What is Human Growth Hormone (HGH)?
Our bodies produce Human Growth Hormone (HGH) naturally in the pituitary gland. Human growth hormone (HGH) is one of the most important hormones for sustained growth for both children as well as adults. HGH helps to stimulate protein synthesis, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism (3), aids in body fluid homeostasis (2) and promotes muscle and bone growth.
Our Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels naturally decline as we age, which makes it harder to maintain muscle mass and keep off excess weight. Since HGH promotes lean tissue and mobilizes fat for energy, it has the appearance of being a so-called “fountain of youth”.
Can Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Be Increased Naturally?
Low HGH levels can negatively impact your quality of life by increasing your risk of disease. Optimal levels of this important hormone are especially critical during weight loss, for recovery from injury and when trying to boost athletic performance. Many people are unaware that diet and lifestyle choices can make a big difference in your Human Growth Hormone levels. Check out the tips below to learn how to naturally increase your HGH levels safe and effectively.
Making Better Lifestyle Choices
The top of the list for increasing your HGH levels is simply getting enough sleep! During the first hour of sleep, your body releases a large quantity of HGH. I am sure you are well aware that sleep is necessary to properly function. Sleep deprived people end up having low energy levels, compromised brain function and also lower levels of HGH. The Centre for Disease Control has established that most people require 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night to function at maximum efficiency.
Another lifestyle change that can be made to naturally increase HGH is getting an appropriate amount of exercise regularly. However, in terms of increasing HGH, not all exercise is created equal. The best way to naturally boost your HGH is with intense exercise or in other words with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Your HIIT training program can include any kind of sprint intervals (i.e. bike or run) or resistance training in any combination that works for you. When you do intense exercise at regular intervals it will promote higher levels of HGH. Don’t forget, however, that it is just as important to follow with brief recovery periods as that will also help your body to produce higher levels of HGH. You will need to rest for about 60 seconds between the high-intensity sets to help stimulate the HGH secretion.
Endurance exercise while great for the cardiovascular system (so it still needs to be done) does not help increase HGH. The reason for this is that while initially, it will boost HGH secretions the body will adapt to the imposed demand of endurance exercise. As the body adapts to the workout, HGH levels will diminish, generally, the adaptation process will take about 3 weeks.
Researchers studied obese patients and found that they typically have lower levels of ghrelin in their blood so consequently lower HGH levels as well (5). They hypothesized this may be in part happen because HGH is directly regulated by ghrelin. The lower levels of ghrelin, and therefore HGH, makes it more difficult to lose body fat because their appetite, eating behaviour and energy balance are all directly affected by the reduction of these important hormones. Excess body fat suppresses HGH secretion so it goes without saying, decreasing body fat and increasing lean mass will naturally increase HGH levels.
Sadly for some people, alcohol suppresses the release of HGH during sleep. So it goes without saying that avoiding alcohol would be an important component of naturally increasing your human growth hormone levels. According to a study published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1980, HGH levels dropped by as much as 75% as subject slept after consuming just ONE, yes one alcoholic beverage (6).
Nutritional Support for HGH Secretion
Food is what fuels us in life and what we choose to put into our bodies can significantly affect how our body develops. Nutrition can, of course, influence how we produce HGH. The foods we consume will either increase our HGH secretion or send it spiraling down.
Diets rich in the wrong type of carbohydrates have been shown to significantly decrease HGH secretion. According to a study published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1976, men who got 80 % of their calories from carbohydrates saw a significant drop in their HGH levels (7). Compared with men who followed a diet that was 40 % carbohydrates, 40 % fat and 20 % protein. They were able to sustain normal HGH levels (7).
Researchers published a study in 2012 in Growth Hormone and IGF Research with findings that specific macro and micro nutrients increase HGH (8). Food specifically high in vitamin C including citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli, bell peppers, leafy green vegetables and tomatoes were especially helpful with promoting HGH release. Also included in the study and shown to be beneficial were all plant-based foods provide dietary fiber, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Dried beans, peas and lentils are especially rich in fiber.
The amino acid Arginine has also been shown to increase the release of HGH. Most people get plenty of this essential nutrient through the consumption of protein sources such as meat, however, it should be noted that nuts, seeds and beans are also extremely good sources of Arginine.
The Uses and Abuses of Synthetic HGH
During the early part of last century, physicians and researchers were using in bovine and porcine to treat children with a severe growth deficiency(4). HGH wasn’t available in its synthetic form until the 1980’s for use in children and adults(4). Many current uses for this synthetic form of HGH are not FDA-approved. In 1989 the International Olympic Committee became the first to ban human growth in sports. Some people use the hormone, along with other performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids in an attempt to build muscle and improve athletic performance. HGH’s effect on athletic performance is unknown.
Health professionals such as a Naturopath, family physician or endocrinologist should be prescribing and monitoring any intake of synthetic Human Growth Hormone to ensure your aren’t doing irreparable damage to your internal organs. So do not consider this type of HGH replacement without the proper medical care.
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- Ho K.Y. · Kelly J.J. Role of Growth Hormone in Fluid Homeostasis. Horm Res 1991;36:44–48 (DOI:10.1159/000182188)
- Shin-Hye Kim, MD, PhD, Mi-Jung Park, MD, PhD Annals of Pediatric Endocrinol Metabolism. 2017 Sep; 22(3): 145–152.Published online 2017 Sep 28. doi: 10.6065/apem.2017.22.3.145
- Vageesh S. Ayyar.Indian Journal Endocrinol Metabolism. 2011 Sep; 15(Suppl3): S162–S165.doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.84852
- Ralf Nass, Bruce D. Gaylinn, and Michael O. Thorner. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Jun 20; 340(1): 10–14. Published online 2011 Apr 1. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.03.021
- Prinz PN, Roehrs TA, Vitaliano PP, Linnoila M, Weitzman ED. Effect of alcohol on sleep and nighttime plasma growth hormone and cortisol concentrations. 1980 Oct;51(4):759-64. PMID:7419664 DOI:10.1210/ jcem-51-4-759
- Merimee TJ, Pulkkinen AJ, Burton CE. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1976 May;42(5):931-7.PMID:773953 DOI:10.1210/jcem-42-5-931
- S. Denny-Brown, T.L. Stanley, S.K. Grinspoon, and H. Makimura. The Association of Macro- and Micronutrient Intake with Growth Hormone Secretion Growth Hormone and IGF Research 2012 Jun-Aug; 22(0): 102–107.