in green tea with calming properties as it can also be good for natural energetic concentration.
Another option is taurine as a dietary supplement that supports memory and mood as well as increased GABA.
6. Avoid Drugs, Alcohol, and Junk Food
Lifestyle choices can also affect levels of GABA. For example, while glutamate-rich foods can have a positive effect, the opposite may be true if you overeat junk food.
Glucose and other sugars can inhibit the neurotransmitter and make it less effective. In addition, some foods may contribute to symptoms like stress on the brain and mind.
This effect may counteract the positive effects of the amino acid GABA as well. Drugs and alcohol can also play a role in the levels of GABA in the brain.
While alcohol does not directly activate GABA, it does mimic effects. Therefore, after regular alcohol consumption, you may find that you become desensitized to the beneficial properties of GABA.
In turn, you will start showing signs of GABA deficiency even though you have adequate levels.
Besides alcohol, some drugs can inhibit GABA, contribute to reduced levels, or cause symptoms similar to low levels by making the GABA less effective.
This is true of illicit drugs that are popularly consumed, as well as many prescription medications.
Why Pick Natural Options Instead of Medications (Benzos)
Benzodiazepines are a type of medication commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and frequent, severe anxiousness. This category contains Xanax and Valium.
They work to facilitate the actions of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and bind to the GABA-A receptor. This can cause feelings of relaxation, reduce anxiety, and slow the mind and the worries that infiltrate a person’s thoughts.
Benzodiazepines are an effective option for occasional relief as part of the treatment for stress disorders. Still, some adverse side effects and downsides make natural ways to treat these problems more appealing.
This is because once they attach to the receptors, they do not increase GABA, leaving your nervous system without the amounts.
The impact of this lack of nervous system communication means hyperactive nerve cells, rebound anxiousness, worsened muscle tension, and inability to get restful sleep.
This is especially true for daily use or dependence. In fact, the negative impact could be so severe that it can lead to health issues like seizures, depression, and other mental health and mood problems.
Additionally, benzos can cause many adverse reactions, including drowsiness, intoxication, dizziness, slurred speech, muscle weakness, poor memory, learning problems, confusion, constipation, nausea, and dry mouth.
Many people complain that they have a hard time concentrating and feel cloudiness in their brains. Because of this, many people turn to natural choices to treat low levels of GABA activity instead.
Not having enough GABA can alter the body’s ability to fight stress because sufficient amounts have a calming quality.
This can cause an increase in anxiety and an imbalance with essential chemicals. Low levels can also cause sleep problems, difficulty paying attention, poor mood and mental health, and brain fog.
Research shows that GABA is essential, but many people still do not maintain effective neurotransmitter concentrations.
There are a lot of commonly used techniques to boost GABA, and you can make better lifestyle choices to avoid a decrease in production.
You can improve gut health by adding fermented foods like kimchi or kefir to your diet and getting enough Vitamin B6 to facilitate the necessary foundation to increase the amino acid.
There are also plenty of herbs and supplement options for increasing GABA concentrations in the brain. Some are designed for sleep, while others keep the mind sharp because they contain nootropics and energetic compounds.
Many people find that these are preferred over traditional drugs for relieving tension and that the boost eliminates their problems.