Have you ever felt you look older than your age, or you’re losing the ability to build and maintain muscles? If yes, you may be deficient in human growth hormone (HGH), also called natural growth hormone. Your HGH levels start dropping as you reach the age of 30 because this is the age when you enter “somatopause.”
Since human growth hormone is produced naturally in your body, it is possible to boost its production to maintain overall health and fitness. Before we talk about boosting your natural growth hormone levels, let’s have a brief overview of HGH first and what it does.
What Is Human Growth Hormone?
Also known as somatotropin, HGH is one of the most important predictors of your overall health. The somatotropic cells of the pituitary gland synthesize HGH and release it into the bloodstream. In general, HGH is the hormone that helps your body grow!
HGH is one of the potent regulators of metabolic, immune, and cell and tissue repair mechanisms. Healthy body composition, bone density, and muscle-building functions are some vital functions of the HGH. Natural HGH also promotes growth and development in children and teenagers. HGH is crucial during athletic training, injury recovery, and weight loss [1,2].
HGH is responsible for regulating many bodily functions, including:
- Promoting nail and hair growth
- Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
- Increased sexual charge
- More muscle mass and endurance
- Protection of organs from age-related depreciation
- Reduction in fat accumulation
- Improved circulation
- Strong bone density
The pituitary gland secretes HGH in response to different stimuli, such as food intake, sleep, and exercise. HGH works by activating different processes by interacting with specific receptors. For instance, HGH prompts the Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) to be produced in liver cells, which the body takes up to synthesize proteins and initiate repair .
What Happens When You Have Low HGH Levels?
Natural growth hormone levels are maximum during adolescence because the body requires growth during the teenage years. When you reach your 20s, HGH levels start declining gradually. As HGH levels drop off with the aging process, your bone mineral density reduces, your body starts adding more fat, your muscles become weaker, and your lean body mass decreases. Unhealthy lifestyle choices and a poor diet also affect your HGH levels .
When your pituitary gland stops producing natural growth hormone, it leads to a condition called Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) that causes reduced development of facial bones and a slow growth rate. Acromegaly refers to a characteristic condition in which your body produces excess HGH, which causes enlarged hands and feet.
Levels of HGH may also become lower if you have had a pituitary tumor or brain injury in the past.
Top Signs You’re Low in Natural Growth Hormone:
Even if you’re an adult, you still need natural growth hormones for a healthy body. How your body collects fats is greatly influenced by HGH. Also, the ratio of high density to low-density lipoproteins, healthy muscle mass, bone density, and normal brain function are some vital attributes of HGH.
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
- Lean body mass (less muscle)
- A feeling of being isolated from other people
- Obesity/ generalized weight gain
- Using corticosteroids
- Tendency to have more bone fractures
- Elevated triglyceride levels
- Fat gain around “love handles.”
- Loss of muscle tone in arms and legs
- Sleep apnea
- Dry or sagging skin
- Decreased libido
- Less stamina and strength
- Thinning of the skin
- Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
- Anxiety and depression
- Andropause (men), menopause (women)
- Deficient energy levels
- Insulin resistance
If you have more than seven of the above-mentioned signs, you should boost your HGH levels.
Top 10 Evidence-Based Ways to Boost Your Natural Growth Hormone:
Boosting your HGH levels through artificial ways may carry potential risks. We have compiled some natural ways, backed by credible research, to enhance your body’s ability to boost natural growth hormones. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Reduce Your Sugar Intake:
Low HGH production has been associated with increased insulin production. Processed foods and refined sugars elevate your insulin levels that dictate your natural growth hormone secretion. If you want to optimize HGH production, you must have to lower your insulin levels.
According to a study, when healthy people and people with insulin problems like impaired insulin function or diabetes were compared for their HGH levels, healthy people had 3-4 times higher natural growth hormone production .
- Avoid Sweet Drinks: Sweet drinks and refined sugars are your body’s worst enemies because they not only contribute to increased insulin levels but also cause obesity, which can also affect HGH production. Therefore, avoiding sodas and sweetened beverages can keep your insulin levels at bay.
- Eat Your Meals 2 Hours Before Bed: It has also been reported that your insulin levels spike immediately after you eat a meal. They go back to their normal levels after 2-3 hours. Studies have also reported that the activity of natural growth hormone is inhibited when you eat a high protein meal before bedtime . Try to avoid midnight snacks because we all know that they spike insulin levels.
2. Lose Some Body Fat:
Deficient production of growth hormone is linked to excess body fat. Excess body fat, including central and visceral fat, also increases your risk of developing growth hormone deficiency (GHD). One study reported that people with three times more belly fat than the control group had only half of their growth hormone levels .
Your growth hormone levels will be optimized if you keep your body fat to lower ranges like 15%, and this can be achieved by managing your calories. Avoiding sweet treats and high-sugar meals at night can help you get rid of excess body fat. According to a study, a significant boost in growth hormone was linked with losing fat around the abdominal area .
Surprisingly, men with excess body fat had more reduced levels of HGH than women. However, both sexes can boost their HGH levels after shedding some pounds .
