SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 11, 2009

Paleo/Human Growth Hormone

Filed under: HGH,Paleo Diet — Jan Turner @ 10:21 pm
The Paleo Diet Update
Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Issue: # 2009 – 37 / September 11, 2009


Hello! Welcome to The Paleo Diet Update. We invite you to use this information to maintain, or perhaps regain, the “good life.” That means having the mental and physical energy to accomplish your goals, and not be troubled with the many diseases that plague modern society.

Thanks to Maelán Fontes and Pablo Martinez Ramirez, this update is also available in Spanish.

By investigating how the human species evolved as hunter-gatherers, we learn what foods our species is adapted to eating. We can also research how modern-day cultures that continue hunter-gatherer lifestyles eat, and learn from the freedom they experience from many diseases common in the Western world.

More and more, scientists are documenting how a Paleolithic diet of fruits, lean meats, nuts, seafood, and vegetables maintains optimal health, and can even reverse devastating illness.

In this issue, we take a look at the affects of human growth hormone, and the best ways to ensure adequate levels of this important hormone. We’ll also show you how to make Mexican dining “Paleo”.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

In This Issue

Ways to Make Mexican Dining “Paleo”

Human Growth Hormone: The Pros and Cons by Wiley Long
Human growth hormone (GH), as you might suspect, is necessary for childhood and adolescent growth. Youthful levels of GH promote a healthy metabolism and an optimal ratio of lean muscle tissue to body fat.

Among adults, GH deficiency is associated with excess body fat, and a decrease in extra cellular water volume1. Those with GH deficiency may also have a lower bone mineral content, lipid abnormalities, decreased insulin sensitivity, and decreased fibrinolysis1. The process by which a fibrous protein (fibrin) involved in the clotting of blood is broken down is known as fibrinolysis.

Lipid refers to a fatty substance in the blood. A lipid disorder increases your risk for atherosclerosis, and thus your risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure (or hypertension), and other health problems.

Reasons for growth hormone deficiency

Several studies have shown that the amplitude of GH pulses (GH is released from the pituitary gland in a pulsatile manner2) is reduced for both men and women as we age3.

For men, GH secretion declines 50% every 7 years beyond 18-25 years of age2. This aging effect on the 24-hour mean serum GH is twice as great for men as it is for pre-menopausal women, so estrogens may limit the decline in GH2.

Obese individuals, however, show profound suppression of GH secretion at any age2. Poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, and lack of physical fitness can also contribute to a decline in circulating GH that is independent of age4.

Risks of growth hormone therapy

GH replacement injections can cost up to $10,000 a year. Unfortunately, such GH treatments have been linked to increased risk for developing soft tissue edema, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and gynecomastia (abnormally large mammary glands in males)5.

Safer, less expensive alternatives

There are healthier and less costly ways to increase your GH levels. These include weight management, exercise, healthy sleep habits, reduction of high-glycemic-load carbohydrates, and specific nutrients.

The Paleo Diet can be very helpful for increasing GH levels. This way of eating maintains the correct balance of calories from carbohydrate, protein, and fat to improve blood-lipid profiles, and lipid abnormalities are associated with GH deficiency. This balance also reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure because a lipid disorder increases your risk for atherosclerosis.

Emulating the amount of daily energy that our hunter-gatherer ancestors obtained from carbohydrate, protein, and fat also helps you to feel fuller, and burn more calories. This is key to managing your weight, and obesity can suppress GH secretion at any age.

Other aspects of the Paleo Diet also help with weight management. The diet supplies nutrient-dense foods, while avoiding refined grain, sugar, and vegetable oil. Although these offer few vitamins, minerals, or phytochemicals, they contribute more than 36 percent of the energy in the average American diet.

The Paleo Diet also offers another key strategy to help maintain optimum weight and increase GH levels. It reduces high-glycemic-load carbohydrates that contribute to obesity and suppress GH secretion.

While GH deficiency is associated with below normal bone mineral content, the Paleo Diet helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. By maintaining an optimum sodium-potassium ratio, the diet not only reduces the risk of osteoporosis, but that of hypertension, stroke, kidney stones, gastrointestinal-tract cancers, and asthma as well.

Specific nutrients shown to increase GH levels

Even a relatively small amount (2,000 mg) of the amino acid glutamine has been shown to boost plasma GH levels6. Glutamine occurs naturally in many Paleo Diet foods, including meat (3 ounces of meat contain 3 to 4 grams of glutamine), fish, and eggs. Glutamine is also highly concentrated in raw cabbage and beets. Be aware that cooking can destroy glutamine, particularly in vegetables.

Another amino acid, arginine, can increase the release of GH when the body is at rest. Combining arginine intake with exercise boosts GH levels even more7.

High in protein, the Paleo Diet supplies many protein-rich foods that contain arginine. This includes eggs, meat8-10 (grass-fed beef, chicken, lean pork, turkey, and wild meat), nuts, (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pinenuts, pistachio nuts, and walnuts), seafood (salmon, shrimp, and tuna), and seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds). Raw garlic, onion and watermelon also contain arginine.

