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The key role your adrenal glands play in answering that question
When most people think about their adrenal glands, the first thing that pops into their mind is the word adrenaline, the “fight-or-flight” hormone that puts us into survival mode in times of danger.
But there is a lot more to the adrenal glands than fulfilling that vital function
As with most of the body’s functions, balance is required to maintain health. And the adrenal glands are no different. They perform their job with pinpoint, precise accuracy and provide us with the hormones we need when we need them, and in the exact amounts we need for the circumstance.
To understand how important our adrenal glands are, we will begin by taking a detailed look at the anatomy of the glands, where they are located, the hormones they secrete, and what could go wrong with the adrenal glands functioning.
Where are the adrenal glands located?
Despite the fact that the adrenal glands are a part of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (better known as the HPA axis), they are not bundled tightly to the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. In fact, they are not even located in the brain. They reside just above your kidneys, with one gland sitting on top of one kidney. Obviously, they have a powerful impact on your kidney function.
Most glands and organs that come in pairs are symmetrical. But the adrenals are not. The left adrenal gland is shaped almost like a half-moon, while the right gland is triangular shaped. They are large compared to most glands, measuring approximately 2.5 inches in length, 3 inches in length and 1 inch in width.
What are the different parts of the adrenal glands?
There are three distinct sections of the adrenal glands:
The capsule. Similar to the outer layers of the body (fat and skin), the capsule provides protection to each adrenal gland.
The cortex. This is the outer part of the adrenal gland and comprises its largest part (approximately 80%). The cortex is divided into three zones: zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata, and zona reticularis. The cortex is responsible for producing hormones that are essential for life by regulating our blood pressure, controlling our metabolism and enabling us to respond to stress
The medulla. This is the inner part of the adrenal gland, located in the middle and surrounded by the cortex. It is approximately 20% of the gland.
What are the functions of these three parts?
The role of the capsule is to provide protection to the glands. That’s it. Important role but not too much to elaborate about.
As mentioned, the cortex consists of three separate zones that have three distinct roles. The zona recticularis is the deepest layer of the gland. It’s role is to manufacture hormones such as Dehydroepiandrosterone/dehydroepiandrostenedione (DHEA) also known as androstenolone.
The end product can be converted into testosterone, although in men the adrenals play a secondary role in testosterone production to the testes. For women, the adrenals are the main provider of that male hormone.
The zona fasciculate is located in the middle of the adrenal gland and is in charge of secreting cortisol and its similar compounds. These hormones are critically important since they are responsible for a number of life-sustaining functions. Cortisol will be discussed in detail later, as it is a many-faceted hormone.
The zona glomerulosa is the part of the cortex responsible for producing mineralocorticiods and excreting fluids and minerals.
The medulla is not as large as the cortex, but it is every bit as important: it manages our response to stress. The medulla secretes three separate catecholamines: epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine and dopamine. The definition of catecholamines is any of a group of chemically related neurotransmitters, as epinephrine and dopamine, which have similar effects on the sympathetic nervous system.
As a result of stress, our brain signals the adrenal glands to react quickly by releasing stress hormones, especially cortisol. These hormones prepare us for battle and danger by withdrawing blood from the skin to the brain and internal organs, make us more alert and slow down our digestive system.
Also, adrenaline causes our blood sugar levels to spike by converting glycogen to glucose in the liver. Norepinephrine teams up with epinephrine in reacting to stress. It causes the narrowing of blood vessels, a condition known as vasoconstriction. This can cause high blood pressure.
So far the point has been made that there are goods reasons why most people think of adrenaline (fight-or-flight) and cortisol (stress) when considering the adrenal glands. But these glands do more – much, much more to keep us alive and healthy.
Here’s a look at the many of the body’s internal functions that are controlled by the adrenal glands:
Circadian Rhythm. The adrenal glands release their hormones in cycles known as the circadian rhythm. This is a 24-hour cycle with the highest levels secreted in the morning and the fewest levels released in the evening. This is a delicate cycle and if it is disrupted many important bodily functions are knocked out of whack such as the immune system and energy production.
Fighting fatigue by producing sufficient amounts of energy. This condition relates directly to the circadian rhythm cycle. If this rhythm is not performing precisely, constant fatigue, difficulty getting up in the morning and mid-afternoon energy crashes are common outcomes. Cortisol is responsible for converting the nutrients we consume (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) into energy. When the level of cortisol is balanced our bodies process these nutrients efficiently, resulting in a continual cycle of high energy.
Keeping our muscles and joints functioning at a high level. The adrenal hormones and the cycles they regulate play a huge and crucial role in tissue healing. When the glands are under-performing, the lack of tissue repair leads to much larger problems such as muscle and joint pain which at times can become chronic. This imbalance can also result in weakness in the hip and shoulder girdle muscles.
Strengthening our bones and preventing osteoporosis. The adrenal hormones also play a role in building and strengthening our bones. This is tied into our ability to obtain deep, relaxing, and restorative sleep. If our stress levels are high, so is our cortisol levels. This can interfere with our bone’s ability to obtain the calcium they need. Worse, excess cortisol can weaken the bones by leaching calcium from them, causing a loss of minerals.
Boosting our immune system. Again, the culprit is high cortisol levels usually as a result of high-stress levels. This reduces secretory IgA (SigA) which is known as the mucous membrane surface antibody. This vital substance helps our immune system battle a wide array of problems by blocking bacteria, viruses, plasmids and toxins. When Sig A is not doing its job, we are more prone to afflictions such as sinus infections, bronchitis, sore throat, stomach and duodenal ulcers, gallbladder inflammation, colitis, vaginal, kidney and bladder infections and reflux esophagitis.
Low cortisol levels can also wreak havoc on our immune system. The body is in a finely-tuned balance in so many ways, even cortisol levels. Too low levels of cortisol can cause our immune system to become overly aggressive and attack both invaders and beneficial environmental agents in the body.
Allowing us to enjoy the deep, restorative sleep that is so important to our overall health. Here again, our cortisol levels enter into the picture. If stress is raging out of control, our cortisol levels will also be high. In this state rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is difficult to attain. REM sleep is the deep, restorative sleep that is so needed to keep our energy levels high the following day. If REM sleep is elusive, the result is fatigue, crankiness, weight-gain and even depression.
Giving our skin the ability to regenerate. Nighttime gives our skin the opportunity to renew. Again, the same simple formula: elevated cortisol = lower skin rejuvenation. The cause is (pardon the pun) more than skin deep. It relates to our levels of zinc and copper. Low zinc and high copper levels are often seen in people with skin problems. The connection is this: excess copper ramps up the transition of dopamine to norepinephrine and adrenalin which leads to excess cortisol. If that weren’t bad enough, low dopamine levels increase the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Keeping our thyroid levels correct. The proper functioning of the thyroid gland is critical to our health in many ways, especially preventing weight-gain and boosting our energy levels. The thyroid is at times referred to as the body’s thermometer, and another analogy is the cleaner in your furnace. If it is under-performing, the condition is called hypothyroidism. The symptoms are increased sensitivity to cold, weight-gain and chronic fatigue. These conditions are directly related to adrenal hormonal imbalances, especially high cortisol levels.
