The human body is an amazing machine and the hormones that run it are even more amazing.
Hormones are chemical messengers created by our endocrine glands. These glands are located throughout the body and produce a variety of hormones, each with a specific role to play.
Although they cannot be seen by the human eye, most bodily functions from simple to basic and complex are controlled by these special hormonal messengers.
Once released by the endocrine glands, they are carried by the bloodstream to all organs and bodily tissues to carry out their specific mission.
The body itself does not know how old it is but relies on and reads the chemical instructions it receives. These instructions, via healthy hormones tell it to repair, rebuild, replace, renew or rejuvenate worn out cells and tissues.
On the flip side, a lack of healthy hormones flowing sends the opposite message and the body begins to degenerate, decay and die.
In other words, when hormones are properly balanced the body thrives.
However, when small issues occur with our hormones or we simply lack production, these small issues can cause serious if not life-altering symptoms. So, understanding the functions of our hormones really helps us to take control of our health and our longevity.
Testosterone, the male sex hormone, estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, and cortisol, the stress hormone, are hormones that play obvious roles, so most of us have become familiar with them.
However, there is another hormone that plays a huge role in not only the health of our bodies, but to our longevity as well. This hormone is HGH or GH – the human growth hormone.
HGH is the granddaddy of all hormones and plays a critical role in building lean muscle, repairing tissue and strengthening our bones.
Secreted by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) it is also empowered to boost our sex drive and lift our moods. And, because of its amazing ability to turn back our ageing clock, HGH has been dubbed the "fountain of youth" and the "fitness" hormone.
If you value a long healthy life, you should take the time to get acquainted with this "granddaddy" of all hormones.
Unfortunately, the production and release of this youth boosting hormone begins to steadily decline soon after our body has gone through puberty and we've reached our 20s.
Unless we have taken proper steps to prevent it, once our 40s set in, our levels of HGH and their function have been seriously compromised.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to increase our levels of HGH. Medically, HGH can be increased through pills or supplements, sprays and even injections. But that's a shortcut, can be very expensive and isn't what Mother Nature intended.
There are natural ways to boost this hormone that don't require visits to the doctor, prescription pills and supplements, expensive sprays or multiple injections.
Not surprisingly, diet, exercise and sleep are the primary players when it comes to the health of our hormonal levels and HGH is no exception.
Although all proper exercise is safe, inexpensive and the best anti-inflammatory medicine we can tap into, not all exercise works to stimulate the production of HGH.
So, if you are looking to boost your HGH levels, you'll need to pay the price. You'll need to push your body to its limits for brief periods of time and that means intense exercise.
Intense muscle movement is the stimulant for this and other youth hormones. The real key to getting this hormone activated is to go all out in effort.
We must work our muscles regularly with proper strength training exercise or HIIT (high intensity exercises).
Activities like jogging, swimming and walking are not intense enough and do not work muscles directly under a load so they do not stimulate the "strengthening" hormone – HGH – that works to keep us young.
Exercise is only part of the equation. Diet and quality sleep matter as well.
Although no foods themselves contain HGH, there are foods you can focus on that help to boost HGH levels.
Melatonin rich foods such as raspberries can increase HGH levels by up to 157 per cent.
Pineapple before sleep helps to stimulate serotonin and melatonin that both influence AHGH and testosterone secretion.
Eggs that contain essential vitamins and amino acids, goji berries, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, nuts, lemons, raisins and even raw chocolate help in the stimulation, production and release of HGH.
And, let's not forget how quality sleep helps stimulate HGH. HGH is secreted in short pulses during the day, but much more is pulsed and released while sleeping – all based on your internal clock or circadian rhythm.
In fact, deep sleep is one of the best strategies you can use to enhance your HGH production.
Stopping the ageing process in its tracks and improving one's overall health is not something you should tackle after a health scare.
Combining and adding these three stimulators to your daily routine now is key to helping your body naturally increase your HGH levels slow the ageing process and enjoy stellar health without pills or injections.
And, the great thing is, all three weapons are cost effective and readily available to both men and women.
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.