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GABA: What Is It?
Gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a chemical that’s made in the brain. This chemical is an amino acid and neurotransmitter—a brain “messenger” that carries information between neurons and other cells.
There are two types of neurotransmitters responsible for our moods: inhibitory and excitatory. Excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate our bodies and minds while inhibitory help calm our minds. In an optimal state there is a balance between these two types.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and plays a key role in how our bodies handle stress. The chemical helps calm the brain and reduces anxiousness because it elevates the production of alpha waves associated with feeling relaxed. It also lowers beta waves that lead to feelings of nervousness and a racing mind.
Low levels of GABA have been associated with sleep disturbances and frequent night awakenings. Other studies have found that reduced levels of the amino acid are linked to poor mood.
You can help raise your level of this calming chemical with your diet. GABA is naturally present in some foods, particularly fermented foods. You can find it in yogurt, some cheeses, and Korean kimchi. Foods that contain glutamine and L-theanine may also boost your levels of this brain chemical because they are GABA precursors. Good sources of foods with glutamine include bananas, grass-fed beef, and chicken, while green tea provides L-theanine.
Studies have found that the practice of yoga can also elevate levels of the brain chemical. In one study, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital tracked GABA levels in 19 subjects using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging. Eight of the participants did yoga for an hour, while 11 read during that time.
The results showed that GABA levels increased twenty-seven percent in the group that participated in the hour-long yoga session, while the group that read for an hour saw no change in their level of the chemical. The findings were published in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Our Sleep Wave includes 300 mg of GABA, along with 50 mg of L-theanine, to help calm the mind and ease stress so you can enjoy restful sleep each and every night.