We tend to relate growing to our childhood, and aging as the end of growth. But this is not necessarily applicable to our biology. While we may not be getting any taller, we are continually growing new cells and replacing older ones.
This process is vital to bone health as well as to overall health, and one of the major players in this process is Growth Hormone, a seldom-mentioned bone mass regulator.
So today, I’m thrilled to share with you scientifically-backed information on Growth Hormone, its role in bone health, and five easy ways to naturally increase your levels.
What Is Growth Hormone?
Growth Hormone, also referred to as GH and somatotropin, is synthesized, stored, and secreted by the pituitary gland. As its name denotes, it stimulates linear growth (the common idea of growth as growing bigger and taller) in children and adolescents. But GH production continues at lower rates for the rest of our life and is involved in important biological functions, such as maintaining basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy consumed at rest), boosting the immune system through white blood cell proliferation, and inducing increased breakdown of body fat.
And most importantly for Savers, GH plays an important role in bone health. Today you’ll learn how this incredible bone-builder works and how you can naturally increase it's production.
Growth Hormone Boosts Bone Metabolism
Since GH stimulates bones to grow longer and larger in children and adolescents, it makes sense that it continues to stimulate bone growth in adults by maintaining and increasing bone density.
Bone remodeling is the process of new bone formation by osteoblasts and bone resorption by osteoclasts, the essential out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new system by which our body keeps our bones young. GH directly stimulates the proliferation of the osteoblasts that rejuvenate bones as well as boosting osteoclast activity that promotes bone resorption. The result is an increase in natural bone deposition.
Bone Remodeling And Youthful Bones
You can think about bone remodeling as you might think about remodeling your kitchen. But instead of tearing out the existing kitchen and replacing it all in just a few stress-filled weeks, you renew one kitchen cabinet at a time over and over again. Those osteoblasts and osteoclasts are like the construction workers and designers that remove your old kitchen components and build and install the new. And the GH synthesized by your pituitary gland takes on the role of construction manager, to ensure they work efficiently and continuously.
So to sum it up, it’s as though you have a kitchen that never gets old, because as soon as a pantry door or counter top starts to get a little worn, it comes up in the remodeling cycle and is replaced with a new one.
But this isn't the only way that GH makes your bones younger.
Growth Hormone And Muscle Mass
Savers know that targeted exercise improves bone health. GH stimulates collagen synthesis in your tendons and muscle growth, so that your muscle strength increases. The increased muscle mass that results makes you stronger and your bones stronger.
This was first expressed by Wolff's Law of Bone Formation, when back in 1892, the German anatomist postulated that bone is created and changed as an adaptive reaction to the force of muscular tension and the pressure of gravity imposed on it. Now that science has proven that bone is a living and active tissue, Wolff's assertion has been confirmed. Growth Hormone allows you to build the muscle needed for this crucial bone-building process.
To summarize what we've covered so far: not only is GH directly stimulating the growth of your bones, it also increases the muscle mass that’s scientifically proven to create further bone mass! As you can see, it improves your bone health from every angle.
Other Health Benefits Of Growth Hormone
Here's a quick glance at the other benefits of this all-star pituitary hormone.
- Maintains your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy your body consumes at rest1
- Causes the growth of new white blood cells, boosting the your immune system2
- Has been shown to increase the force with which the left ventricle of your heart pumps blood, helping to prevent cardiac failure3
- Creates decreased vascular resistance so that your blood is not constrained by its vessels and can flow more freely, increasing your oxygen uptake and exercise capacity4
- Helps you to heal by speeding up tissue regeneration (especially helpful for victims of severe burns and trauma)5
- Enhances healing of bone fractures6
- Reduces body fat by increasing fat breakdown, mostly by redistributing fat on abdominal regions tot he rest of the body7
- Helps prevent obesity8
- Assists in regulating cholesterol levels, reducing cholesterol in the blood9
- Promotes mental health. Studies have found that individuals with low GH are more likely to become depressed, have decreased energy levels, and a poor quality of life10
Not Enough Growth Hormone?