What’s more, belly fat has also been linked with many health complications. Research suggests that obese people have very low levels of natural growth hormone and IGF-1. Their HGH levels returned to normal after losing a significant amount of weight .
3. Try Intermittent Fasting (IF):
A significant increase in growth hormone levels has been linked with intermittent fasting. One study has reported that fasting for 3 days boosts your HGH levels by 300%. Fasting for one week leads to a massive increase in HGH levels by 1250% . Results replicated from other studies have also reported the effects of fasting intermittently for 2-3 days on increased HGH levels .
Intermittent fasting is a very popular method of losing weight these days. There are many methods of intermittent fasting involving eating only 500 calories two days per week or eating in 8 hours only while fasting for 16 hours.
- Short-Term Effects Of IF: Since high insulin levels lower the production of natural growth hormone. In the short term, intermittent fasting lowers your insulin levels, which in turn boosts your HGH production .
- Long-Term Effects Of IF: Intermittent fasting helps you drop body fat that speeds up the production of natural growth hormone for the long term .
However, intermittent fasting is not sustainable if tried continuously. Hence finding the right balance between when to fast and when to eat is very important.
4. Optimize Your Sleep:
The production of growth hormone is greatly influenced by circadian rhythm, aka your body’s internal clock. HGH levels peak when you’re asleep. HGH levels are the highest during midnight, and then they are released in “weak pulses” before the early morning. To get the best of increased HGH levels, you should sleep two hours before midnight. Studies have also shown that your growth hormone levels start to increase after one hour of sleep .
Link Between HGH And Sleep Cycles: There are two phases of the human sleep cycle:
- Non-REM (NREM) Sleep: During this phase, high levels of hormones are released. The NREM phase is categorized into four stages: stage 01, stage 02, stage 03, and stage 04. HGH production is the highest during stages 03 and 04, also called Slow Wave Sleep (SWS).
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep: This phase starts half an hour after you fall asleep. The REM phase only lasts for an hour and includes a lot of brain activity and vivid dreams.
Many studies have reported that long-term optimization of growth hormones can be achieved by getting adequate deep sleep .
How Can You Optimize Your Sleep?
To make the most of growth hormone levels, here are a few tips to optimize your sleep:
- Do not drink coffee late in the day.
- Read a book before going to sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is well-ventilated and comfortable.
- Do not use your phone and computer before bedtime.
- Avoid blue light exposure too.
5. Add Intensity to Your Exercise:
You can increase your HGH levels through all forms of exercise, but high-intensity workouts can attain significant boosts of HGH levels because of the increased lactic acid and the metabolic nature of the exercise. Food intake and type and intensity of exercise impact the production of natural growth hormones.
You can maximize fat loss and spike your growth hormone levels by training in a circuit, weight, interval, and repeated sprints. If you’re doing workouts and taking supplements, they will boost your HGH levels for the short term. In the long-term, high-intensity exercise will boost your HGH levels, decrease body fat, and optimize hormone function .
6. Take A GABA Supplement:
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) supplement has been shown to boost natural growth hormone levels. This non-protein amino acid sends signals to your brain by acting as a neurotransmitter. GABA optimizes your HGH levels and induces a calming effect on your brain, and helps you fall asleep.
One study found that GABA supplements increased HGH production by 200% following exercise and a 400% increase at rest .
Another study reported that a GABA supplement could improve sleep quality and depth by increasing HGH levels because growth hormone is at peak during the nighttime .
Only 3 grams of GABA supplement is enough to boost growth hormone production. You can take the supplement before bed, before a workout, and post-workout.
You can also get GABA from the following natural sources: potatoes, oats, lentils, whole wheat, beef liver, rice bran, bananas, walnuts, almonds, spinach, and oranges.
7. Take A Sports Drink During the Workout:
There are many sports supplements available to boost the HGH levels temporarily. According to a study, taking 4.8 grams of beta-alanine before a workout increased growth hormone production and increased workout performance .
Another study found that drinking a sugary drink before a workout increases HGH levels throughout the workout. Also, evidence shows that you can achieve high levels of growth hormone by drinking protein shakes around workouts .
8. Try A Melatonin Supplement:
You might have heard of the melatonin supplement that regulates blood pressure and sleep cycles. Enhanced growth hormone production associated with longer and deeper sleep has been linked with melatonin supplementation. You can achieve high melatonin secretion in the night by eating melatonin-rich foods, such as:
- Mustard seeds
Although melatonin is non-toxic and completely safe, you should consult your doctor before using the supplements because melatonin sometimes may alter your brain chemistry.
Studies have shown that you can boost your growth hormone levels by only a little melatonin supplementation. To achieve maximum results, you should start with 1-5mg of melatonin supplement before bed .
9. Try an Arginine Supplement:
When taken alone, arginine improves the production of growth hormones. Arginine is an amino acid that maximizes the HGH production when taken before bed. Taken at other times, it does not have much impact on HGH.
