Hormones are important. They regulate our body processes and help us stay healthy and strong as we grow, age, and function. One of these hormones is the human growth hormone (HGH). It naturally decreases as we age, which can result in unpleasant symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, and depression. If you suspect you’re experiencing an HGH deficiency, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, check out these healthy ways to encourage healthy, natural HGH production.
What is HGH?
HGH is a natural hormone released by the brain’s pituitary gland. It helps children grow and adults stay in shape, and regulates metabolism. It also helps adults maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Because it has so many health benefits, some people are tempted to take synthetic, supplemental HGH — but it’s not recommended to do this without a prescription from a doctor and a diagnosis for a hormone deficiency. There are some things you can do, however, to maintain your natural levels so you can feel your best.
Eat Foods Rich in Glutamine
Make a delicious chicken or steak dinner. Both delicious dishes are top sources of glutamine, an amino acid that’s needed for the body to produce HGH. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, folks who increased their glutamine levels by 2 grams (roughly the amount in one serving of beef or chicken) also significantly boosted their HGH levels. Other tasty foods rich in glutamine: salmon, eggs, and cheddar cheese.
Want a glutamate-rich dish that’s simple and tasty? Try this recipe for Tangy Lemon Chicken Picatta.
Tangy Lemon Chicken Piccata (Serves 4)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup low-fat sour cream
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 boneless chicken breast halves
- 2 teaspoons Greek seasoning
- In skillet, heat garlic and oil over medium heat; cook 2 minutes. Add broth. Let simmer until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 5 minutes. Add sour cream, capers, and lemon juice. Let simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; reserve.
- Coat chicken with cooking spray; sprinkle with seasoning. In pan over medium-high heat, cook chicken, turning once, for 8 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes. Serve with prepared sauce.
Exercise in Short, Easy Spurts
Physical activity triggers changes in the sympathetic nervous system that enhance HGH secretion. And it doesn’t take lengthy workouts in the gym to reap the benefits. In fact, research in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that simply enjoying three 10-minute bouts of easy activity daily (like dancing in your living room for about three songs) may boost HGH as effectively as continuous exercise. As an added bonus: It’s easier to work out in short bursts, too.
Develop a Regular Sleep Routine
Your body produces HGH throughout different stages of your sleep cycle, say scientists in Pediatric Neuroendocrinology. Research in Clinical Endocrinology suggests that if you aren’t getting enough sleep, or you aren’t sleeping deeply enough, the HGH production process may be suppressed. To catch more Zzzs and regulate your HGH production, take 1 to 3 milligrams of melatonin 30 minutes before bed. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that supplementing with the sleep-inducing hormone may increase HGH levels.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.