Preventing loss of libido. As previously mentioned, stress causes cortisol levels to skyrocket. To provide all the additional cortisol needed as a result of this stress the body in its inherent wisdom economizes on producing sex hormones to produce more cortisol. In particular, the sex hormone progesterone is practically “cannibalized” as the body’s production shift to cortisol. Progesterone plays a key role in converting testosterone into dihydrotesterone (DHT). The result? Low testosterone levels, elevated DHT levels, balding, prostate expansion, headaches, and low libido.
The myth of cortisol release and long workouts
Here’s another example of why the complex balance of cortisol levels is so important and misunderstood. Bodybuilders have been preached to, seemingly forever, about the dangers of long workouts. The consensus seems to be that one-hour is about it. Anything beyond that will send your body into a “catabolic” state. Catabolic refers to a process of breaking down muscle, while anabolic is building muscle.
The culprit, we were told, was cortisol. Extended sessions in the gym would over-stress our bodies, and our overworked adrenals would open the floodgates of cortisol. In theory, this makes sense.
However, as has been discussed, cortisol is not a simple hormone to understand. It does not respond precisely to an artificially imposed time limit. A brief, intense 15-minute session of high-intensity interval training can cause an increase in cortisol.
In fact, studies have shown that short, intense sessions produce the most muscle growth AND the most cortisol. Our muscles need stress to grow. Therefore, workouts lasting longer than 1-hour will not automatically shrink muscles and decrease strength.
The take-away is this: our hormones work together as a team. And cortisol is a vital player on that team. Too much cortisol may not always be bad. Conversely, too little cortisol may not always be good. To repeat, it is vital to keep our cortisol levels in proper balance.
What could go wrong with my adrenal glands?
There is no one single cause for adrenal gland problems. Trouble could arise from within the gland itself or from another gland. Remember, the endocrine system is a series of intricate relationships and one gland can at times affect another.
Here are a few common disorders of the adrenal glands:
Addison’s disease. This is an auto-immune disease when the body’s immune system goes haywire and attacks the adrenal glands. The result is that the adrenal cortex doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of cortisol and aldosterone. This can occur at any time to anyone regardless of age.
Adrenal cancer. Fortunately, this is a very rare affliction. There is some uncertainty as to the cause of adrenal cancer. What is known is that many of the same reasons that cause cancer in general also apply to adrenal cancer: age, family history and smoking.
Cushing’s syndrome. This is also a rare condition that is the opposite of Addison’s disease. Instead of producing too little cortisol, Cushing’s disease results in the adrenal’s producing too much cortisol. The are several different causes of this disorder which will be covered in detail below.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This is a genetic condition characterized by low levels of cortisol. As a result many who suffer from this affliction to have other hormone problems such as low levels of aldosterone (which maintains a balance between salt and water.
Other causes can be tuberculosis, bleeding directly into the adrenals and other infections of the glands.
The causes, testing and treatment for Cushing’s Syndrome
Cushing’s Syndrome is naned after a physician, Dr. Harvey Cushing. In 1932, Dr. Cushing observed eight patients with the following symptoms: obesity, emotional instability, menstrual irregularities, Excessive hair growth, hypertension, osteoporosis, glucose intolerance and kidney stones. These are the symptoms that characterize Cushing’s syndrome.
The cause is an excess manufacture of cortisol by the adrenal glands. As mentioned earlier, cortisol is powerful – extremely powerful and operates in a finely-tuned, delicate balance. Too much cortisol = problems with many different cells throughout the body.
Like other problems with the adrenal glands, Cushing’s Syndrome is most uncommon (10 people in one million).
The pituitary gland controls the production of cortisol in the adrenals. Therefore problems in the pituitary like a tumor can spill over into the adrenals. Or the adrenals themselves could develop a tumor. When the pituitary secretes an excessive amount of adreno corticotropic hormone (ACTH), this can result in the adrenal gland’s pumping out high levels of cortisol.
This kind of Cushing’s Syndrome is called Cushing’s Disease and is diagnosed by measuring hormone production. When this disease is present serum cortisol levels will be raised, and serum ACTH will also be excessive.
When a tumor develops in the adrenals, they react like any other gland in the endocrine system: pushing out excessive amounts of the hormone produced by the gland. Obviously, if the adrenal tumor is made up of cortisol-producing cells, the result is excess cortisol manufacturing.
At this point, the pituitary’s “radar” will sense the abnormally high cortisol levels and cease producing ACTH to try to slow this process back to normal. Measuring these levels of ACTH is the blueprint physicians use to determine this condition.
On very rare occasions excess ACTH originates somewhere other than the pituitary. This is serious, since lung cancer can produce ACTH.
To sum up, here is the breakdown of the causes of Cushing’s Syndrome:
ACTH Dependent (80%)
Pituitary tumors (60%)
Lung Cancer (5%)
ACTH Independent (20%)
Benign adrenal tumors (adenoma) (25%)
Malignant adrenal tumors (adrenal cell carcinoma) (10%)
The testing for Cushing’s Syndrome begins with measuring the level of cortisol secreted in a 24-hour period. The test is repeated at least once. A 24-hour free cortisol level greater than 100 micrograms is indicative of Cushing’s Syndrome.
The treatment of Cushing’s Syndrome naturally depends on the cause. If the cause is a pituitary tumor, the tumor is removed either surgically or with radiation therapy. If the cause resides in a single adrenal gland, this is surgically removed. If the tumor is cancerous, a larger, more complex operation follows. If a single adrenal gland tumor is small and easy to see, it is removed by a laparoscopic adrenalectomy (surgical removal of the adrenal gland).
The importance of the adrenal glands should by now be obvious. The levels of cortisol must be kept in a delicate balance; not too much or too little. So what can you do to keep your adrenal glands working in good order?
The causes of cortisol imbalance and the solutions
Skipping meals, especially breakfast. Cortisol levels rise after fasting for approximately 5 hours. The longer we delay refueling, the more cortisol levels keep rising. In fact, if they zoom way too far past the normal range they may stay elevated all day.
Not getting adequate rejuvenating sleep. The circadian rhythm cycle is there for a reason. If it is in sync, the body will release hormones on schedule. If not, hormone secretion is disrupted with consequences that can be most unpleasant. Make getting adequate amounts of sleep a top priority.
Chronic poor posture with the chin protruding. Poor posture often is overlooked when considering cortisol. But a caveman posture with the shoulders and hips flexed can mimic the “flight-or-fight” posture that causes a huge release of cortisol and catecholamines. If that weren’t bad enough, the “chin forward” posture impedes signals from the spinal cord, causing them to stop in the middle of the brain. This slows our thoughts and reflexes. Also, poor posture prevents protein from adequately stimulating the brain which will cause the brain cells to eventually shrink. “Use-it-or-lose-it” is as important to the brain as it is to the body. Remember mom’s advice: stand up straight!
Pain – both physical and mental. Cortisol can protect us from pain. But if left unchecked it can spiral out of control and do far more harm than good. Insomnia, weight-gain, muscle weakness, fatigue, and infections are signs of adrenal burnout. Don’t ignore chronic, intense pain. Deal with it.
