So what if we drink a little in the evenings to relax? Lots of studies tell us that it can be healthy.
Well, it can be - but not if you have gut issues, and not if you are experiencing high levels of anxiety.
Initially, alcohol promotes production of GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid), a neurotransmitter that makes us feel at peace. It accomplishes this by calming down excess adrenalin and changing serotonin levels.
So having enough GABA in your brain brings on the happy and relaxed feelings, while not enough can make you feel anxious, tense, depressed and have difficulty sleeping.
1. For one hour after that first drink, our GABA levels rise! We feel sociable, relaxed, happy even!
2. An hour later, the GABA levels fall and, uh-oh, we become irritable,.
Many people skip this last stage by going to bed. But even one drink can disrupt our dream cycle - and this is what regenerates our mind! Without it, we wake up grumpy, irritable, sluggish... (and so do our livers! But that is another topic)
The net affect is that alcohol makes us MORE anxious, not less. Dang.
However, GABA production is good for us, so let's look at some ways that we can get it from food. To do this, we need foods high in the amino acid taurine.
Many people think taurine is a stimulant because its found in many sports drinks, but it isn't - it helps you to recover from high levels of adrenaline, like GABA, and has been shown to help with insomnia, depression and even mania.
Taurine is found in high concentrations in fish, eggs and meats. (Of course, assimilating this amino acid depends on strong stomach secretions so if you have weak digestion, you may want to take a digestive enzyme with HCL when eating these foods).
What if you're vegan? Google foods high in the amino acids methonine and cysteine (try this link), as your body can make taurine from them as long as you have normal levels of vitamin B6 in your body. If you are anxious/stressed, it will benefit you to be taking a vitamin B complex anyways.
My last word of advice? Try eating a banana, everyday. It contains important calming nutrients like B-vitamins, magnesium and potassium. It is an excellent prebiotic for the colon (so it feeds the bacteria in your gut that make GABA), and it is a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body needs to make serotonin, a chemical which has a calming effect on the brain as well.
There are plenty of other aids avaiable to us too. I'll get into those next week, as well as nutrients you may be missing that is preventing them from working for you.
It Takes Guts Nutrition
Katanne Belisle RHN
Gut Health Specialist
Whitehorse, YT, CAN
What Clients Are Saying
"I was plagued by a myriad of digestive and inflammatory issues and after months of discomfort I was fortunate enough to meet Katanne. Her insight, intuition, knowledge and caring attention has made it possible for me to heal and thrive with a new understanding of the food I eat. I am now healthier, happier and have more energy than I have had in quite some time. " ~ Steve T.
"Katanne gives well balanced information versed in first hand experience and research. After seeing various health professionals over the years, doing my own research, trials and tribulations, I can (say) that this is the real deal, and that what she provides people is a holistic, realistic approach to healing oneself through food" ~ Elizabeth G.