Today, I would like to introduce you to a slightly unfamiliar ingredient called‘GABA.’ GABA is a neurotransmitter present in the central nervous system. It suppresses the excitement of nerve cells, helps the brain function normally, stabilizes the mind, and induces a good night's sleep. It was found that people who suffer from insomnia have lower GABA levels in their bodies compared to the general population.
It is possible to consume GABA through food. It can be consumed through foods such as barley sprouts and Cudrania leaves. Recently, fermented GABA extracted from kimchi lactic acid bacteria has appeared in Korea to complement the shortcomings of synthetic GABA. Now, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of consuming GABA through research papers.
1. Reduces Sleep Delays
A typical symptom of insomnia is taking too long to fall asleep. Even if you go to bed early, if you have a sleep delay that prevents you from falling asleep until dawn, your sleep efficiency will inevitably drop.
In relation to this, a paper was published in the Journal of Clinical Neurology in 2018 showing that sleep delay was reduced when GABA was consumed in patients with insomnia symptoms.
“After 4 weeks of treatment, sleep delay and sleep efficiency increased only in the GABA treatment group.”
Reference : Byun, Jung-Ick, et al. "Safety and efficacy of gamma-aminobutyric acid from fermented rice germ in patients with insomnia symptoms: a randomized, double-blind trial." Journal of Clinical Neurology 14.3 (2018): 291-295.
2. Increases Non-REM Sleep Time
Sleep time can be broadly divided into REM sleep time and non-REM sleep time. REM sleep is a light sleep that is close to waking, and this is when you primarily dream. Non-REM sleep is a deep sleep stage in which heart rate and breathing slow and muscles relax. Since both the brain and body rest during non-REM sleep, it is necessary to secure this time reliably.
In relation to this, a paper was published in Food Science and Biotechnology in 2016 showing that consuming GABA increased non-REM sleep time.
“In addition to reducing sleep latency, GABA significantly increased total non-REM sleep time by 2.2%. (omitted) In particular, it was early in sleep, and the time until the first REM sleep, which consists of light and deep non-REM sleep, was longer in the GABA group compared to the placebo group.”
Reference : Yamatsu, Atsushi, et al. "Effect of oral γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration on sleep and its absorption in humans." Food science and biotechnology 25.2 (2016): 547-551.
3. Relieves Psychological Stress
You may have had difficulty concentrating due to psychological stress when you had an important exam or presentation. If stress is moderate, it increases concentration and improves work efficiency, but too much stress increases anxiety and leads to poor work performance.
In relation to this, a paper published in Amino Acids in 2012 reported that the stress caused by mental tasks was alleviated when GABA was consumed.
“The results showed that brain wave (EGG) activity, including alpha and beta waves, decreased depending on the mental stress workload, and 30 minutes after GABA intake showed a smaller decrease compared to the placebo condition. In other words, GABA may have alleviated stress caused by mental tasks. This effect is also consistent with the Profile of Mood States (POMS) score results."
Reference : Yoto, A., Murao, S., Motoki, M., Yokoyama, Y., Horie, N., Takeshima, K., Masuda, K., Kim, M., & Yokogoshi, H. (2012). Oral intake of γ-aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. Amino acids, 43(3), 1331–1337.988-995.
Today we looked at the effects of consuming GABA. These days, there are many people suffering from insomnia. If insomnia is interfering with your daily life, we recommend that you visit a hospital and receive appropriate treatment. Additionally, if you maintain regular sleep and wake-up times every day, exercise regularly, and create regular habits before going to bed, your sleep quality will improve again.
I hope you have a healthy day both physically and mentally. This was Jinny.