Constant stress that is not dealt with properly. Excess, chronic stress can be deadly if not dealt with properly. Cortisol’s main purpose is to help you deal with extreme stress. It pours out in massive doses during the “fight-or-flight” response, as well as starvation and other seriously stressful situation. Why does the body release this much cortisol? The answer goes back to our far-flung caveman ancestors. They often needed to swing into action immediately to get lunch or avoid being lunch. Naturally, this resulted in a floodgate of cortisol release. However, those situations were usually over quickly. Our bodies are not designed to deal with the continual cortisol bombardment caused by traffic jams, office politics, demanding spouses, etc. This is why we need to keep our cortisol levels under control. Meditation, exercise, socializing, hobbies – there are many ways to combat and control stress. Make sure you find the right path for you.
High cortisol now = low cortisol later
This seeming paradox has a logical explanation. Constant stress and “burning the candle at both ends” robs the body of another vital hormone: pregnenolone, the so-called “mother of all hormones”. Here’s why. When the adrenal glands are forced to continually pump out large amounts of cortisol, the body is forced to go after the supply of pregnenolone to make more cortisol. This stops pregnenolone from making other healthy hormones such as DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone.
Eventually, this vicious cycle takes its toll, resulting in burn-out and low cortisol levels. As mentioned repeatedly, low cortisol is as problematic as excess cortisol.
The good news
It is not incredibly difficult to maintain normal levels of cortisol. The solutions to the problem are mentioned in the above section that lists the problems of cortisol imbalance.
The cortisol imbalance plays a crucial role in slowing down and even at times halting the aging process. High or low levels of cortisol are guaranteed to ravage the body both internally and externally. If you are concerned about the debilitating the effects of aging, follow the simple, common sense solutions listed above…and turn back the hands of time!
Protein: The Facts You Need To Know
Protein. It’s known as a building block…one of the most important building blocks in the body. It’s essential for life. Bodybuilders and strength athletes swear by it. Any eating plan includes it.
Yet there are few other well-known nutrients that have so much confusion continually swirling about them. For example:
- There are different types of protein. Which ones are the best? And what is the best way to take them?
- Is there a good time to take them?
- How much protein can you absorb at one time?
- What are “complete proteins”? How do they differ from “incomplete” proteins?
- Does protein really help to burn more calories than fats or carbohydrates, and help with weight-loss? If so, why?
- How much protein is recommended on a daily basis?
- Can you consume too much protein? Or too little?
These are the most common questions concerning protein. The good news is that the answers are really not too complicated even though at first glance they seem to be. To get going, the first question is “what is protein”?
The scientific definition of protein is: any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds that consist of large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.
Bodybuilders have a far simpler definition: “The more protein you intake, the more you’ll grow.” Protein is something bodybuilders take seriously…very seriously.
Vegetarians have a different take on protein. They are often asked where they get their protein, and their answer is usually along the lines of “humans don’t require as much protein as commonly thought, and what we do need is easy to get from vegetables (especially greens), nuts, soy, beans, and grains.”
Both these groups (and everyone else) require protein for building and repairing our tissues, giving us strength and energy, assisting in digestion and a wide array of other vital bodily functions. Sothere is universal agreement that at least some amount of protein is required for good health. Now the question is how to get it?
Beef, wild game (Bison, Venison), pork, seafood, eggs, milk, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, poultry (turkey and chicken), peanut butter, lentils, nuts and seeds, vegetables (spinach, peas,), quinoa, amaranth and soy are all sources of protein derived from food.
Additionally, many athletes and fitness buffs feed their need for additional protein through supplemental protein powders taken in the form of shakes.
The difference between complete and incomplete proteins
Complete proteins consist of all the essential amino acids that the body requires on a daily basis. Incomplete proteins contain only some of the essential amino acids.
Protein derived from animals (meat, fish, and dairy) is considered complete protein. Certain plant and grain-based proteins (quinoa, amaranth, and soy) are considered complete. Other plant-based proteins are considered incomplete since they provide us with some but not all essential amino acids.
However, for vegetarians, all is not lost. By combining certain incomplete proteins – for example, rice and beans, or peanut butter and whole-grain bread – they can consume complete proteins that are meatless and dairy-free.
Types of Proteins
There are three general types or forms of protein: Whey, Casein, and Soy. There are also Isolates (quicker absorbing proteins), egg protein and hydrolysate (highly absorbable peptides). But the first three mentioned are what we will be concerned with. Keep these three in mind – their difference rates of absorption are very important.
Here’s why protein is so important for weight-loss
Recent studies have confirmed that protein can indeed speed up weight-loss in both men and women…at least TWICE AS FAST!
How could this be? The reason is not all that difficult. The key is the thermic effect of food (TEF). In plain English, this means the number of calories needed to digest and process food. To put it another way, TEF measures how much energy is used up in the process of metabolizing what we eat.
Here’s the key. Fat is the lowest nutrient on the thermal burn scale; the body only uses 5 calories to metabolize 100 grams of fat. Carbohydrates are next up on the scale; our body expends 15 calories to metabolize 100 carb calories.
Protein, however, is off the chart! It requires a whopping 35 calories for every 100 calories of protein intake for metabolism.
This is why diets that are high-fat and high carb spell DISASTER. Let’s reduce these numbers to percentages and fractions. Protein burns up more than twice the amount of carbs and a mind-blowing SEVEN TIMES the amount of fats. Wow! This is why protein is a calorie-incinerating furnace.
When your diet is loaded with protein you can consume extra calories “on the house”. Here’s an example. Assume that your daily calorie intake is 2,000, and 1,000 of those calories are derived from protein. In effect, since your body has to burn 350 calories to metabolize the 1,000 grams of protein, your total calorie intake is almost magically reduced to 1,650!
Protein is definitely the “King of Thermogenesis” i.e. fat-burning.
How much protein can be absorbed per meal?
This is a question that seems to pop up continually. Bodybuilders have long insisted that there is a limit as to how much protein can go to work to build muscle immediately after consumption. Some studies claimed that 30 grams were the limit, while others said 40, and still other said 50.
Since bodybuilding common knowledge is that more is better in everything, including protein intake, many bodybuilders are told to consume 300 to 400 grams of protein daily. Even with a 50-gram upper limit, that’s 8 to 10 meals and/or protein shakes daily. For the overwhelming majority of people, this is difficult if not impossible to accomplish.
However, as usual, things are not that clear-cut. For one thing, muscle building is not protein’s only function. Protein breaks down into amino acids, which then build hormones, enzymes, strengthen our immune systems and move and store molecules.
These activities occur at different times. This calls into question the several protein meals a day requirement.
Also, even among bodybuilders, there is no agreed upon consensus. Most agree that you need to experiment and monitor the results.
There is a host of additional factors involved in protein absorption. Age, activity level, your musculature and your level of hormones, especially IGF-1.
If all of this weren’t confusing enough, the type of protein your ingest enters into the equation. Whey protein is absorbed in approximately 8-10 grams per hour. Casein has an absorption rate of 6.1 grams per hour, soy is 3.9 grams per hour, and a cooked egg is 2.9 grams per hour.
