Balance: The Fountain of Youth
I’m currently writing this article as my 2 year old climbs all over me like a jungle gym. She has spent the day walking, running, jumping, exploring, and napping. Tonight she will go to bed and sleep like a log (hopefully), and wake up in the morning with a smile on her face, and just a little bit taller. Watch children learn, play, move, and sleep. They don’t sit much, they know when they need to rest, they play with endless energy, and when they sleep they sleep hard. That hard sleep is required for the secretion of Human Growth Hormone, which is repairing, and building the body up for another day of life.
As we age HGH declines, but like all hormones, it’s up to us to use it or lose it. If you are working with Elevation Fitness Training, and getting enough quality sleep, then I have no doubt your fat burning, muscle burning HGH is higher than the average American’s. If you see muscle you didn’t have before, fat that is melting away, and a clarity of mind after training, that’s your HGH in action.
How might I know if my HGH is low?
Besides sex hormones, this is the number one question asked by those wanting to feel younger. Usually I would do a blood test, but below is a telltale list of signs and symptoms that are common with low HGH. If you are a couch potato, or an an elite athlete, you may notice some of the below. Here is the key: HGH requires balance, and if you’re swinging one way too much, it will be negatively affected. Again, think of your childrens activity and their stress level, and work on trying to emulate that. I also don’t like the use of injections because they can have side effects, and really should only be used when you can’t naturally increase your levels through lifestyle.
How GH is decreased in adults:
2. High blood sugars and insulin resistance.
3. Excessive cortisol secretions (high stress) or intake of outside cortisone medications.
4. Estrogens in the environment- plastics, drugs, birth control.
6. Poor REM sleep- sleep apnea, frequent disruption, shift workers.
7. A disruption in the hormonal feedback loop in the brain (stress, nutrient deficiencies)
Sign and Symptoms of low GH:
1. Poor growth in children.
2. Poor muscle growth in adults.
3. Increased fat production.
4. Weaker bones.
5. Increased blood sugars.
6. Frequent illness.
7. Fatigue. Burnout.
8. Poor memory or learning capacity.
Nine ways to naturally increase HGH:
1. Get deep sleep. If you suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, or other sleep disorders you will produce less growth hormone. It is required that you get so many rounds of deep REM sleep to secrete GH. Think of your kids who fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep HARD. They need that to grow, and it’s still important at any age even though you will produce less as an adult. I also think of this in shift workers, and new moms. Bone loss, muscle loss, fatigue, and fat gain are common due to disrupted REM sleep.
2. Eat a clean, and lean diet. Food is the fuel for your metabolism. Eating complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats with adequate hydration will be the key factor for improving hormone status. Improving diet decreases excess sugars in the diet and insulin resistance, which is the best first way to increase growth hormone.
3. Improve testosterone (T) for men, and estrogen for women, status. When men have low testosterone they tend to notice less growth of muscle, and increased fat production, which is also true for low estrogen in women. Usually things that increase T and Estrogen will increase HGH. In men, if your waist measurement is over 40 inches, you are most likely low in T and HGH. Losing weight around the middle will increase testosterone and HGH.
4. Weight training 3-5 days per week. Heavy lifting and HIIT are known to increase HGH secretion and testosterone in men, estrogen in women. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are synergistically secreted with HGH during exercise to burn fat.
5. Fasting. Fasting is a way to stimulate GH release by keeping blood sugars down and increasing GH effects on the liver to burn excess sugars called gluconeogenesis. This could mean taking a 12 hour fast each night (so not eating from 8-8), or fasting one day per week, where only water consumption is allowed. It is part of the ketogenic theory as well, for losing fat and improving muscle growth.
6. Saunas. There must be a reason that cultures all over the world have used sweating in saunas to feel better. Not only does it release toxins stored up in the tissues, it has been shown to increase HGH, especially when taken with #7.
7. Nicotinic acid. This is a form of niacin / B3, and is a common deficiency in the population. Niacin increases nitric oxide production and helps improve HGH levels.
8. Arginine supplementation. Arginine is a precursor to HGH, so taking a 2500-5000 mg dose before bed at night can help, especially when doing heavy workouts. (Be careful with this is you have the herpes virus- make sure to balance it with lysine.)
9. Manage chronic stress with stress reduction activities such as meditation, yoga, nature outings, technology avoidance, lovemaking, and counseling. Movement outside of strenuous activity and lifting heavy weight, helps to decrease stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and will help to keep growth hormone up.
10. Backcountry Hunting. Yep, it’s true. Hunting increases HGH. Lifting heavy loads, walking long distances, increased short term bursts of stress, becoming part of nature through the cycle of life, and sleeping without artificial light, noise, and in complete darkness, improves hormonal status. Most will say they never felt younger than in those moments on the mountain. (You can read more of this in my blog - Man the Hunter: The Hormonal Fluctuations of the Hunting Experience.)
As I said before, it’s about finding balance. Balance can be the hardest step for most of us, but it is what unlocks the most powerful anti-aging drug on the planet: your own, natural, hormonal system.