Testosterone, estrogen, and growth hormone (HGH) are an anti-aging trio. Depending on your gender, of course, this group ignites your energy and libido, keeps muscles and bones strong, and your body ripped. However, beginning in your 30s, your hormone production slows down and the consequences are evident—increased belly fat, lost of body tone, lack of energy, wrinkles, etc. Although you cannot turn back the clock, your lifestyle can influence how your body makes and uses this valuable trio.
“These hormones decline due to aging, but they also turn down due to wear and tear of stress, sleep deprivation, and diets devoid of nutrients,” says Jade Teta ND, CSCS, co-author of The Metabolic Effect Diet (metaboliceffect.com.)
Indeed, these hormones are significantly affected by another hormone in which diet and exercise play a part: insulin. The body needs insulin to drive sugar into the cells, but too much of this hormone can create a chronic inflammation body state. “All three hormones— testosterone, estrogen and HGH— sensitize the body to insulin,” says Teta.
Other health issues, such as digestive disorders, allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, asthma, eczema, acne, depression, and sinus disorders are all associated with chronic inflammation, explains Natasha Turner, ND, author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet (drnatashaturner.com). She also points out that stress and toxic estrogen (like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides, and added hormones) are major contributors to this body inflammation circle.
People tend to think that hormones are 100% gender specific, so men’s concern is to keep up testosterone levels while women focus is on estrogen. But what about growth hormone? For some reason, this too is seen as “manly.” Nevertheless, for your mind and body to function at their best, all three need to be synchronized in the right way.
Testosterone: The Bull Hormone
“Testosterone levels tend to taper off with aging, obesity, and stress—while you are under stress your body favors cortisol production in detriment of testosterone—but today men are experiencing testosterone decline much earlier in life,” says Turner.
Research shows that low testosterone levels are linked to an increase in potbelly fat in men, but women also can be affected. Low testosterone may result in reduced libido, painful intercourse, and poor tolerance to exercise.
Signs you may have low testosterone levels include a loss of muscle tissue, depression, and decreased strength, stamina, drive, and motivation. You can have testosterone levels measured with a simple blood test, but make sure both free and total testosterone levels are included, says Turner. Total testosterone is the total amount of this hormone in the blood while free testosterone is the actual hormone available to the cells.
Manage Your Levels. Your body needs some fat to make testosterone, while excess sugar bump up insulin. Stay away from trans fat and be careful of saturated fats intake. Instead, opt for mono-saturated and poly-saturated fats, such as avocado, olive oil, and some nuts, lean meat, 2% or skim dairy, fish, and eggs. Also, reduce the presence of toxic estrogen by buying certified organic meat, dairy, and eggs.
Estrogen: The Lamb Hormone
As estrogen declines, there is a shift on fat deposit from the hips to the belly, which not just alters a woman’s appearance, but also her mood. “Since estrogen helps our cells respond better to insulin, a plunging estrogen also tends to cause an unwelcome increase in insulin,” says Turner.
Manage Your Levels. Lower levels of estrogen are associated with low serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel calm and relaxed. Boost serotonin with tryptophan amino-acid and folic acid food sources, such as chicken, turkey, oats, walnuts, almonds, eggs, bananas, legumes, and whole grain food. Women also may increase their intake of estrogen through components found in cruciferous, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale; and seeds like flaxseeds—particularly as they hit menopause.
However, diet changes may not be enough to slow down the estrogen decline. You also need to increase your exercise routine. A recent study from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria shows that a 10-station circuit of muscular and cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, coordination, abdominal, and pelvic floor muscle exercises significantly improve the problems associated with decrease estrogen.
HGH: The Growth Hormone
HGH is considered the truly fountain of youth for both men and women. It affects every cell of the body. “It’s essential for tissue repair, muscle building, bone density, and healthy body composition,” says Turner.
Manage Your Levels. Sleep at least 7 hours and exercise at a moderate-to-high intensity for short durations. This is a circuit type resistance training that works big muscles (squat, rows, deadlift, chest press, etc.). Do 10 reps each with minimal rest in between. For cardio, switch the long walk for a shorter version with some high intensity intervals in between—maximum 60 seconds followed by a recovery period of the same duration or double.