Puberty occurs when areas within the brain awaken beginning a cascade of hormone signals which conclude with the gonads (ovaries and testicles) increasing their production of the female and male sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Under the influence of these hormones a child begins the transition from childhood to sexual maturity. In boys puberty is associated with a growth spurt, the appearance of facial, axillary (arm pit) and pubic hair, acne, deepening of the voice, growth of the testicles and penis while girls undergo a growth spurt, develop breasts, acne, pubic and axillary hair, and growth of the clitoris.
Historical data shows the average age of puberty today is many years sooner than in previous generations. Most experts attribute earlier puberty to better nutrition. A recent article in metabolism.com reviewed how “over-nutrition” accelerates obese children into puberty sooner (referred to as precocious puberty) than normal weight children. The latest studies on causes of precocious puberty suggests that a child’s social environment also exerts an important influence on the timing of puberty. Researchers in Madrid publishing in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 95:4305 2010 analyzed the age of puberty in normal children, adopted children and children whose families immigrated (children not adopted but subject to high levels of personal stress) to Spain. Adopted children were 25 times more likely than other groups of children to undergo precocious puberty (breast development before the age of 8 years in girls, and boys under 9 years of age with testicular growth). Over-all girls were 11 times more likely than boys to demonstrate precocious puberty.
Researchers speculate that socio-emotional stresses early in life of children who are later adopted result in changes in the brain that cause premature maturation of vital nerve pathways. This early brain maturation later results in stimulation of the pituitary gland, turning on the hormone pathways that cause puberty. This seems strange to me because various forms of deprivation in childhood can also delay puberty. For example, girls who have anorexia remain child-like in their body development and may fail to menstruate even into their late teens. A decade ago I studied hormone levels in adults during the stress of illness and surgery and found this lowered the sex hormone levels in their blood. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view because during stressful conditions nature wisely cuts off the reproductive hormones. Why make babies if the environment is hostile in some way? Why the opposite occurs in children under stress of adoption is an interesting but unanswered question.
Gary Pepper, M.D.,
Due to the potential for abuse and high cost, growth hormone treatment in adults is the subject of much controversy. I believe that treating adults with growth hormone deficiency is many times an appropriate and beneficial choice. Firming up my conviction for treating adult growth hormone deficiency is a recent study conducted in the Netherlands and UK published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM 95:3664-3674, 2010). The researchers compared Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, triglycerides, and HDL (good cholesterol), between normal adults and those with low growth hormone levels due to deficient pituitary function (hypopituitarism). All measurements of obesity and lipid metabolism were significantly worse in the young adults (younger than 57 years) with growth hormone deficiency compared to normal adults of a similar age.
As I pointed out in previous articles at metabolism.com, growth hormone levels naturally decline as we get older. The authors of the present study note that growth hormone levels decline 14% per decade in adults. I conceive of this as one of the ways nature gets rid of us after we complete our biological/reproductive functions, since without growth hormone our muscles, immune and nervous systems, decline, leading to death. Itâ€™s planned obsolescence… what is typically referred to as aging. In the recent study senior citizens have equivalent levels of obesity and abnormal lipid metabolism as young adults with growth hormone deficiency. The authors note the effect on the body of growth hormone deficiency in young adults is equivalent to 40 years of aging. The theory that growth hormone functions to preserve our tissues during youth and aging results from its absence, appears confirmed by these results.
Most normal young adults arenâ€™t growth hormone deficient and the population that would qualify for growth hormone treatment from this group is small. What about older adults with low growth hormone who are troubled by the â€œnaturalâ€ decline in their body function? Should or could we treat this much larger population with growth hormone? It is my experience that private and federal insurers will not pay for this treatment regarded as â€œcosmeticâ€. On the other hand, there will be physicians who will comply with a request for growth hormone treatment from individuals who possess enough cash and motivation. Less affluent or determined individuals will have to contend with natural aging just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or treatment.
Gary Pepper, M.D.
Metabolism.com is pleased to share the following article provided by our guest contributor, Tom Hines.
In some ways, your body is like a machine — it works best when itâ€™s properly maintained and tuned up. Food is your fuel and when you fill your tank with lousy fuel, your engine sputters and stalls. If your bodyâ€™s engine is sluggish and needs a jumpstart, spirulina and other green superfoods can help deliver the energy necessary to keep the machine running smoothly, avoiding a breakdown.
Spirulina is a â€˜green superfood,â€™ a term used to describe various nutrient-rich natural supplements, which include Chlorella, Wheat Grass, Barley Grass, Alfalfa and Kelp. Unlike most store-bought supplements, the concentrated vitamins and minerals they provide are not synthetic. Green superfoods are whole foods harvested directly from nature and are exactly what your body needs to offset stress and to clear away toxins.
SAD is very sad indeed
S.A.D. stands for Standard American Diet â€“ there was never a more apt acronym. The majority of U.S. citizens today subsist on processed fast food laden with refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. Meats are frequently tainted with growth hormones, antibiotics and pathogens. For people who manage to work the recommended five to nine daily servings of fruit and vegetables into their diet, modern agricultural techniques have stripped crops of many vitamins and minerals.
