So why are we so afraid of aging anyhow? It's really part of the natural course. But still, we struggle to accept this natural transition.
I know, I'm there with you. The gray hairs popping up. The pesky weight gain around the middle. The wrinkles in the eyes that show that I've been laughing a lot. Not all bad stuff. I like to call these"wisdom impressions." I always loved a good scar to show that maybe I actually did something.
But science is actually demonstrating some ways which we can slow down the process (perhaps).
Somatopause describes the gradual and progressive fall in spontaneous human growth hormone (hGH) or somatotropin secretion that occurs with increasing age. This reduction of hGH usually occurs in parallel to the following:
- fall in circulating insulin-like growth factor
- reduction in lean body mass
- decrease in Testosterone production
- decrease in Estradiol production
- increase in visceral (abdominal) body fat
- rise in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
- decline in bone mineral density
- sleep disturbance,
- reduced immune function
Wait, what did I say above about "wisdom impressions?" Any way to have less......"impressions?" Hold on a minute...... there's good news in a bit.
hGH is produced by the pituitary gland, and is known as the hormone of regeneration. It plays a vital role in the following:
- fat metabolism
- growth of all tissues
- energy level
- tissue repair
- cell replacement
- bone strength
- brain function
- sexual function
- organ health integrity
- enzyme production
- and integrity of hair, nails, and skin
Good stuff, right? All necessary processes. But wait, there's more unsavory news before the good stuff.
hGH is responsible for the rapid growth during childhood – and for the repair and regeneration of human tissue throughout our lives. By the time we reach the age of 30, our hGH levels are only about 20% of their peak levels during childhood, and after the age of 30, they continue to decline by about 12 to 15% per decade. By the time most of us are 30 years old, our bodies no longer produce enough hGH to keep pace with the cellular degradation that is occurring in our bodies. As our hGH levels continue to decline, the damage that we collectively call ‘aging’ accelerates and the visible signs start to manifest......"impressions".
Seriously, done yet? Wonderful, now on to the ways we are able to alter our fate by slowing the natural decline of hGH by implementing some lifestyle changes.
- The largest surge of hGH occurs an hour after we fall asleep. So it's crucial that we get adequate quality and quantity of sleep. I wrote about this previously, where you can find some sleep hygiene techniques. In short, same bedtime each night, dim lights and have a "laptop/TV curfew," and no alcohol 2 hours before bed.
- Elevated cortisol also has a negative affect on hGH production. This is not your body on everyday stressor ups and downs of cortisol. I'm talking about life on full speed ahead stress mode without a shut of switch. One in high stress mode ALL OF THE TIME. So it's important for your hGH levels to have some balance of your stress in your life. See my previous write-up for some........ ahhh, mental balance ideas.
- Proper hydration is key. Dehydration has shown to negatively influence the positive response of exercise-induced levels of hGH. Recommended levels are ~ 1/2 your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 100 pounds, then it's 50 ounces/day. If you're way below this, don't start gorging yourself. Start slow and add a bit more each day until it feels more natural.
- High carbohydrate diets have also been shown to demonstrate low hGH production, especially after exercise. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks at least 2 hours after exercise and instead take in at least 25gm of protein. Lean/clean protein (non-sugary protein shake, nut butters, eggs, lean meats) after exercise has been shown to enhance hGH production.
- And finally, exercise. But exercising in a way that actually promotes optimum hGH production. Get HOT, get SWEATY, get OUT OF BREATH (to a safe point), feel the BURN in your muscles (lactate production), and work in SHORT BURSTS. Suggested exercise bouts are 3-5 "metabolic" sessions/week where you work at least 10 minutes into that lactate "burn." And keep it to 20-30 minute sessions with a variety of exercises to keep muscles and bones stimulated for new growth.
So, growing older......inevitable. Doing so gracefully and with empowerment......effortless (if you sleep well, stress less, hydrate more, ingest protein and exercise). No need to fear those "wisdom impressions," they are simply a part of the process.
“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many." --Author unknown
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