Anxiety disorders are very common, especially in women. Of course, it’s not just women who experience this, but women are affected more often than men. There may be many possible causes for your anxiety and there are many natural approaches that may make a difference in how you feel.
Addressing a neurotransmitter imbalance may be a good place to start looking. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers: every thought, action and emotion involves communication between brain cells triggered by neurotransmitters.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to send messages between the brain and the nervous system. Its long name is Gamma-aminobutyric acid, and it is known to have a natural calming effect on the brain and helpful in reducing feelings of anxiety and fear by decreasing neuronal excitability. It’s synthesised in the body from glutamic acid and cofactors such as magnesium, zinc and B6 are required for its synthesis and regulation.
When GABA is low there may be feelings of physical anxiety and physical tension. You might experience butterflies, feel overwhelmed or stressed and you might need a drink of wine to relax or have cravings for certain sweet foods. See the list below for further symptoms.
The foundation for good mental health requires the ability to assimilate primary raw materials. In other words efficiently absorbing and processing nutrients. Your body needs to be functioning well, so if there is any ongoing issue such as dysbiosis or candida, malabsorption problems, gluten issues, toxin overload/exposure, or a genetic predisposition may also affect the brain. Factors such as these need to be accounted for when supporting any anxiety or mood issue.
Which foods can it be found in?
GABA is found naturally in varieties of green, black, and oolong tea also in foods rich in probiotics such as fermented pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, plain kefir, coconut water kefir, yoghurt and tempeh (fermented soybeans). Adding a multi-strain probiotic to help synthesize GABA in the gut may also be an option if you are not keen on fermented products.
Some other foods containing GABA, or may boost its production in the body, include whole grains, fava beans, soy, lentils, and other beans; nuts including walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds; fish including shrimp and halibut; citrus, tomatoes, berries, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and cocoa.
Low GABA symptoms
· Anxiety and feeling overwhelmed or stressed
· Feeling worried or fearful
· Panic Attacks
· Unable to relax or loosen up
· Stiff or tense muscles
· Feeling stressed and burnt out
· Craving carbs, alcohol, or drugs for relaxation and calming
· Intrusive or repeating thoughts, overactive brain
· Inability to prioritise planned actions
· Acrophobia (fear of heights)
· Poor focus
· Rectal spasms
· Burning mouth
· Visceral pain (belly pain with IBS)
The list above was created by fellow nutritionist, Trudy Scott, she has a published book 'The Anxiety Food Solution' and is founder of The Anxiety Nutrition Institute.
If you are seeking support with anxiety or other mood issues, please book in for a no obligation discovery call here.