The thing to remember is that the type of protein you’re taking figures into the absorption rate.
How much protein is recommended on a daily basis?
Here again we are all across the board. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
However, in the opinion of most researchers, these meager amounts are woefully inadequate. As was mentioned earlier, protein is vital to any weight-loss effort. Knowing this, why sell yourself short and make the already difficult task of losing weight even more challenging?
Most studies have concluded that the optimum amount of protein should be around 30%. This translates into a daily intake of 150 grams for a dieter on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. This can be calculated by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.
The above numbers answer the question of “can I consume too small amounts of protein”?
Conversely, you can consume too much protein. The results are weight-gain usually in the form of unwanted blubber, kidney problems, dehydration and feeling miserable.
There is no hard and fast data to determine exactly how much protein is too much. As discussed earlier, there are the same factors to consider such as your age, musculature, hormones and physical activity. The key is to be aware of the symptoms of too much protein and dial it back if you are experiencing any or all of them.
As always, you need to experiment and monitor your body’s feedback to find the exact amount that is neither too much or too little.
When to consume protein
You can’t go wrong by taking protein immediately following a grueling workout. You have just attacked and torn down your muscle tissue and for it to recover and grow stronger protein is needed.
There is also benefit in having a protein shake before bed. This will prevent your body from becoming catabolic during sleep. A catabolic state is a condition brought on by over-training and insufficient nutrition, especially protein. The effects are joint aches and pains, insomnia, muscle weakness, fatigue and an inability to grow muscles…definitely not the desired outcome for anyone concerned about fitness and muscle-building.
A nighttime protein shake should be casein protein or a casein/soy mix. This is due to their slow release of protein which will keep your muscles fed throughout the night.
Other studies have shown that the best time for protein intake is immediately upon arising. The rationale here is that morning is the optimum time to kick-start your metabolism. At least 30 grams should be taken, and 50 grams is even better.
So what have we learned?
Hopefully, the facts presented have helped you clarify the confusion about protein. To review, here are the key takeaways:
- Protein is so important for weight-loss. Memorize the measuring scale of the thermic effect of food (TEF). More protein = more calories expended
- There is no “best type” of protein. They all have their strengths, depending on when they are ingested. Just remember to combine incomplete proteins to make them complete if they are your main source of protein
- There are a few times that are optimal for protein intake. Immediately after a workout, before going to bed, and especially first thing in the morning upon arising are times to strive for
- There are no specific amount of grams of protein that will be best for everyone. Our bodies are similar yet different and therefore we all respond differently. Experiment with different amounts of protein at different times, keep detailed records of your results and go from there
- Meet most of your protein needs through food. Meat and dairy are complete proteins but don’t be deterred if these are not on your menu. Intelligent combining of incomplete protein will ensure you can easily meet your protein requirements
- Here is a brief guide to help you remember the protein content of food. An ounce of meat or fish has about 7 grams of protein. Eggs contain 6 grams, one cup of milk has 8 grams, ½ cup of cottage cheese contains 15 grams, cheese contains about 10 grams per ounce most beans contain 7-10 grams of protein per half cup of cooked beans, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter deliver 8 grams and ¼ cup of almonds provide you with 8 grams
- Don’t forget to supplement with protein shakes. It can be difficult in the fast-paced world we live in to always eat smartly and correctly. Protein shakes can’t replace protein ingested from food, and they are not intended to. They are referred to as supplements for a reason. However, they are quick, convenient, and deliver protein quickly. This is especially important soon after a strenuous workout. Whey protein is absorbed quickly so it should be your first choice immediately following your training session. Casein and soy proteins have a slower absorption rate, and therefore have a place on your protein intake menu at other times than right after your workout
- Don’t forget to stay hydrated. High protein intake can lead to dehydration. The good news is that dehydration is easy to avoid provided you remember this simple equation: the more protein you ingest the more water you need to drink
- Finally, make sure to keep your nutrition well-balanced. This will make sure your body is healthy and can respond beneficially to the increase of protein that you are delivering to it
The Pituitary Gland
Here’s Why it is referred to as “The Master Gland”
It’s small. About the size of a pea. It’s hidden in a bony cavern called the pituitary fossa, behind the bridge of the nose, between your ears and beneath the base of the brain. When compared to the body’s major organs (heart, liver, kidneys, stomach, etc.) it is often overlooked.
But it plays a constant, vital and life-preserving role every second of your life
The pituitary gland is often called “The Master Gland” since it acts as the control center for several other hormonal glands ( e.g., thyroid, adrenal, hypothalamus, pineal).
To put it simply: when it quits, you quit. Despite its size, this tiny gland is a powerhouse that manufactures hormones that influence several key functions in your body.
Here is a list of the important hormones produced by the pituitary:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This hormone is so important for our well-being. From blow-torching fat and easing joint aches and pains to skyrocketing your energy level and awakening your long-slumbering muscles, restoring your growth hormone to its youthful level is the ticket. How important is HGH? Here’s an easy way to remember: too little HGH = dwarfism. Too much = gigantism. Excess HGH can result in a condition called acromegaly, which causes facial features to become course and rough, a deepening voice and an unnatural growth of hands, feet and skull. The pituitary regulates growth hormone to keep it at a steady level
- Oxytocin. This is the so-called “love hormone” that restores emotional balance in testosterone-laden men and provides crucial help to women in childbirth, labor, and lactation. It also initiates labor and uterine contractions
- Prolactin. Important in the manufacturing of breast milk and nursing
- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone acts a thermometer by controlling the manufacture of thyroid gland hormones (T-3 and T-4)
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone regulates production of the so-called “stress hormone” cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that are produced in the adrenal gland
- Lutenizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). These two work as a team to play a huge role in fertility and pregnancy
- Anti-diuretic Hormone (ADH). This hormone is also known as vasopressin. It is produced in the hypothalamus gland and stored in the pituitary. It affects the production of urine by causing the kidneys to absorb more water, which results in less urine production. Alcohol interferes with the release of ADH which explains why many drinkers make a continual path to the bathroom due to greater urine flow
So you can see just how important the job of the pituitary gland is and why it is so critically important.
If just one of these hormones is deficient, this could spill over and affect the other hormones as well. The result? Abnormal body functions that manifest in a wide array of symptoms. Here is a list of the common symptoms experienced by those suffering from a problem with their pituitary gland:
- Extreme sensitivity to cold
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Weakness and constant fatigue
- Digestive disorders
- Excessive thirst
- Reduced appetite
- Stiff joints
- Decreased appetite
These are the general symptoms of pituitary problems. There are also specific symptoms that appear as a result of the type of pituitary hormone deficiency. Here’s a list of them by individual hormones:
- Growth hormone (GH) deficiency. In children, this can result in slow growth and short height. In adults, a lack of growth hormone cam cause an increase in fat, muscle weakness and accelerated aging
- Lutenizing hormone (LH) and Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) deficiency. When these hormones are lacking there is often a drop in libido, infertility, vaginal dryness and unusual menstrual periods in women and erectile dysfunction in men
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) deficiency. Here we often see extremely pale skin, blood pressure dropping to unhealthy levels, low serum sodium levels and pain and discomfort in the digestive system
- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) deficiency. Thyroid problems are all-too-common, and result in dry skin, low red blood cells count, extreme sensitivity to cold, unwanted weight-gain and ugly swelling throughout the body, digestive problems, and difficulties concentrating and remembering
Ugly, ugly ugly. Again, you can see just how important this minute gland is, along with its importance. But before we delve into the cause of pituitary problems and how they are treated, let’s take a deeper look into exactly how the pituitary functions.
