GABA is a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are produced in the brain that allow the nerve cells to communicate with each other. They have a lot to do with regulating the mood and the different systems of the body. There are two types of neurotransmitters - those that excite things and those that inhibit, or slow down, things. GABA falls into the category of relaxation, or inhibitory, neurotransmitters. So what is GABA, what does it do?
GABA is responsible for regulating the body's internal rhythm and responsible for relaxation and mental focus. If you have a GABA deficiency, then you might experience things in the body like:
- Arrhythmias, abnormal rhythms of the heart
- Over-excitation, in general with your moods
There are some ways that you can naturally increase your GABA production.
First, let's talk about some food things you do. You know I'm a food-as-medicine doctor! Green tea is a great way to increase the production of GABA. If you are tea drinker, load up on some green teas! There's lots of different types green teas - oolong green tea (which also helps with weight loss), rose green tea, hot green tea, cold green tea.
I recommend brewing your own green tea. Of course there are a lot of commercial green teas on the market but the most beneficial green tea is the one your brew and prepare yourself. It has the most nutritional value.
The second thing you can do is actually take the supplement L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an amino acid that stimulates GABA production in the brain as well. So you can go to your local vitamin shop, or you can order online (one of my favorite sites it www.iherb.com) and you can take the L-Theanine.
I do recommend that if you take L-Theanine, that you see your integrative medicine doctor, or holistic doctor, first and make sure there are no other contradictory indication of why you should not take it.
The third thing you can do is eat complex carbohydrates. Of course "carbohydrates" in our society has become a dirty word but carbohydrates are not bad. After we eat the carbohydrates, we stimulate the production of this relaxing neurotransmitter and it makes us want to be laid back, relaxed, and go to sleep.
So yes, you can eat carbohydrates, but here is the pitfall. We say, "Oh I'm stressed out. I'm going to go eat some pasta."You want to think about what healthy complex carbohydrates you can eat.
Beans, lentils, garbanzos, even bananas - these are carbohydrates that are good for you, rather than going to pasta or bread and eating those out of moderation. So that's where we fall into the pitfall of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are not totally bad for you, they can create a state of relaxation for you, if you do them in moderation and eat the healthy ones.
There are a couple of other foods that you can think about snacking on to help release GABA in the brain - bananas, walnuts, almonds, broccoli (so go ahead and make that broccoli and brown rice casserole), lentils, oats and other whole grains that are healthy like quinoa and brown rice.
All of these things increase GABA in the brain and there are also know to increase serotonin in the brain, too. They promote relaxation, promote an elevate (a good) mood, and they are good for you.
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