Welcome to the article-shorts, a vehicle to share little segments of big systems, in hopes that they make sense and perhaps provide a new or better understanding of the topic they cover. Whether it be the American electoral process, a car engine, algebra, the energy efficiency of my old home, or the metabolism of the human body, I like to understand how the smaller systems work together to influence the greater network these systems support. Perhaps this is why I am a Transitional Fitness Trainer at EQUIVITA. As a TFT at EQUIVITA, we consistently work to first understand the parts of the skeletal muscle system(tone, flexibility, awareness, posture, endurance, nutritional needs) and then once we have some data on a person’s individual expressions of this stuff, we start to design a program to influence that body system.(Sound intense? Maybe, but the delivery system is so cool: EQUIVITA Initial Fitness Review--roughly 2 hr appointment that breaks down your systems, and folds them back together to make a workout plan for you.)
The whole human body, and what to do with the damn thing, fascinates me.
Currently, I fancy hormones and behavior: behavioral endocrinology, IS the scientific study of the interaction between hormones and behavior. This interaction is bidirectional: hormones can influence behavior, and behavior can sometimes influence hormone concentrations(MEATY...YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!).
Let’s grow! Let’s learn a little bit about growth hormone(GH). This wee bijou, growth hormone, has some very big ‘hot buttons!’ A quick internet search on growth hormone will pull studies showing that increased growth hormone can decrease body fat, while it increases muscle mass and bone density. Or peruse articles that discuss the impact of GH on raised energy levels, and improved tone and texture of our skin. Tied for other-first-place in the ‘growth hormone popularity contest’ this hormone has been used by sports competitors since the 1970s and has now been banned by the International Olympic Committee and National College Athletic Association--interesting, it’s NOT entirely clear why...but we will investigate it!
WHAT GROWTH HORMONE IS...is a peptide hormone in our endocrine system(the other system working, with the nervous system, to regulate the synchrony of the human body networks, and their harmony with the external environment). Growth hormone is created and secreted in the pituitary gland(pea sized gland at the base of the brain). It is a major participant in the control of several complex physiologic processes, growth and metabolism. In ‘growth,’ growth hormone stimulates the body, indirectly, by traveling to the liver to trigger the production of insulin-like growth factor-1(IGF-1)(enough mainstream articles are using this term--otherwise we might not go this in-depth) which triggers growth in bone tissues and protein synthesis in muscle and other tissues. In metabolism, growth hormone interacts with how our bodies synthesize protein, break down fat, and assists other hormones in carb metabolism. Growth hormone, is a team player in the game of maintaining our blood glucose within a normal range--glucose is the human body's key source of energy, found in the breakdown of carbs.
HOW GROWTH HORMONE MAKES US GROW. Wait are we talking about METABOLISM, FINALLY?! Almost, we just need to understand how growth hormone works so we can understand how to BOOST IT! Growth hormone is controlled by two hormones released from the hypothalamus, called somatocrinin or Growth-hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), and somatostatin or Growth-hormone-inhibiting hormone (GHIH). The unique thing about GH is how it’s released–in a “pulsatile” manner, which just means that your body will release it in bursts. Throughout a 24-hour period, there will be times when your body is pouring out GH at very high doses, and then other times when it drops and almost none is released, a kind of peaks and valleys pattern. Increasing GH is a matter of making the “peaks” larger and longer lasting, while minimizing the “valleys”.
PEAKS AND VALLEYS...now we are talking about how to influence your metabolism, via your new or updated understanding of growth hormone. WAIT! I’m experiencing a major valley! I need to take some melatonin, and surely stop to grab a couple hours in ‘deep sleep’ since the largest pulse of GH, in both men and women, is released during the first deep sleep cycle of rest. When Behave Yourself! returns we will learn how you can boost your metabolism through rest.