Many studies report that there is little or no increase in growth hormone production when arginine is taken alongside exercise. However, if taken alone, arginine significantly boosts the growth hormone levels .
One study was conducted to evaluate the effects of arginine on the production of growth hormones. Those participants who took the higher dose of arginine (15-20 grams) experienced an increase in HGH levels by 60% during sleep. This is equivalent to 45-114 mg per pound of their body weight. Those who took 6-10 grams per day did not experience any increase in HGH levels .
Some natural sources of arginine include soybeans, brown rice, nuts, red meat, chicken, and seeds.
10. You Can Also Try Some Other Natural Supplements:
Some natural supplements have also been studied to boost growth hormone production. They include:
- Glutamine: This potent amino acid can enhance HGH production even at small doses. According to a study, secretion of HGH has been reported to boost by 78% with just 2 mg of glutamine . Foods rich in glutamine include:
- Greek yogurt
- Ornithine: Ornithine supplement is usually taken to increase muscle mass and protein synthesis. In one study, participants were given an ornithine supplement about half an hour after a workout. Participants experienced a greater peak in growth hormone levels . Ornithine-rich foods include:
- Glycine: Glycine has been shown to boost the growth hormone levels temporarily . Some glycine-rich foods include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red meats
- Canned fish
- L-dopa: According to a study involving Parkinson’s disease patients, patients were given 500 mg of L-dopa. HGH levels were increased in patients for two hours . Some fermented foods, including kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt, are rich in L-dopa.
- Creatine: A significant increase in growth hormone levels for 5-6 hours was reported to be associated with a 20 mg dose of the creatine supplement. Raw beef and fatty fish, especially salmon, are rich food sources of creatine.
Although natural supplements have been proven effective for boosting HGH levels, their effects are only temporary.
What Happens When You Boost Natural Growth Hormone Levels?
Boosting your growth hormone levels has been associated with improved body function, overall health, and fitness. This is what happens when you enhance your growth hormone levels naturally:
1. Improved Bone Health:
Your bones become more brittle when you have low levels of growth hormone, when you increase your body’s ability to produce more HGH, your bone mineral density increases, resulting in strong bones.
According to a 10-year study that involved 80 women aged from 50 to 70 years, participants were given growth hormone treatment. GH treatment proved to be effective for fracture healing and bone health in postmenopausal women .
2. Increased Muscle Mass:
Many research studies report that boosting HGH levels has been linked with improved muscle function and enhanced muscle performance in sports. Just as anabolic steroids work, high HGH levels use anabolic effects to increase muscle strength and muscle mass .
It is essential to mention that the World Anti-Doping Agency considers human growth hormone a doping agent. Therefore, they restrain the use of HGH because of its positive effects on athletic performance.
3. Improved Wound Healing:
According to an older study, boosting HGH levels can improve the body’s ability to heal wounds, and therefore, HGH can be clinically used to heal wounds after any disease, trauma, or injury. Research evidence also suggests that HGH can be used in the rehabilitation process because it can heal burn wounds .
4. Weight Loss:
When you optimize HGH levels, you can lose weight fast because HGH encourages the breakdown of fatty acids in fat tissue – lipolysis. One study reported that growth hormone treatment was shown to reduce fat in people with growth hormone deficiency and obesity.
Another study found that obese people can significantly lose weight by growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) .
5. Improved Cognitive Performance:
Boosting natural growth hormone levels has also been associated with improved cognitive performance. According to a study published in 2013, recreating the production of high levels of HGH was found to improve learning and memory by interacting with specific receptors present in the brain .
6. Stronger Immune System:
Improving immune function is another attribute of boosting growth hormone production. Studies report that high levels of HGH stimulate the thymus gland to produce immunity T cells. Some studies have also conducted research on the effect of HGH in increasing immunity in HIV patients .
HGH Injections to Boost HGH:
Nowadays, lab-developed HGH injections are used to boost the production of growth hormones in adults and children. Depending upon how low the growth hormone levels are, people receive injections daily or per week. Growth hormone injections work by mimicking the function of natural growth hormones in the body.
If you are experiencing growth hormone deficiency, your doctor will decide if the treatment dose should be increased or decreased. To check HGH levels, blood tests, blood sugar levels, bone density, and blood cholesterol levels are also checked.
Boosting growth hormone production in natural ways is the best option because HGH injections come with possible side effects, including:
- Swelling on hands and feet
- Joint stiffness
- Muscle aches
You should not use HGH injections if you have:
- Multiple injuries
- Serious illness
- Breathing problem
- Complications from abdominal or open-heart surgery.
The Bottom Line:
Just like other essential hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, increased levels of growth hormone are essential for carrying out many metabolic functions. As you get older, your natural HGH levels become very low. Besides aging, your diet and lifestyle choices also impact the secretion of growth hormones from the somatotropic cells of the pituitary gland.
You can boost your growth hormone levels to optimal levels by following the ways mentioned in this article and improve overall physical and mental health. Although you can increase growth hormone naturally, it is essential to speak with your healthcare provider without making any abrupt changes in your lifestyle.
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