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The Human Growth Hormone (HGH), also called somatotropin, plays a key role in regulating various body functions and metabolism. HGH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. HGH plays a key role in building, maintaining and repairing healthy tissue in our brain and other organs. It is also required for building muscle mass, boosting metabolism, and burning body fat.
Healthy levels of HGH in the body are essential not only for cell growth, reproduction, and regeneration but also for sound mental health and enhanced cognitive performance in both males and females.
HGH and mental health
HGH has a strong impact on our mental and cognitive health. It is an important hormone that increases the levels of endorphins and dopamine in our body. Endorphins have antidepressant properties while dopamine is a ‘feel-good hormone. Both these hormones help relieve stress and anxiety. A dip in your HGH levels may, thus, wreak havoc on your mental health, causing you to experience more mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
Individuals with a low HGH levels may experience lack of concentration and focus, brain fog, and impaired memory recall. They may experience physical and mental fatigue. They also face higher risks of developing dementia.
Low levels of HGH may reduce cognitive performance. It may also trigger a rise in cortisol or levels in the body. High levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol makes it difficult for you to relax or fall asleep, especially at night.
HGH affects both mental and physical health. Low levels of HGH can also give rise to a variety of medical problems such as obesity, depression, and type -2 diabetes. For optimal physical and mental health, it is vital to ensure your HGH levels are normal. There are many ways by which we can encourage the production of HGH by our pituitary gland.
Maintain a healthy sleep cycle
HGH growth hormone produced intermittently in our body through roughly 6-10 pulses during the 24-hours each day. Approximately 75% of HGH release occurs when we are asleep. The maximum production of HGH takes place during the first period of slow-wave sleep, usually about an hour after you fall asleep.
A healthy sleep cycle is vital for an enhanced HGH production and release by the pituitary gland. In individuals with an unhealthy sleep cycle, such as those who work late at night, there is impaired HGH production. The higher their sleep deprivation, the lower their HGH production.
So to raise your HGH levels, you have to create a healthy sleep routine. Go to bed early and at the same time everyday. For a good night’s sleep, make sure you avoid the intake of caffeinated drinks and beverages a few hours before bedtime. You should also try and avoid exposure to blue light as much as possible at night, which is emitted by computer and mobile screens. Exposure to this light can inhibit your melatonin production, which in turn, reduces both sleep quantity and quality.
Have a light dinner
Having heavy meals or foods rich in carbohydrates and proteins may cause an increase in your insulin levels. The higher Insulin levels may interfere with HGH production negatively. However, more research is needed to establish this fact. To ensure the optimal release of HGH at night, keep your dinner as light and easy-to-digest as possible. After your meal, it takes about two-three hours for the insulin levels to come down to normal. Thus, it makes sense to have your dinner at least two-three hours before retiring to bed.
Reduce your sugar intake
Just having a light dinner is not enough. An increased intake of sugar, sweets, pastries, refined carbohydrates, etc, may spell doom by elevating the insulin levels in the body significantly. It may also trigger an unhealthy gain in body weight, which may eventually result in obesity.
Manage your body weight
An unhealthy increase in body weight, especially around the abdomen may impair the production and release of HGH significantly. The levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) and HGH are relatively lower in obese people than their healthy counterparts. Thus, maintaining a healthy body weight goes a long way to boost the HGH levels in the body.
So to reduce body weight and increase HGH levels, reduce your sugar intake, have a light dinner and exercise. Now let’s see how exercise affects HGH levels in your body.
Exercises and physical activities may improve the production and regulation of hormones significantly. High-intensity exercises such as weight training, circuit training, sprints (repeated) may increase the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels quite appreciably.
Regular exercises and physical activities also help in better management of diabetes and body weight, thereby giving the HGH level a much-needed boost.
Arginine and GABA supplements
The intake of arginine supplements may play a pivotal role in stimulating the production of HGH and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). However, some individuals may need to take higher doses of Arginine supplements to experience any notable increase in their HGH levels.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid or GABA is a neurotransmitter that has a soothing effect on the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain. A naturally-occurring amino acid, GABA, helps an individual to relax and enjoy a better and healthy sleep cycle. With improved sleep, GABA also boosts the release of HGH at night quite remarkably.
Melatonin is an important hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland. The hormone plays a vital role in regulating the sleep-wake up cycle in an individual. Thus, by improving the sleep cycle, melatonin supplements may indirectly aid in increased release of HGH hormone.
Melatonin supplements may also directly boost the production and release of HGH. For maximum benefits, you can take 1–5 mg of melatonin supplement at least half an hour before going to bed. However, one should consult a doctor before using deciding on the dose of melatonin supplements.
We have already found that high insulin levels and being overweight negatively impact HGH production in our body. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. You can eat in an 8 hour window and fast 16 hour if you are following a 16/8 regimen. Intermittent fasting windows can vary between 12/12 to 22/2 or the OMAD where you eat just one meal a day.
Intermittent fasting may help to boost the HGH level by lowering the insulin level which ensures an uninterrupted release of HGH. Intermittent fasting may also help to shed extra body fats, thereby boosting the HGH production directly.
The intake of protein shakes, sports drinks, and beta-alanine supplements, preferably before you start the workout, may enhance HGH production. However, the intake of whey protein or casein supplements before a workout may have a negative effect, lowering the HGH levels. Some of the other natural supplements that may temporarily elevate HGH levels include: glycine, L-dopa, glutamine, and creatine.
There are many HGH-boosting supplements available in the market that include various ingredients such as L-arginine, L-glutamine, L-glycine, L-lysine, L-tyrosine, GABA, and L-ornithine, to naturally stimulate your human growth hormone levels.
HGH is vital for a variety of functions in our body. It is required for the healthy functioning of our brain tissue and for boosting metabolism. building muscle, as well as, burning excess body fat. It promotes the production of endorphins and dopamine in our body which help overcome anxiety and depression.
Low HGH levels can result in physical and mental fatigue. It can cause brain fog, and impaired memory recall. A healthy body weight, sound sleep, physical activities and exercise, healthy dietary practice, and the intake of some natural supplements may go a long way to boost the HGH levels in your body.
Image credit: Freepik
Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.
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