That's a lot of benefits from just one naturally produced hormone. Unfortunately, some people suffer from a GH deficiency, meaning that their pituitary is not producing enough to adequately accomplish all of the above. GH deficiency is a condition that occurs most commonly in children, and is present from birth. Since GH helps children to physically grow up, this is a big problem and is often treated with an injection of synthetically produced GH to replace the missing natural hormone.
The condition is extremely rare in adults and mostly occurs after major health event like a head injury, infection or radiation treatment.
However, as we age, we tend to naturally produce less GH than when we were younger. This has lead some doctors to prescribe a synthetic GH supplement.
This practice is fortunately quite uncommon and misguided, as there are plenty of ways to increase your natural GH without the dangers of a synthetic substitute.
The Dangers Of Prescribed Growth Hormone
The very first prescribed GH actually wasn't synthetically produced, but was collected from cadavers. That practice ended in 1985 because there were reported cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a brain disorder that causes dementia and death. Since then, all clinically prescribed GH is synthetically produced under the generic name somatotropin and the brand name Humatrope.
While children experiencing stunted growth may benefit from prescribed GH, the benefits certainly don’t outweigh the risks for adults.
Almost as soon as it was available, synthetic GH was abused by athletes attempting to improve their physical performance. The drug was very quickly banned as a dangerous illegal doping agent.
You've probably heard about the dangers of milk from cows treated with rBST or rBGH. Those are abbreviations for recombinant bovine somatotropin or growth hormone. The substance has been banned in many countries, but the FDA continues to allow its use in the United States.
Artificial GH is a prescription drug that is rarely if ever prescribed to adults, but that doesn't mean it isn't illegally available. There have been incredibly misguided claims that somatotropin is an anti-aging agent, but this unregulated use of the drug is clearly dangerous.
Side-Effects Of Artificial Growth Hormone
- joint swelling
- joint pain
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- increased risk of diabetes
- Hodgkin's lymphoma
Further more, by artificially increasing the amount of growth hormone in your body you can easily overdose, creating a glut of the hormone in your system. The results of this are even more drastic. Here are some of the dangers.
- Acromegaly, characterized by skin and skeletal deformities11
- Blurred or double vision, sometimes escalating to complete loss of vision12
- Dizziness and severe headaches13
- Sleep apnea14
- Insulin resistance and diabetes15
How To Naturally Increase Your Growth Hormone Production
Savers know that prescription drugs are more dangerous than useful, and GH is no exception. Here are five ways to naturally increase your body's production of GH, so you can reap its full benefits.
1. Reduce Your Sugar Intake
When you eat sugar your insulin levels rise, and insulin inhibits the release of GH in healthy humans. A great place to reduce your sugar intake is from processed foods and sugary beverages. Savers already know that these foods lead to a pH imbalance, but their sugary contents also impact your production of GH, in addition to damaging your bones.16
2. Avoid Eating Right Before Bedtime
GH release really gets going while you sleep, and if you eat just before bedtime the natural rise in blood glucose will lead to more insulin which blocks the release of GH. So make sure you plan ahead and eat your last healthy meal of the day at dinnertime, not bedtime!
3. Sleep Enough
Sleep is vitally important to your overall health and to your bones, and GH production is no exception. Your pituitary gland does its best work while you're dreaming.
4. Go To The Sauna
Fans of the bathhouse will be happy to know that a trip to the sauna can temporarily increase serum GH.17
5. Exercise On A Regular Basis
Earlier in this article I explained the benefits of GH on increasing muscle mass and how those muscles compound the bone health benefits of GH. Well, the cycle just keeps going because studies show that exercise is an incredibly potent stimulator of GH release.18 The GH released helps you build muscle strength, which in turn increases bone density.
Savers know how important exercise is for bone health. Many of you are already reaping the benefits of regular exercise targeted to increase bone density through the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System.
Knowing what exercises to do and when can be daunting, so I've taken the guess work out of working out by creating a simple and effective program that activates your body's natural systems for creating bone growth.