As mentioned earlier, the pituitary gland is the control center of several hormones. In that role, it is part of a messenger system, and since it originates the messages, it is considered the most important part of the endocrine system. The pituitary controls the body’s functions by sending these various hormones into your bloodstream.
Then the blood carries them to their target, which causes the release of other hormones. The targets may be body tissues such as clusters of cells. Or the final destination of these hormones can also be specialized endocrine glands.
Why is this important? Because hormones are chemical couriers that assist the body’s organs in communicating with each other. Without this constant interplay, the body’s balance, or homeostasis, can be knocked out of whack.
These hormones control metabolism, blood pressure, growth, certain functions of the sex organs and pain relief.
This is important for a variety of reasons
These hormones are the key to maintaining the body’s internal environment. Temperature, water, salt, oxygen, calcium, protein, sugar, fat – all of these need to be kept at steady levels. This complex interplay goes on continually and without it, our systems would go haywire.
Remember, the body is in a constant state of change. Every function from blood pressure, temperature and heart beat all respond to the ever-changing environment (both external and internal) to maintain homeostasis. The glands of the body, including the pituitary, are involved in a continual circuit.
Here’s an example
The hypothalamus tracks the hormonal levels in all of the various glands. Wen these levels drop below a certain level the hypothalamus kicks in to release additional hormones. These released hormones then travel to the pituitary and are targeted to the area where they’re needed.
For example, let’s consider the thyroid gland. The hypothalamus manufactures a hormone named thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). Then TRH moves to the pituitary and causes the pituitary to release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
Next, TSH moves to the thyroid gland and stimulates the release of two other thyroid hormones: T-3 and T-4. When these levels rise to the normal amount, this is noticed by the hypothalamus and signals that gland to stop releasing more TRH.
This is referred to as negative feedback and is crucial to maintaining homeostasis. If this didn’t occur, the levels would continue to rise, and be as much of a problem as low levels.
Consider this. This endless cycle goes on continually, involving different messages, signals, and hormones. The complexity is amazing, and the glands must work as a highly efficient team to get the job done. And they need the control center of the pituitary to coordinate this array of assignments.
The anatomy of the pituitary
The pituitary has two main parts: the front of the gland called the anterior pituitary and the back of the gland called the posterior pituitary.
The difference between these parts is simple. They release different hormones aimed at different areas of the body. The anterior pituitary releases seven different hormones, while the posterior releases only two.
Additionally, there is another region of the gland located between the two main parts called the intermediate part, which releases only one hormone.
Finally, there is the stalk, which is the connecting highway between the pituitary posterior and the hypothalamus gland.
The effects of pituitary disorders
Hopefully, by now you can appreciate this continual, delicate and precise balance between the hormones of the body. The pituitary must continue to function at optimal levels; activity levels must not be excessive or insufficient.
When the pituitary produces an excess of one of its hormones, here are a few of the possible resulting conditions:
- Acromegaly. This is a condition which causes facial features to become course and rough, a deepening voice, an unnatural growth of hands, feet and skull, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cardiovascular problems, sleep apnea, carpal tunnel syndrome, increased snoring and pain – especially headaches
- Cushing’s syndrome. This debilitating condition occurs when the body is subject to a constant overload of the cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”. This can result from an overuse of coticosteroid medication, over-training, inability to deal with stress, poor nutrition and depression. It may cause weight gain, increased fat deposits, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, muscle weakness, weakening of bones and cognitive impairment
- Prolactinoma. This is a noncancerous (benign) pituitary tumor that produces a hormone called prolactin. The result is too much prolactin in the blood stream. This can cause headaches, decreased libido, infertility in women, erectile dysfunction in men, vision problems, nausea and vomiting and problems with the sense of smell
When the pituitary fails to produce a sufficient amount of its hormones the possible results include:
- Diabetes insipidus. This is an uncommon disorder that causes an imbalance of water in the body. Naturally, this causes intense thirst even after drinking copious amounts of liquid and excreting huge amounts of urine
- Injury to or tumors of the hypothalamus, which carries over to the pituitary
What causes pituitary problems?
After reading the consequences of pituitary dysfunction you can now see how important the healthy function of the gland is. To help you avoid these problems, let’s review the causes of them.
Pituitary tumors are the most frequent cause of pituitary problems and regrettably are somewhat common in adults. The good news is that they are not brain tumors and are usually benign (noncancerous).
There are two types of pituitary tumors: secretory and non-secretory. Secretory tumors produce an excess of pituitary hormones while non-secretory ones do not. However, both of these can wreak havoc if they become too large and begin to adversely affect the normal functioning of the pituitary or other close glands in the brain.
There are three categories of problematic conditions arising from these tumors:
- Hypersecretion. An excess of hormone levels in the body may be due to a secretory pituitary tumor
- Hyposecretion. Insufficient levels of any hormone in the body may be a result of a large pituitary tumor which puts direct pressure on the gland, which interferes the gland’s ability to produce the normal level of hormones. This can also result from surgery or radiation of a tumor
- Tumor size effects. As the tumor expands it presses against one or more of the glands in the region including the pituitary. The common effects are headaches and vision problems
As the tumor enlarges and continues to pressure the pituitary, this can result in the previously mentioned symptoms.
In addition to tumors, other causes of injury to the pituitary gland are certain types of medications and traumatic injury to the brain which can result in bleeding inside the brain close to the pituitary.
Also, the pituitary can also suffer damage from infections like tuberculosis, sarcoidosis (an inflammatory affliction that affects many organs in the body, usually the lungs) congenital and genetic origins and ischemia (restriction of blood supply to tissues, resulting in a shortage of oxygen or glucose necessary to keep the cells of the tissues alive).
Finally, there is a third condition causing pituitary problems: hypopituitarism. This is a rare condition that affects less than 200,000 people in the United States annually, with an incidence of 4.2 cases per 100,000 people per year.
There is a certain subset of the population that is over-represented in that statistic: anyone who has experienced a brain injury.
The definition of hypopituitarism is a condition in which the pituitary gland fails to produce one or more vital hormones or doesn’t produce them in sufficient amounts. The symptoms of this condition are similar to the symptoms resulting from hormone deficiency listed above.
Treatment of pituitary disorders
The first step in treating pituitary disorders is to identify the exact cause of the condition and the individual hormone that is causing the problem. Then the correct course of action can be determined. Often, hormone replacement therapy will be used to treat hypopituitarism.
There are some situations where proper management of the condition will result in a full recovery, and treatment may no longer be necessary. There are other instances where no treatment is required.
