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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Keys to Optimizing Your Anti-Aging Hormone: Human growth hormone (HGH) provides us with many useful benefits, says Dr. Ann Lovick

Dec 31, 2012 10:56AM ● By Ann Lovick, NMD

The pituitary gland, a tiny, pea-sized gland at the base of our brain. is responsible for our youthful appearance, because it releases human growth hormone (HGH). Production peaks during our teenage years, because after that we are no longer growing and developing as much. However, we do still release it daily.

HGH helps build muscle and collagen, burn fat and regulate blood sugar. As we get older, it gets harder to build muscle and lose weight. Blood sugar fluctuations can cause erratic eating habits, weight gain and fatigue. The breakdown of collagen causes wrinkles, which can cause us to look older.

Although HGH can be supplemented in those that are truly deficient, everyone can do two simple things to enhance the body’s production of this vital hormone: exercise and sleep. A 2010 German study found that high-intensity training induced HGH secretion. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness connected a significant increase in HGH with an increase in the volume of resistance training. Basically, strenuous physical exercise stimulates the release of HGH. Furthermore, this hormone will help the body repair itself after an intense workout.

Sleep allows the body to heal itself. About one hour after you fall asleep, you release the largest amount of the anti-aging hormone. The pituitary continues to release HGH in smaller amounts throughout the night with each stage of deep sleep. A large number of people suffer from sleep deprivation; many by staying up watching TV or surfing the Internet and posting on social media. Those that go to bed after midnight miss the first and biggest release of HGH. Rough estimates show HGH releases around 10 p.m., midnight and 2 a.m. Other people try to go to bed on time, but either struggle to fall asleep or wake frequently through the night. The longer you sleep and cycle between each of the stages of sleep, the more anti-aging hormone will be released.

Sleep disruption occurs for a multitude of reasons. Stress or stimulants like caffeine or electronic devices can keep many people from falling asleep. Stress or blood sugar dysregulation can often be a reason why people wake up in the middle of the night. Hormonal imbalances, diet and lack of exercise can also disturb a good night’s sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, consult a doctor, because lack of sleep can lead to a compromised immune system, as well as numerous chronic diseases.

Human growth hormone slows the aging process and helps us feel more vibrant and alive. Ideally, you want your body to produce it naturally. Optimize this hormone by optimizing two basic cornerstones of good health: exercise and sleep.

Ann Lovick is a naturopathic physician specializing in women’s health care at Integrative Health, in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-657-0003 or visit MyIntegrativeHealth.com.

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