A regular practice of exercise, like the one provided in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System will help keep your GH levels naturally at their maximum, so you can keep stimulating bone remodeling to build a younger, healthier you!
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Never stop growing!
Till next time,
1 Stenlöf K, et al. “Effects of recombinant human growth hormone on basal metabolic rate in adults with pituitary deficiency. Metabolism.” (1995 Jan): 44(1):67-74. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7854168
2 Auernhammer CJ1, Strasburger CJ. “Effects of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor I on the immune system. Eur J Endocrinol.” (1995 Dec): 133(6):635-45. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8548046
3 Yang R1, Bunting S, Gillett N, Clark R, and Jin H. Circulation. “Growth hormone improves cardiac performance in experimental heart failure.” (1995 Jul 15): 92(2):262-7.Web https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7600659
4 Renhui Yang, Stuart Bunting, Nancy Gillett, Ross Clark and Hongkui Jin. “Growth Hormone Improves Cardiac Performance in Experimental Heart Failure.” Circulation 92(2). (1995 July 15): Web. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/92/2/262
5 D A Gilpin, et al. “Recombinant human growth hormone accelerates wound healing in children with large cutaneous burns. Annals of Surgery.” 220(1). (1994 July): 19-24. PDF. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1234282/pdf/annsurg00053-0027.pdf
6 Tran GT, et al. “Growth hormone: does it have a therapeutic role in fracture healing?” Expert Opin Investig Drugs. (2009 Jul): 18(7):887-911. doi: 10.1517/13543780902893069. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19480608
7 Bengtsson BA, et al. “Effects of growth hormone on fat mass and fat distribution.” Acta Paediatr Suppl. (1992 Sep): 383:62-5; discussion 66. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1458019
8 Kim KR, et al. “Low-dose growth hormone treatment with diet restriction accelerates body fat loss, exerts anabolic effect and improves growth hormone secretory dysfunction in obese adults.” Horm Res. 51(2). (1999): 78-84. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10352397
9 Rudling M and Angelin B. “Growth hormone reduces plasma cholesterol in LDL receptor-deficient mice.” FASEB J. 15(8). (2001 Jun):1350-6. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11387232
10 Prodam F, et al. “Quality of life, mood disturbances and psychological parameters in adult patients with GH deficiency.” Panminerva Med. 54(4). (2012 Dec): 323-31. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23123585
11 Guilherme Póvoa, et al. “Growth hormone system: skin interactions” An. Bras. Dermatol. 86(6). (2011 Nov/Dec). Web. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0365-05962011000600015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en
12 Hudson Kamau Nganga andReuben Paul Lubanga. “Pituitary macroadenoma presenting with pituitary apoplexy, acromegaly and secondary diabetes mellitus – a case report” Pan Afr Med J. 15(39). (2013): Web. 2013 May 31. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2013.15.39.2054. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779461/
13 Darendeliler F1, Karagiannis G, Wilton P. “Headache, idiopathic intracranial hypertension and slipped capital femoral epiphysis during growth hormone treatment: a safety update from the KIGS database.” Horm Res. 68 Suppl 5. (2007): 41-7. doi: 10.1159/000110474. Web. Epub 2007 Dec 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18174706
14 Gerard JM, et al. “Sleep apnea in patients receiving growth hormone.” Clin Pediatr (Phila). 36(6).(1997 Jun): 321-6. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9196230
15 Holly JM et al. “The role of growth hormone in diabetes mellitus.” J Endocrinol. 118(3). (1988 Sep): 353-64. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3053958
16 Lanzi R, et al. “Elevated insulin levels contribute to the reduced growth hormone (GH) response to GH-releasing hormone in obese subjects.” Metabolism. 48(9). (1999 Sep): 1152-6. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10484056
17 Lammintausta R, Syvälahti E, Pekkarinen A. “Change in hormones reflecting sympathetic activity in the Finnish sauna.” Ann Clin Res. 8(4). (1976 Aug): 266-71. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/999213
18 Kanaley JA. “Growth hormone, arginine and exercise.” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 11(1). (2008 Jan): 50-4.Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18090659