GABA can help your well-being and benefits good sleep.
The neurotransmitter has a calming effect and helps you deal with the many stimuli of everyday life. IT can also help you to recharge your energy reserves. But what is GABA actually, how does it work and what are GABA’s benefits? We tell you in this article!
What is GABA?
“GABA” – sounds like a language from the universe of Star Wars. In fact, GABA is the most important calming neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.
Strictly speaking, GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid but is usually referred to as γ-aminobutyric acid. It is a so-called non-proteinogenic amino acid that can have a beneficial effect on your performance and well-being.
GABA is made from glutamate – both in the pancreas and in the brain.
Why is it produced in two places in the body?
GABA can not cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore can not enter the brain from outside. For this reason, it is not enough if only the pancreas produces GABA. The brain must also form GABA in order to work there. But what benefits are GABA specifically attributed to and how does it affect your everyday life?
Benefits of GABA
Generally one can say that GABA has different effects. For example, GABA may have beneficial effects on growth hormone (HGH).
HGH is particularly important for athletes as they are among the muscle building hormones of the human body. Growth hormones can reduce body fat and stimulate muscle growth. GABA works on certain neuronal chains that stimulate the hypothalamus to release more growth hormones. Therefore, GABA benefits HGH production.
Most important, however, is the calming effect of GABA as a neurotransmitter. Because it can be relaxing and calming, GABA is one of the natural anti-stress remedies or the best natural remedy for mental relaxation.
Where does the mental relaxing effect of GABA come from?
Quite simply: Information processing in the brain is based on the fact that nerve cells are in contact with each other via synapses.
And this is where GABA comes in: GABA ensures that the stimuli that arrive in the nervous system are slowed down or not transported at all.
Basically, GABA inhibits precisely the signals that are triggered by stress reactions and want to reach the motor centers of the brain. The benefit of GABA on the brain is that it relaxes thoughts and contributes to inner balance.
Take-home message # 1: GABA not only has a beneficial effect on muscle growth but as a neurotransmitter, it can also have a calming effect on your nervous system. GABA is produced from glutamate in the brain and in the pancreas. In your brain, GABA slows and stops the transmission of stimuli, allowing your body to relax and recharge its energy reserves.
GABA Benefits for Sleep
Those who are permanently distracted by internal and external impulses and confronted with an overabundance of information quickly suffer from overstimulation.
The body does not rest anymore. Stressful situations and excessive demands eventually lead to a lack of concentration, nervousness or difficulty sleeping. In such cases, the benefits of GABA are particularly interesting because it can help you regain your sleep and your inner balance.
GABA is the most abundant neurotransmitter in your brain, accounting for about 30%. Therefore, it is not surprising that your sleep and relaxation mainly depends on the inhibitory function of GABA. How is this related?
As described earlier, GABA can have an inhibitory and calming effect on the synapses in the brain, as it prevents stress signals from reaching the motor centers of the brain. Restful sleep is essential for you to be able to mentally get started the next day.
So if you’re lying in bed in the evening and want to sleep, GABA can have benefits and help you switch off. In the evening, you may fall asleep faster and experience a calmer night altogether.
Serotonin plays an important role in the efficacy and synthesis of GABA. Serotonin is your happiness hormone and largely responsible for GABA production in the brain.
In addition, serotonin also increases the affinity of GABA receptors. For your sleep, a serotonin deficiency could, therefore, be twice as unfavorable, because firstly, too little serotonin leads to a lower activity of GABA and secondly, a serotonin deficiency is also associated with reduced production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Take-Home-Message # 2: According to scientific studies, GABA has two main benefits, it can relieve stress symptoms and help you fall asleep. Also, make sure that you do not expose yourself to artificial, blue light more than one hour before you go to bed (radiates from displays, for example). How do you promote the natural production of melatonin in your body? Even a consistently darkened and well-ventilated environment can improve the quality of sleep.
If your body does not calm down due to too much stimulation, it may be a sign that your GABA levels are low. The following symptoms also give rise to such a suspicion:
- sleep and sleep difficulties
- increased blood pressure
- muscle tension and cramps
- increased stress sensation
- increased sensitivity to pain
Many people try to eliminate the deficiency in their body with GABA capsules and to ensure a more relaxed and balanced daily routine.
Efficient is supplementation with substances that stimulate and stimulate GABA production in the body. According to scientific findings, this includes the happiness hormone serotonin, which has a significant influence on GABA synthesis. For the body to release serotonin, it requires the precursor L-tryptophan.
Take Home Message # 3: High blood pressure and difficulty sleeping – all these can be symptoms of GABA deficiency. To compensate for this, you should take precursors of GABA, which can then be converted into the valuable amino acid in the brain. A permanently balanced GABA level can help you to master everyday life in a more relaxed way.
First off: Taking GABA in tablet or capsule form is not something for everyone. Questions like “How many grams of GABA should I take?” Or “How much GABA is correct?” Are often asked by people who want to improve their sleep and relaxation.
Those who take pure GABA in powder or capsule form generally have other goals than to boost their metabolism and build muscle. When you give your body the substances that it needs to produce GABA in the brain, like glutamate or the previously mentioned L-tryptophan, you will have a beneficial effect on your sleep.
Glutamate is a normal food ingredient and you should take about 10 grams of it daily. In a balanced and healthy diet, this is usually the case anyway.
Take-home message # 4: A precursor of GABA is glutamate. In the brain and in the pancreas, it is transformed and thus contributes to a relaxed sleep. Glutamate occurs naturally in many foods. With a balanced diet, you have a deficiency. Serotonin also has a strong influence on GABA production. Taking L-tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin) can increase your GABA levels.
Foods for GABA
Whether cheese, milk or nuts: very many foods contain glutamate. In protein-rich food, the amino acid is found in particularly large quantities.
Glutamate increases the natural taste of food in higher concentrations. It is produced in isolation and added to foods as a flavor enhancer. Unnaturally high levels of glutamate are often found in semi-prepared foods such as in instant soups or instant noodles. You should only eat small quantities of such foods if you want to have a healthy diet.
A handful of nuts are definitely the better choice to give your brain the glutamate you need to push your GABA budget. Here we have listed for you some foods that naturally have a very high content of glutamate. Indicated is the total glutamate content:
- Parmesan cheese (6,500 mg / 100 g)
- Walnuts (3400 mg / 100 g)
- Chicken egg (1400 mg / 100 g)
- Tomatoes (420 mg / 100 g)
- Green beans (340 mg / 100 g)
Take-Home-Message # 5: Glutamate enhances taste as a natural food ingredient. It can also be extracted and artificially added to products as flavor enhancers.
Conclusion: GABA Benefits
GABA is essential for all of us. Taking it as a supplement doesn’t make much sense since it is not able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
To ensure adequate GABA supply, you should make sure you get enough glutamate from your diet.
Do sleep and nutrition already play a big role in your life? Optimal!