A few health benefits of eating foods rich in GABA may be stress relief, quality sleep, lower blood pressure, lower blood glucose levels, increased muscle mass, and weight loss! Also, we need to get enough vitamin B6, zinc, and magnesium from food, in order, to boost GABA levels.
GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid) is a chemical that the human body can synthesize. It’s produced by the nervous system and the insulin-producing beta-cells of the pancreas. In most cases, healthy people produce enough GABA. Also, we can get it from food or supplements.
It mainly acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA blocks or regulates certain brain signals. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and the spinal cord.
Health benefits of GABA
GABA has many amazing health benefits. Above all, GABA may relieve from stress, anxiety, and improve your mood. Moreover, it seems to regulate the circadian rhythm, enhance memory, and improve night sleep quality.
A daily dose of 100-300 mg of GABA seems to be enough for helping you with insomnia. For better results, you could eat lots of foods rich in melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps you sleep better at night, and enhances the action of GABA.
Another health benefit of GABA is that it can significantly decrease high blood pressure. Consuming foods rich in GABA may be a pretty safe way to regulate or prevent the development of hypertension without any adverse effects.
Furthermore, GABA might relieve you from migraines or headaches. Brain GABA levels are significantly higher in people with migraine, indicating a change in brain chemistry. It can modulate pain.
Moreover, GABA seems to be beneficial for athletes and physically active people. GABA may help athletes recovery faster after exercise, and build more muscle mass, as it seems to increase the amount of the Human Growth Hormone!
Last, but not least, GABA seems to play a key role in diet-induced obesity. It regulates food intake and can help us control body weight. Hence, GABA might help overweight people lose weight. After all, GABA improves insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for weight loss. Additionally, following a high-fat diet, not only increases the risk of obesity, but also may lead to low levels of GABA! A high-fat diet disturbs the metabolism of glutamate, which is crucial for the synthesis of GABA.[10,11]
How much GABA do we need a day?
There isn’t a recommended daily dosage for GABA. Most studies have used a dose of 100-300 mg of GABA. Actually, daily doses up to 800 mg are considered pretty safe for most people.
Certainly, you should consult your health care provider before taking any supplement.
Foods high in GABA
Actually, plants are the richest foods in GABA.
First, spinach is considered to be among the richest foods in GABA. It contains about 414 nmol/g of GABA (dry weight). Spinach is among the best foods you can eat for losing weight and particularly belly fat!
Beans such as Lupin, soy, and pea beans are also good dietary sources. Especially, fermented soy products, such as tempeh and miso are particularly rich in GABA.
Grains, such as oats, wheat, barley, buckwheat, and rice are high in GABA as well.
Additionally, certain mushrooms, such as shiitake, are naturally high in GABA.
Moreover, tomato, potato, sweet potato, kale, broccoli, celery, chestnuts, and valerian are other common foods rich in GABA.
Last, but not least, if you want to naturally boost your daily intake of GABA, you should consume chlorella. Chlorella is particularly high in GABA. Actually, 100g of chlorella contains 500 mg of GABA. Practically, 1 small chlorella tablet contains about 1 mg of GABA. According to a study, participants improved their high blood pressure, taking a daily dose of 20 mg of GABA from chlorella a day!
Foods which boost GABA synthesis
We need to get enough glutamate, vitamin B6, zinc, and magnesium, in order, to have high GABA levels.
Foods rich in Glutamate
GABA is produced by the human body from glutamate. Glutamate is a non-essential amino acid. Actually, we can synthesize it. Furthermore, we can get high amounts from our diet.
First, foods from animal sources, such as meat, fish, egg, and dairy are high in glutamate.
Wheat, tomato, soy, mushrooms, spinach, and instant coffee powder are only a few plant-based foods rich in glutamate.
Foods rich in vitamin B6
Additionally, the body needs vitamin B6 as a cofactor to synthesize GABA.
Common foods rich in vitamin B6 are pistachio nuts, sunflower nuts, chickpeas, walnuts, flaxseeds, banana, peanuts, potatoes, avocado, and peppers. Furthermore, vitamin B6 helps us lose body weight.
Eat foods high in zinc for higher GABA levels!
Moreover, we should consume adequate amounts of zinc, as zinc regulates the release of GABA. The recommended daily dose is only 11 mg. Oats, beans, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds are only a few foods containing high amounts of zinc.
Keep in mind that zinc deficiency is pretty common. Especially, men may benefit from taking zinc supplements.
Magnesium affects GABA levels
Common foods rich in magnesium are pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and oats.