Remember back when your memory was as strong as a steel trap and your recall was as quick as lightning? Those were the days.
Keeping an entire shopping list in your head and not forgetting a thing? No problem! Making it to every appointment? Done, with time to spare. Mastering a new hobby? Bring it on!
Well it turns out your “teenage brain” may not be gone forever, after all. Because while brain burps and memory slips become more common as we age, you don’t have to resign yourself to simply living with them. You CAN fight back.
Because researchers have just uncovered the answer to why some folks manage to remain shark as a tack with each passing year, while their peers suffer all the indignities of age-related cognitive decline. It turns out a common chemical found in our brain called GABA could be the reason.
I’ll share with you three easy ways to raise your GABA levels in just a few moments, but first let’s take a quick look at how this compound works.
Put the brakes on brain aging
Restoring this simple neurotransmitter—that naturally declines in many of us as we age—could turn out to be the key to putting the brakes on brain aging
When researchers looked at the brains of a group of healthy older adults, they spotted something interesting. The folks who performed better on cognitive tests had more GABA in the frontal lobe regions of their brain, according to the study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.1
This is important because that’s the area of your brain that handles complex reasoning. And the new study confirms earlier research which revealed GABA’s essential role in what is known as “working” memory.2
You rely on your working memory every single day to learn new things and make decisions. And it’s your working memory that allows you to do things such as hold onto a grocery list in the back of your mind while you juggle taking a phone call and making breakfast at the same time.
In other words, GABA makes us good multitaskers.
Working memory tends to decline with age, right along with that dropping GABA. And since the two clearly work hand in hand, stopping that drop is critical to putting the brakes on brain aging. And some experts believe by boosting your GABA levels you can even help rejuvenate your memory, restoring the quick recall you once took for granted.
3 steps to stop the GABA drop
Stanford scientists are already exploring how to create drugs to boost GABA levels or function in the brain. But you may be able to slow down GABA loss and rebuild your levels naturally, with just a few simple steps instead.
Step one: Feel the burn:
I’ve told you many times before how important it is to keep your body moving, especially when the gray hair starts to set up camp on your head. Well, it turns out exercise plays a role in GABA production too. And spending too much time impersonating a potato on the couch could be contributing to faster drop in this important neurotransmitter, and the decline in memory to go with it.
But exercising increases your supply of GABA, according to researchers. And you don’t even have to spend hours at the gym every day for it to work, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.3 Study volunteers did short bursts of vigorous exercise, riding on a stationary bike anywhere from eight to 20 minutes.
Experts say less vigorous exercise, such as brisk walking, may work too and plan to study the connection more in the future.
Step two: Gobble glutamic acid
You can also support higher GABA levels by eating more foods rich in glutamic acid, which your body will then convert into the neurotransmitter.
Glutamic acid rich foods include…
- sunflower seeds
- shitake mushrooms
- broccoli raab
Step three: Seek out a supplement
There are GABA supplements available. They’re inexpensive and easy to find. However, some experts believe GABA taken this way will not cross the blood brain barrier.
So while there are other benefits of GABA supplements, such as fat burning, to be on the safe side if you want to raise the GABA levels in your brain taking GABA precursors might be a better idea. Like the glutamic acid mentioned earlier, these are nutrients your body uses to make GABA. Two to consider are l-theanine (which you’ll find in green tea too) and phenibut. You will sometimes find both as part of a more comprehensive formula for stress or anxiety relief.
Don’t stand idly by as your memory fades away. Ace your next memory test, and put the brakes on brain aging, by boosting your GABA levels starting today.
1. “Frontal Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Concentrations Are Associated With Cognitive Performance in Older Adults,” Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2017, Pages 38–44
2. “Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex GABA Concentration in Humans Predicts Working Memory Load Processing Capacity,” Journal of Neuroscience 16 November 2016, 36 (46) 11788-11794
3. “Acute Modulation of Cortical Glutamate and GABA Content by Physical Activity,” J Neurosci. 2016 Feb 24;36(8):2449-57
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