Processed and cooked foods, which are the cornerstones of the S.A.D, and beverages such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol create an acidic blood pH, encouraging the growth of bacteria, fungus and mold. In an overly acidic environment, the body literally begins to compost. Illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes are often the result of the composting process. Green superfoods have an alkalizing effect, counteracting the acidity caused by poor diet, stress and toxic overload and setting the stage for a return to good health.
Spirulina and Chlorella, the most super of the green superfoods
Spirulina is a blue-green algae whose name comes from its spiral coil shape. High quality spirulina thrives in both salt and fresh water in tropical climates and it is known to have nourished the Aztecs, who harvested the algae from Lake Texcoco. Some of the benefits of Spirulina are:
- Contains all of the essential amino acids vital to human health
- An excellent protein source for all vegetarians, including vegans
- Balances blood sugar by boosting glycogen, which offsets insulin
- Rich in GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and other essential fatty acids Delivers an array of vitamins, including the all-important folic acid
- High in potassium and a dozen other minerals
- Improves focus and mental clarity
Chlorella is a single-celled green algae whose name is derived from Greek and Latin words that translate to â€œlittle green.â€ In the 1940â€™s and 1950â€™s, intensive research was done on little green algaeâ€™s potential role in solving world hunger, due to its high protein content and its bounty of beneficial vitamins and minerals. The natural health community, meanwhile, has always touted Chlorellaâ€™s health-imparting properties, particularly in the area of detoxification. In addition to being the very best source of chlorophyll, here are some more of Chlorella supplement benefits:
- Rids the body of toxins and stored waste
- Tones and cleanses the blood
- Reduces body odor, acting as an internal deodorant
- Improves bowel health and reduces flatulence
- Naturally freshens the breath
- Clears the skin
Cereal grasses and seaweed
Wheat grass is a popular juicing ingredient due to its superior nutrition, which it delivers without raising blood sugar. It also helps to lower blood pressure.
Barley grass alkalizes the blood and strengthens the digestive system.
Alfalfa helps reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol, without affecting levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol and studies are underway to determine its effectiveness at lowering blood sugar levels and its ability to invigorate the immune system.
Kelp is a brown-algae seaweed, which grows in abundant kelp forests in shallow oceans all around the world. Kelp is rich in iodine and therefore beneficial to overall thyroid health. Its high vitamin and mineral content promotes pituitary and adrenal gland health as well. Itâ€™s renowned for its contribution to lustrous hair and skin. Taken shortly after exposure, it can also mitigate the negative ramifications of heavy metals and irradiation.
Making the most of green superfoods
Incorporating Spirulina, Chlorella and other green superfoods into the diet is easy, since they are all available in powdered form. Simply mix the desired amount into salad dressing, or add it to soup, juice or water. The taste is fresh and green and the active enzymes of living food add a healthy dimension even to a less than healthy meal. Of course, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people taking medications should consult with their doctors before incorporating any new food into their diets.
Many people who regularly incorporate green superfoods into their daily regimen have reported increased energy, mental clarity and an overall healthy glow. When stress, toxic thoughts and an imperfect diet have left your bodyâ€™s engine sluggish, green superfoods are a quick and easy way to put yourself back on the road to health. Long may you run!
About the Author
Tom Hines, co-owner of NutritionGeeks.com (MN #1 Now Foods herbal provider), has been working in the nutrition industry since 1997, is a competitive powerlifter, lives with his wife Netti and three boys TJ, Grady and Brock on the prairie in west central Minnesota, spends his leisure time coaching youth wrestling, working with his horses and being play toy #1 for his boys.
At metabolism.com we receive a lot of questions from members wondering whether growth hormone therapy will help them grow taller. Lorraine’s question, posted below, is typical. The single most important factor determining the effect of growth hormone on improving height, is whether the bone still has growth plates that are “open” because when the growth plates close (or fuse), the bone cannot get any longer. If the bone’s in the legs cannot grow full adult height has been achieved and taking growth hormone won’t change that.
Here is Lorraine’s question and below that is my response.
Lorraine writes to metabolism.com:
Iâ€™m 21 years old and am only 4 â€œ10. Is there any way that HGH injections could help me grow a couple of inches? Please respond back to my question because I need to know if its too late since I already hit puberty.
My response to Lorraine is the following (I’m assuming Lorraine is really 21…not 12)
From the time of birth we grow rapidly in good part due to the action of growth hormone which is released from the pituitary gland.
At puberty the release of testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls begins the process of final bone maturation. Children often experience a period of rapid growth known as a growth spurt at this time. Girls usually complete their growth spurt within a year or two of their first menstrual period. Boys tend to finish their growth phase when they are older compared to girls.
Growth ends because the areas of the bones known as the growth plates become sealed or fused. After that growth hormone has little effect to cause increased height. Bones in the face, feet and hands may still be susceptible to growth effects of growth hormone, with not particularly desirable results.
An adult who has not grown in a few years cannot generally get taller in response to growth hormone due to the fusion of their long bones. Taking HGH is unlikely to make you taller.
Aside from controlling height, growth hormone is likely to have other non-growth related benefits like preserving muscle and soft tissue and perhaps other general maintenance functions in the immune and central nervous systems. These benefits of growth hormone can be lost during aging since the pituitary production of growth hormone usually declines in later years.
I hope this information is helpful for you.
Disclaimer: This information does not substitute for the advice of your own physician and is for general learning purposes only.