However, there are times when the hormone replacement therapy must continue on a life-long basis. Therefore, it is vitally important for patients undergoing this therapy to be aware of any changing circumstances in their lives that may require an adjustment to their treatment.
During times of high-stress, an increased level of hormones may be needed. This requires regular blood testing to keep an accurate measure of a patient’s hormone levels.
There are circumstances when surgery and radiotherapy may be needed for some patients. If the problem is an expanding tumor in the brain, it might have to be surgically removed, or killed with radiation.
As with so many health issues, it all comes down to the ancient cliché: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In other words, do all you can to protect your head. Wear protective headgear when you are in any kind of environment or doing any kind of activity that would have the risk of head injury.
Consider adding balance training to your exercise routine to prevent falls. It can be as simple as just taking the time to stand on one leg for a minute or two during the day. As we age, the consequences of falling are increasingly devastating, and good balance will put the odds in your favor. There are also many types of fitness equipment geared toward balance.
Prevent falls and protect your precious brain!
Most important, slow down. All too many accidents are a result of someone being in a hurry. Common sense needs to prevail. An extra minute or two here and there as opposed to a lifetime of pituitary problems should be rather easy to measure…and even easier to arrive at the correct conclusion.
Your endocrine system is a delicate, intricate system. Respect it, and it will continue to work its miracles for you.
Acidosis: The Hidden Health Destroyer
Your Most Important AND Little Known Measure of Good Health
What is the most important thing you should focus on for good health? Hint: it’s not your weight…or your BMI…or your cholesterol…or your triglycerides…or even your blood pressure. Without a doubt, these numbers are important. But there is one number that tells you more than these about your health, and you need to be aware of it to ward off disease and live pain-free:
Your Blood pH Level
The measure of acidity or alkaline in the body is potential hydrogen, or pH, which is expressed in a number between 0 and 14, and is usually measured through blood testing. A reading of 0 is pure acid, 7 is neutral, and 14 is pure alkaline. Without exception, all of your organs, bones, tissues and joints function at their best when your blood pH is slightly alkaline, which is around 7.35.
Here’s a brief look at the science behind acidosis
The stomach has a normal pH measure of approximately 4.0. Consuming high pH alkaline water causes the stomach pH to rise. When the stomach pH rises above 4.5, the stomach produces more hydrochloric acid. Here is the chemical formula of hydrochloric acid formation:
H20 + CO2 + NaCI = HCI =NaHCO3
The above formula tells us that water, carbon dioxide, and sodium chloride (salt) produce hydrochloric acid and sodium bicarbonate. The hydrochloric acid goes into the stomach, and the sodium bicarbonate goes into the bloodstream.
The key thing to remember is this: sodium bicarbonate works as an alkaline buffer in our blood. When the blood becomes too acidic, the alkaline buffer works to raise the pH. If we don’t have enough sodium bicarbonates in our blood, we have trouble controlling the excess acid, which can result in premature aging, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, kidney stones, and a plethora of many other health problems.
For optimum health, the body’s blood chemistry needs to be slightly alkaline, with a pH level ideally between 7.38 and 7.42. When the pH level strays too far above or below this level, disease and illness are likely to follow.
The important thing here is hydrogen ions (abbreviated with the chemical symbol H+). In water (H2O), a small number of the molecules separate. Some of the water molecules lose a hydrogen and become hydroxide ions (OH?). The missing hydrogen ions join up with water molecules to form hydronium ions (H3O+). To keep things simple, hydronium ions are referred to as hydrogen ions H+. In pure water, there are an equal number of hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions. The solution is neither acidic or basic.
An acid is a component that contributes hydrogen ions. As a result, when an acid is dissolved in water, the balance between hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions is shifted. Now, hydrogen ions outnumber hydroxide ions in the solution. The result is an acidic solution.
A base is a substance that accepts hydrogen ions. When a base is dissolved in water, the balance between hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions shifts the opposite way. Since the base absorbs hydrogen ions, the result is a solution with more hydroxide ions than hydrogen ions. This is an alkaline solution.
Acidity and alkalinity are measured with a logarithmic scale called pH. Logarithmic is defined as a number that shows how many times a base number (such as ten) is multiplied by itself to produce a third number (such as 100). Here is why a logarithmic scale is used: a strongly acidic solution can have one hundred million million (100,000,000,000,000) times more hydrogen ions than a strongly basic solution. Conversely, a strongly basic solution can have 100,000,000,000,000 times more hydroxide ions than a strongly acidic solution. Also, the hydrogen ion and hydroxide ion concentrations in everyday solutions can vary over that entire range.
To make things simpler, scientists use a logarithmic scale, the pH scale. Each one-unit change in the pH scale corresponds to a ten-fold change in hydrogen ion concentration. The pH scale is theoretically open-ended but most pH values are in the range from 0 to 14. It’s a lot easier to use a logarithmic scale instead of always having to write down all those zeros. Check out how one hundred million million is a one with fourteen zeros after it? It is not a coincidence, it is logarithms.
To be more precise, pH is the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration:
pH = ?log [H+]
The square brackets around the H+ mean “concentration” to a chemist. What the equation means is what was mentioned earlier: for each 1-unit change in pH, the hydrogen ion concentration changes ten-fold.
To dispense with the science, here’s what you need to remember: a can of the average soft drink has a pH of 3…a GIGANTIC 10,000 TIMES MORE ACIDIC THAN WATER! Something to consider when you reach for that next “refreshing pause”.
Here’s where things get interesting. As the number of hydrogen ions in a physical entity increases, so does its level of acidity. To reword things, acids emit hydrogen ions. A high concentration of hydrogen ions = an extremely acidic substance, which throws your pH balance way out-of-whack.
The chemical representation of water is H2O. Hydrogen and oxygen are the two main components of water. Hydrogen ions are a part of water’s chemical reaction, and the higher the concentration of hydrogen ions, the more acidic the water.
This pH balance is critical, and while it is possible to become too alkaline, the typical American diet, combined with environmental toxins, smoking and a lack of exercise means that the average person’s body tends to be acidic. It is possible to become too alkaline (known as alkalosis). However, due to the average American diet, a condition called acidosis (too much acid) is far more common.
Acidosis is defined as too much acid in the body, a distinctly abnormal condition resulting from the accumulation of acid or from the depletion of alkaline reserves. In acidosis, the pH of the blood is abnormally low.
Acidosis is a serious medical condition, with symptoms such as headache, confusion, coma, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, nausea, seizures, muscular weakness, and many more problems.
Why is this so important?
Very simple: when your pH level is even slightly acidic, things can begin to go wrong. Aches and pains become worse, and diseases and other afflictions can gain a foothold. For example:
The heart: Of all the organs, the heart is the most susceptible to environmental pollutants and premature aging. If there are acidic toxins in the blood, the heart is forced to work harder. Also, acid wastes in the system rob the blood of oxygen, which can cause heart tissue to deteriorate. It’s really a simple explanation: the heart needs oxygen. Low oxygen = acidosis.