Helping Yourself

The Paleo Diet can help you get the nutrients that increase GH levels without the inherent risks or expense of GH therapy.

  • Maintain the right balance of calories from carbohydrate, protein, and fat. This helps improve lipid profiles, stops obesity-related lowering of GH levels, and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

  • Eliminate high-glycemic-load carbohydrates, cereal grains, sugar, and vegetable oil. This helps optimize your weight, which improves GH secretion.

  • Maintain an optimum sodium-potassium ratio. This reduces the risk of osteoporosis (from GH deficiency-related lower bone mineral content), hypertension, stroke, kidney stones, gastrointestinal-tract cancers, and asthma.

  • Increase consumption of foods with glutamine and arginine. Beets, cabbage, eggs, fish, garlic, lean meats, nuts, onions, seafood, seeds, and watermelon contain these amino acids that help GH levels.

With the help of nutritious foods, the Paleo Diet can improve GH levels and provide many other health benefits.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how antioxidants fight the damaging effects of free radicals, and what are the best sources of antioxidants. We’ll also show you how to make fun, non-alcoholic drinks for parties.

Ways to Make Mexican Dining “Paleo” by Nell Stephenson
During the summer months, I often fancy a nice Mexican meal! After living in Los Angeles for 15 years, I became quite spoiled by having the pleasure of experiencing authentic Mexican meals at the homes of friends and clients that were prepared by parents or relatives from different regions of Mexico.

You might think Mexican food – isn’t that all rice and beans? Sour cream and tortillas? Yes, that is part of the typical diet, but it’s not ALL of the typical diet. Think guacamole, tomato salsa, char-grilled steaks, sautéed prawns and shredded chicken, just to name a few options!

In keeping with exploring what to order at different restaurants, here are some great choices when you’re eating out Mexican style!

  • Fajitas! Choose steak, chicken or prawns. Usually this dish will be a mixture of bell peppers, onions, perhaps carrots or other veggies, and protein sautéed in oil in a skillet. Ask them to hold the rice, beans, tortillas, and cheese, and order extra veggies instead.

  • Ceviche! A fish-based dish, which is cooked using lemon or lime. It’s often served on a crisp tortilla, so just ask for it to be atop a bed of lettuce and eat with a fork instead of on the shell!

  • Coctel de Camarones! This shrimp cocktail is different from our version with the red cocktail sauce on the side for dipping. It often has smaller shrimp mixed with cucumber and onion in a tomato base.

  • Carne or Pollo Asada! Grilled skirt steak or chicken that’s lean, mean and tasty!

  • Pescado! There will often be a fish option, so ask for it to be grilled and served with any veggie the chef has in house that day.

Be creative too. If you’re at a more casual place, opt for grilled fish tacos (sans the tortilla), or, perhaps, a chopped salad (without the usual corn and black beans).

Read the menu carefully and thoroughly in order to make the necessary substitutions as needed. At the end of the meal, you’ll be satisfied, but not stuffed. And, you’ll feel much better than your dining companion who ate the giant 1,500-calorie burrito with the works!

  • “My son, who was diagnosed with MS in March, said that he noticed that he can tolerate the heat lately without a flare up. Plus, the symptoms that persisted in his hands are now only in one hand and are intermittent. This great news gives us the motivation to stay true to the diet. I can’t thank you enough!

    We believe that if someone with MS starts the autoimmune version of this diet within perhaps 5 years of diagnosis, they have a good chance of returning to baseline and living a lifetime free of symptoms. Someone who has had the disease longer should be able to stop progression, but at some point, it appears that the nerve damage becomes permanent so complete recovery will not always be possible.

Follow Up and Feedback

In this section, we’ll share readers’ concerns and questions about nutrition and the Paleo Diet to help you better understand how to use the diet to optimize your health and fitness.

We received the following concern:

“Is there a problem with eating mostly fruits and little in the way of vegetables? I like almost all fruits and have been eating a variety of them with an average intake of around 350 grams of carb a day, and especially a lot of raisins. Am I missing out greatly by not consuming more vegetables?”

Many vegetables contain health-promoting phytochemicals, as do fruits. Vegetables, however, typically have very low sugar content, and very high fiber content.

We recommend that people who are overweight or have insulin resistance eat fruits that are lower in fructose. A table of fruits and sugars is available on our website.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article about the adverse effects of fructose in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.

People who are obese and not active may have to limit fruits because their sugar content may adversely affect insulin metabolism. We also recommend that people do not eat high fructose corn syrup for this reason and other concerns. This information, and much more, is available online in our nutritional tools section.

Although we can’t answer every question personally due to the number of letters received, we are very interested in hearing your thoughts, learning about your experiences, and understanding your questions. Many of the questions that we receive will be answered in future newsletters.

Talk to you next week!

To your optimum health,

Wiley Long, M.S., Nutrition and Exercise Science



1 Comment »

  1. This is some great Info. Thanks I will start working out more to lose some weigh.

    Comment by goodlookingabs — October 8, 2009 @ 11:07 pm | Reply

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