The neurochemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is used by the body to reduce stress, improve sleep, and is indirectly involved in the bone remodeling process by regulating osteogenic differentiation, helping to increase the number of osteoblasts (bone-building cells).
However, some people don't produce enough of it– and production tends to decline with age. As Savers know, improved sleep, less stress, and more osteoblasts greatly help to improve bone health.
Today you'll learn about this neurochemical and how you can increase your GABA levels naturally.
All About GABA
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurochemical produced in the brain. It reduces the ability of cells in the nervous system to send and receive messages. This signal inhibition is essential for maintaining neurological functioning.
GABA inhibits neural signals to prevent your nervous system and your brain from getting overwhelmed by information. By reducing the signal strength of neural messages, GABA gives your brain time to process the information delivered by the nervous system.
Not only does this give you the ability to grasp what's going on around you, but it reduces stress. GABA helps you to remain calm, even when you're confronted with a variety of stimuli.
Dysregulation of GABA production is implicated in conditions such as major depression, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorder.1
Healthy levels of GABA confer health benefits including:
- Higher quality sleep
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved mental focus
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurochemical that inhibits signals in the nervous system to prevent your brain from getting overwhelmed by information. Dysregulation of GABA production is linked to conditions like schizophrenia and depression, but healthy levels improve sleep, reduce stress, and improve focus.
Five Ways To Ensure Healthy GABA Levels
You can increase your levels of GABA using a few simple, natural strategies. Like most genuinely healthy choices, each of these behaviors provides numerous additional benefits– including for your bones.
Try out one or all of these five strategies to attain the calming benefits of GABA.
GABA is found in a variety of healthy foods, many of which are also bone-building Foundation Foods. They include:
- Brussels sprouts*
- Sweet potatoes*
- Shiitake mushrooms*
- White tea
- Adzuki beans
- Lupini beans
- Brown rice*
Certain fermented foods can help your body to synthesize GABA. They include:
- Raw sauerkraut
The mineral magnesium can activate some GABA receptors, serving the same function as the neurochemical. As a result, supplementation with magnesium can help alleviate the symptoms caused by low GABA levels and confers some of the same benefits, such as improved sleep.2
Magnesium is one of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program‘s Foundation Supplements. It's a primary component of bone, and deficiencies have been linked to low bone density and increased fracture risk.3
The Save Institute recommends taking 400 mg of amino-acid-chelated magnesium daily.
3. GABA Supplementation
It is possible to supplement your body's natural GABA production. GABA can be grown in a natural fermentation process and added to a supplement, though there is some disagreement over the body's ability to absorb and use this GABA. The Save Institute recommends taking no more than 800mg per day of a GABA supplement.
Additionally or alternatively, you can supplement with compounds used in GABA production to ensure your body has everything it needs to produce the neurochemical. Compounds to supplement for increased GABA production include:
One study found that people who meditated for a 60-minute session experienced a significant increase in the period of reduced neuron activity in the brain caused by GABA.4
This effect is one of the reasons why meditation can help reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and build the capacity for inner peace. These benefits also support bone health, in part by reducing the bone-damaging stress hormone cortisol.
5. Exercise & Yoga
Regular exercise is a great way to increase GABA levels. Yoga has been shown to be particularly effective at boosting GABA. Multiple studies have found that participants who engaged in a regular yoga practice had higher GABA levels than those who did not.5
Animal studies have found that exercise not only creates a short-term increase in GABA but can improve the brain's ability to produce GABA. That outcome suggests that exercise could help offset the age-related decline in GABA production.6
For Savers, these GABA-related benefits of exercise simply compound the bone benefits of a regular workout routine. Weight-bearing exercise directly stimulates the production of new bone mass.
To increase GABA levels try eating GABA-rich foods (listed above), supplementing with magnesium, taking a GABA supplement, taking a supplement that supports GABA production, meditating, yoga, and regular exercise.
What This Means To You
Make choices that support your neurological health. A diet that includes GABA-increasing foods, regular exercise, and calming meditation can boost your GABA levels. These interventions will also benefit your mental health and bone health.
If you want help starting your exercise, yoga, or meditation practice try SaveTrainer. SaveTrainer is the Save Institute's online video workout platform. Our professional trainers provide classes suitable for every ability level– and with such a wide variety of programs to choose from you're sure to find the routine that keeps you coming back for more.
Find your inner calm to live a healthier, happier life. The strategies you learned today will help!