The liver: The liver is responsible for several hundred vital functions, and two of them are removing acid wastes from the blood and making alkaline enzymes for the body. Considering the typical American diet, along with the environmental toxins we are constantly barraged with, the liver has to work hard to keep things on track. If this goes on too long, the liver may quit – and so will you
The kidneys: The kidneys help get rid of excess acid from the body. If the blood is too acidic, the kidneys are over-stressed, which can lead to serious health consequences
The digestive system: Foods that are acidic are hard for the stomach to break down, and the result is that the stomach may over-produce acid. This causes poor digestion, fewer nutrients being absorbed, and clogging the colon walls
Accelerated aging. An acidic environment weakens the body’s cellular structure. This results in making the entire system function less efficiently and speeds up the aging process
Fatigue. This can be explained by a simple reason: acidosis reduces the body’s supply of oxygen, which is a main source of energy
Loss of minerals. This unfortunate side effect of acidosis is a result of the body being forced to use its alkaline mineral supplies to neutralize excess acids in your fluids and tissues. Over time, this can have terrible and serious effects on the organs, as well as brittle nails, dry skin, sensitive gums and thinning hair
Brain fog. The brain requires approximately 20% of all the oxygen you take in. As mentioned above, acidosis reduces the body’s supply of oxygen. This may result in poor concentration, forgetfulness, and a host of other brain issues from mood swings to sleep impairment
Cancer. Two primary causes of cancer are an oxygen deficiency in the cells and tissues – and free radical damage. Alkalized, ionized water both boosts oxygenation and reduces oxidation. This suppresses unhealthy cells from pillaging the body. Consequently, when the body is in an alkaline state, there is powerful resistance to the growth and proliferation of cancer cells
If you are suffering from any of these problems, there is a good chance that you are overly acidic. This is true for so many people…and sad because there are solutions to this insidious condition…solutions that are common and easy to put to use.
The one time an acidic pH level is normal
If you’re still not convinced that acidosis is a serious health issue, think about this: the one time an acidic pH is normal is when you’re DEAD! This is the only time that an acidic pH level is what nature intended. Why? So the body can decompose.
Another reason to be concerned with your pH level
Disease grows far more easily in an acidic environment and has much greater difficulty thriving in an alkaline environment. In an acidic environment, we are forcing our bodies to work much harder than they are designed to. This explains why disease can get a foothold to cause illness.
A slightly alkaline body is important for optimum health. Many diseases cannot survive in an alkaline environment.
You will never achieve optimum health until you have the proper acid/alkaline balance in your body.
In addition, when the body is in this condition, it will lose much of its ability to rid itself of toxins. This will increase the chance of forcing you to rely on antibiotics. This will increase the chance of forcing you to rely on even more antibiotics and expose you to increased risk of nightmarish “superbugs” (a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotic drugs).
So let’s do something about this problem
But enough talk about the problems due to an acidic pH level. Let’s discuss ways to avoid these problems.
The key to getting your acid/alkaline ratio in balance is to make small changes to your diet and lifestyle. Nothing drastic…just add more alkaline foods to your diet, make sure your drinking water is not acidic and start feeling better and better each day.
In fact, as your body becomes more alkaline, your taste buds will change. This allows you to begin to taste the natural flavor of foods, and make eating correctly far easier than you could ever have imagined.
Another benefit that occurs when the acid-alkaline balance is restored is this: once the body begins to move away from acidosis, it will begin to detoxify by flushing out those acidic poisons. You will see and feel the difference with boundless energy, glowing skin, glistening hair, and losing pounds of unsightly, disease-producing fat.
You are what you eat, so choose the right foods
As with all matters concerning health, so much begins with proper, smart nutrition. Since the common American diet consists mainly of acidic foods (meat, dairy products, grains, and sweets) and toxins in the environment, most people have an acidic pH level, and are well on the road to acidosis, with all of the dreaded consequences of that debilitating condition.
Therefore, step one in restoring your body to its proper pH balance is to make wise food selections. It is important to be aware of the acid/alkaline content of food. Here is a brief breakdown of acid and alkaline foods that help and/or hurt:
Acid Forming Foods:
Alkaline Forming Foods:
White (navy) beans
Fresh red beet
Fresh cut green beans
It is, of course, nearly impossible to eat like a machine. Following the above list to a T is not only impossible but not needed. The key is to first become aware of acidic and alkaline foods, then begin to make a gradual shift to the alkaline side of the equation.
Hydration: another all-important weapon in the battle against acidosis
Drinking water that is acidifying can cause or worsen acidosis, which can lead to many serious health issues. Much of common tap water is acidic, due to external contaminants (chemical treatment, pollution and trace amounts of pharmaceuticals) and tap water’s chemical makeup of hydrogen ions.
As discussed earlier, much of common tap water is acidic, and may contain other impurities as well. Therefore, a vitally important step in regaining and keeping your good health to drink alkalized water, either by installing a special alkalizing filter in your home or purchasing alkalized water.
Get Off The Couch
As your body moves toward the correct pH balance, you will notice your energy levels will skyrocket! So why not take advantage of this by getting and staying active?
Finding the correct exercise and fitness routine that fits your lifestyle and personal circumstance will take some research and experimenting. However, fitness knowledge is widely available through gym membership, personal trainers, videos, magazines and the Internet.
The key is to finally get off that couch. Take that first step – get moving, start slowly and go from there.
We put it all-together
Make no mistake about it. Our clinic has decades of experience in all aspects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). We take great pride in the thousands of satisfied clients we have helped, and we are second to none in HRT. We are up-to-date in any-and-all new developments and research discoveries in this ever-evolving area.
But we go beyond hormone replacement therapy. We leave no stone unturned in addressing all aspects of your good health. That includes lifestyle recommendations that are geared to steer you clear of the many health traps that lie in wait…including your precious and often overlooked acid-alkaine balance!
The Effects of Hypogonadism on Men
Learn more about the causes and cures of this ever-increasing problem
Your physician enters the room with a somber demeanor and announces “Your blood tests are back, and it’s confirmed: you have hypogonadism”.
The response of many men to this somewhat confusing pronouncement is often: “what’s that?” The medical, professional, clinical definition of hypogonadism is: the reduction or absence of hormone secretion or other physiological activity of the gonads (testes).The Endocrine Society practice guideline has a similar definition: Hypogonadism in men is a clinical syndrome that results from failure of the testis to produce physiological levels of testosterone (thus androgen deficiency) and a normal number of spermatozoa due to disruption of one or more levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary testicular axis.
In plain English, this means decreased production of the important male hormones that make men men…especially testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). This condition is sometimes given the moniker “low t”.
Then more depressing news follows. All-too-often, older men are told that their condition is specifically called Age-Associated Hypogonadism, sometimes referred to as Late-onset hypogonadism. At around age 31, a man’s levels of growth hormone and testosterone begin to decline at a rate of approximately 10% per decade, depending on many health factors like family history, genetics and life-style behaviors. This is usually due to a combination of impaired testicle function and lower hormonal input from the brain.
Since this condition creeps into a man’s life slowly the effects, however serious, appear gradually, and may go undetected for long periods. Therefore, they are attributed to normal aging, and they may be told that there are no treatments that can reverse this condition.
