A Guide to Growth Hormone and Diabetes
Certainly, you have heard of diabetes, and it’s no wonder. The numbers of those Americans afflicted with the condition have been rising dramatically in recent years. According to the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), in the past decade alone, the cases of people living with diabetes jumped more than 40 percent – to almost 26 million Americans. Worldwide the numbers are just as chilling. DRI estimates there are 382 million people globally, living with diabetes, and the World Health Organization believes that number will be more than double by 2030.
Did you know that diabetes claims more lives than AIDS and breast cancer combined – taking the life of 1 American every 3 minutes?
But what exactly is diabetes? Diabetes, technically called diabetes mellitus by medical professionals, is not a single condition. It is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels (“high blood sugar”) because the person with the condition is not producing enough insulin, or because the cells of his or her body do not respond correctly to the presence of insulin or both.
Insulin and Diabetes
To understand diabetes you must understand the very important hormone, insulin, and its role in metabolizing or processing the food that you eat. In order to work, the cells of your body require sugar, or glucose, for energy. During digestion, when the sugars are released from the food, this triggers your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is what “knocks on the doors” of your cells and tells them to open up and let the glucose in. But in a person with diabetes, that either doesn’t happen or the cells “can’t respond to the knock.”
Either way, the glucose does not get into the cells where it needs to go, and instead builds up in the blood, causing the many problems associated with diabetes, such as fatigue, increased urination, excessive thirst, and increased hunger. Untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, limb loss, kidney disease, and death.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes. In Type 1, your body does not produce insulin. In Type 2, your body produces insulin, but not enough for proper glucose metabolism. Type 2 is far more common. 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2. There is no cure for either type of diabetes, but both can be managed. People with Type 1 require insulin injections, and also a special diet. People with Type 2 diabetes usually take prescription medications, should watch their diet, and may also require insulin injections. People have been able to manage the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise alone.
Diabetes and Growth Hormone
Studies have found that one of the potential side effects of growth hormone therapy is that it can, in certain individuals, cause a condition known as “insulin resistance.” Insulin resistance is often the precursor to the development of Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance, therefore, is often referred to as “pre-diabetes.” HGH does influence the level of glucose in your blood (blood sugar). However, it is important to note that this is not a “side effect,” of growth hormone, as much as it is one of its actual purposes in your body. In fact, growth hormone is one of three hormones produced by your glands which raise blood sugar levels. The other two are epinephrine, and cortisol.
One of the positive effects of Growth Hormone is that it increases protein synthesis and triggers the release of fatty acids. It is the release of those fatty acids that in certain cases, can cause insulin resistance. This is because the fatty acids interfere with your cells’ ability to take in glucose. “Sugar,” therefore builds up in the blood, and your body attempts to compensate by producing more insulin. The increased insulin helps glucose to be taken up by the cells, but as the body continues to release large amounts of insulin, the cells become “resistant” to it, which gives us the condition known as insulin resistance.
Can Excess Growth Hormone Cause Diabetes?
As stated earlier, there is some evidence in the medical literature that points to the possibility of an increased risk of developing diabetes in patients on growth hormone therapy. However, it is important to point out that growth hormone cannot “cause” diabetes. Most people can compensate naturally for the increased amount of insulin in the blood produced in response to the presence of HGH. For the most part, it is only those who are otherwise predisposed to insulin resistance, particularly those who are obese, that are at a greater risk of insulin resistance and/or diabetes through the use of supplemental growth hormone.
In fact, since growth hormone can help you to build lean muscle, and therefore increase your metabolism, it can actually help you lose weight, and therefore have the net effect of actually decreasing your risk of developing diabetes.
Growth Hormone, Metabolism and Weight Loss
I hear it all the time, “I practically starve myself, and yet I cannot lose enough weight!” “Starve,” is the right word. If you reduce your caloric intake too low, your body does go into “starvation mode.” In starvation mode, your metabolism slows down. Thinking it needs to do so to keep you alive, your body will want to store fat and will break down muscle. That is no way to diet! You want to increase your muscle mass and reduce your body fat!
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even when resting. The more HGH you have, the more muscle you can build. High intensity workouts have been shown to not only burn calories, and increase muscle mass, they increase production of HGH. That’s why HGH is so effective at producing weight loss that lasts!
Human growth hormone, or HGH, is responsible for the growth of all the cells of your body. HGH is particularly important to the growth of muscle tissue. HGH stimulates your muscles to create new fibers and new cells. In the presence of high HGH, you will grow bigger, stronger muscles, in a shorter amount of time. Those bigger stronger muscles will help you to lose fat, and keep it off!
Diabetes and the Aging Process
Type 2 Diabetes, the most common form, used to be called “adult onset diabetes” because it showed up most often in people over 40. It is still not clear if Type 2 diabetes is a “symptom of aging,” or merely the result of the many biological and lifestyle changes that we go through as we get older. What we do know is that it runs in families, that certain ethnic groups such as African Americans and Latin Americans are more predisposed to the condition, and that it occurs slowly over time, with most people presenting with what we call “pre-diabetes” first.
That means that just like many of the other “symptoms of aging” you can take steps to minimize your risks of developing diabetes. As age-management physicians, we can help by creating a custom anti-aging and overall wellness program for you that will include diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, all designed to reduce your risk of developing diabetes and related conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.