Your Body's Natural Fountain of Youth December 12, 2017 10:20
The mythical Fountain of Youth may not be as far out of reach as you think!
The mythical Fountain of Youth may not be as far out of reach as you think! Your body makes an incredible version called "growth factor."
Unless you're a professional athlete or biology geek, you've probably never heard of growth factor. These naturally occurring proteins and hormones help heal illness and slow aging by promoting cell growth, which explains how they got their name.
So how can you make more growth factor? The answer starts with understanding how these amazing cells work.
Chances are you know someone who seemed to age almost overnight after retirement. One moment, they were in great health: vibrant, energetic, and full of life. Then they went on permanent vacation, and suddenly they were tired, gaining belly fat, and feeling their age.
It turns out there's a good explanation—it's growth factor! Let your body know you want more of it by eating a healthy diet and working out, and you'll keep making the compounds that are crucial for preventing disease and slowing aging.
But if you follow the typical American diet and choose Netflix binges over high-intensity interval training, your body will accelerate the aging process. Your output of growth factor will grind to a halt, taking your energy and disease-fighting potential with it.
Growth factors are key for staying youthful and in good health, and everyone produces them: you, your pet poodle, even the roses in your flower bed! In people, these crucial proteins and hormones help heal illness and injury all over your body, from fractured bones to skin cells harmed by the sun.
Your body makes growth factor daily to:
● Support your immune system
● Produce new bone, nerve, and skin cells
● Repair aging and wounded cells
If you had an endless supply of growth factor, you'd have a significantly lower risk of illness and inflammation.
That second part is key because the symptoms we associate with aging are actually just inflammation: wrinkles and age spots, stiff and painful joints, poor short-term memory, reduced energy... They occur in large part because our levels of growth factor decrease as we grow older.
The rest of your body also suffers the consequences. When you're lacking growth factors, you aren't able to adequately repair vascular, nerve, and bone cells. That's part of why age increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's.
Given that it's essential for your health, the next question is clear: How do you increase your levels of growth factor?
The truth is that we all want to look and feel more youthful for as long as we possibly can! And like most areas of your health, the foods you eat and the way you exercise make a big difference.
Eating low-sugar impact foods can help promote skin growth factor and curb acne. That means avoiding gluten, grains, and fruit in favor of plenty of veggies and slow-low carbs like quinoa (but watch out for these weird things that happen when you give up grains.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help stop the breakdown of growth factor, so be sure to include foods rich in omega-3s at every meal. (If you're not eating salmon, nuts, avocado, or other sources of omega-3s daily, try a high-quality fish oil supplement instead.)
Exercising on a regular basis is also key to preserving normal growth factor levels. As a matter of fact, studies prove that high intensity workouts actually trigger the production of brain growth factor!
The outcome? Middle-aged participants who engaged in physical activity made 200% more new brain stem cells, and the survival rate of those new cells was 190% greater than in participants who weren't exercising. That's one fantastic reason to include both resistance and interval training in your workout routine.
Bottom line: if you want to feel more youthful, it's crucial to eat right, stay active, and exercise regularly! With a healthy diet and the right type of exercise, you can look and feel great long into the future, thanks to growth factor.