Men are told to make lifestyle changes: lose weight, exercise, improve your diet, sleep more, control stress, etc. These are all great suggestions. But at best they can only slow down the loss of testosterone, and the debilitating conditions resulting from low testosterone (“Low-T”) levels.
But you won’t hear that from our HRT clinic
There are an estimated 4 to 5 million men in the United States that are suffering from hypogonadism, and as a man’s age increases, so does the frequency of this affliction. Recent surveys have concluded that over 60% of men aged 65 and older experience a drop in normal testosterone levels.
Sadly, as mentioned above, this condition is often not diagnosed or treated, with approximately a mere 5% of hypogonadal men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy.
But at our clinic, things are different. We take a holistic approach to the problem. We begin with an accurate diagnosis. There are different afflictions that cause your Low-T symptoms, and we will determine precisely what your condition is. Then we’ll swing into action, and directly attack the cause of these symptoms. There is no reason for you to continue suffering because…
These debilitating symptoms are anything but fun
Here are a few of the results of age-associated hypogonadism:
Shrinking muscles and maddening loss of strength
Constant, chronic fatigue
Increasing difficulty maintaining balance
Accumulating slabs of ugly, disease-producing fat
Weakened bones, since bones lose their mineral density when testosterone levels plummet. This makes them especially vulnerable to fracture in the event of a fall…which may occur as a direct consequence of the conditions listed above
Diminished or complete loss of libido and decreased spontaneous erections
Ever-increasing nagging joint aches and pains
Stiffness of the body, with increasing loss of flexibility
Loss of appetite, which makes all of the above afflictions worse
Brain fog, characterized by an inability to concentrate and experiencing memory difficulties
Insomnia, with difficulty with both falling asleep and staying asleep
The onset of the feared and hideous metabolic syndrome. This condition is several different conditions, none of them good: elevated blood sugar levels, ever-expanding waistline, skyrocketing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, inflated blood pressure – all of which dramatically increase the risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart attack. Definitely something to be avoided at all costs
Irritability and depression. The zest for life begins to leave. And why wouldn’t it? To investigate the link between depression and hypogonadism, Shore and Associates studied computerized medical records from a regional Veterans Administration. The subjects were depressed men comprised of a mixture of Low-T patients and those with normal testosterone levels. The psychiatrists treating the depressed men had no knowledge of any patients testosterone levels, so their results were not influenced by any pre-existing conditions. The study consisted of 278 men, and the results showed that depression was higher in men diagnosed with hypogonadism (21.7 percent) than men who did not suffer from hypogonadism (7.1 percent). The conclusion? The link between Low-T and depression is there, and has been proven time and time again, beyond a shadow of a doubt
Diminished quality of life. All of these symptoms take a terrible toll on a man’s ability to function in all basic spheres of existence: physical, emotional, social, sexual and cognitive
Lower life expectancy. Studies have shown that men over age 40 with normal testosterone levels had a mortality rate of 20%, while men with Low-T had a rate of 35%, over a mean follow-up of 4.3 years
There are additional categories of male hypogonadism
Age-associated hypogonadism is not by itself a complete diagnosis. There are other, similar classifications of hypogonadism. Here is a list of them:
Primary Hypogonadism. This is directly a result of testicular problems. The causes range from Klinefelter syndrome (A genetic condition in which a male is born with an extra copy of the X chromosome, causing the testes to under-develop), Noonan’s syndrome (a genetic disorder that prevents normal development in various parts of the body, often resulting in slow development, short stature, heart defects and other physical ailments), mumps orchitis (testicular inflamation), orchiectomy (surgical removal of one or both testicles), undescended testes, aging and chemotherapy
Secondary Hypogonadism. With this condition, the testicles are normal, so the cause is usually an imbalanced hormonal system. This can result in Pituitary pathology, Kallman Syndrome (failure to start and/or complete puberty), chronic opioid abuse, aging, Prader-Willi syndrome (a genetic disorder that causes obesity, intellectual disability, and shortness in height), and uncontrolled stress
Normogonadotropic Hypogonadism. This condition causes low sperm counts and although levels of Follicle-stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Lutnizing Hormone (LH), are normal, there is a low level of serum T (total testosterone), resulting in fertility problems
Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism. This is a form of hypogonadism that is due to a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus
There are more causes of hypogonadism
As mentioned earlier, aging is usually the culprit when hypogonadism raises its ugly head. But there are other catalysis as well, such as…
Severe illness. Diabetes, cancer, serious liver disease, and hyperthyroidism are high on the list of medical problems that are linked to hypogonadism
Obesity. This is a self-inflicted condition that wreaks havoc on testosterone levels. And it’s getting worse. Obesity rates rose an astonishing 90% in merely six short years, from 1988-1994! Simply put: an ever-expanding waistline = lower testosterone circulating in the bloodstream
Medications. Sadly, increasing age often comes with a full plate of prescription pills. Some of the side effects of these numerous medications can crater male hormone levels
Hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction
Malnutrition, possibly brought on by unhealthy eating habits
There are other possible causes as well. But before we elaborate on the common origins of hypogonadism, a brief explanation of how testosterone works is in order.
The all-important difference between free testosterone (FT) and bound testosterone
There is a common misconception that a testosterone blood test should measure total testosterone (Free and unbound testosterone). But this doesn’t tell the whole story…far from it.
In healthy men, only a small percentage (1-3%) of total testosterone is free testosterone (“FT”). This is the testosterone that circulates in the bloodstream, enters the muscles and cells and performs its vital functions of keeping men strong and shrinking fat cells.
The vast majority of testosterone is handcuffed to a hormone called the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). As men age, this ratio gets worse – that is, less FT is available, and more testosterone is bound to SHBG.
The result? Less free testosterone, which creates a perfect environment for the debilitating side effects previously listed.
The thing to remember is this: if you have the symptoms of Low-T, and are considering getting a blood test to check your testosterone levels, make sure that you don’t solely rely on your total testosterone level. The ratio of FT to SHBG is even more important. If your blood test uncovers a drop below normal in your FT level, it may be time to consider your treatment options.
Hypogonadism and Low-T ARE NOT the same things
Despite the fact that most, if not all of the symptoms of hypogonadism are identical to the symptoms of Low-T, the is a difference. Andropause (male menopause) is the natural decline of male hormones as a direct consequence of the aging process. Hypogonadism refers to the body’s inability to produce testosterone as a result of an abnormal condition, usually in the testes or brain, but possibly from the causes listed above (i.e., obesity, medications, etc.).
Regardless of which condition you are diagnosed with, the key thing is that both conditions are treatable. Fortunately, when it comes to TRT…
The Times They Are A Changin’
To steal a quote from an old Bob Dylan song, the times are indeed a changin’ when it comes to the benefits and availability of testosterone replacement therapy. Previously, the medical community has been reluctant to treat this condition. And the media has sensationalized any adverse side effects from the treatment, while simultaneously downplaying the benefits of TRT.
The result of this has been a continual lack of understanding the benefits of TRT. This makes it difficult for men suffering from the condition to seek and receive treatment. This is in part caused by the reluctance of physicians to prescribe a testosterone replacement treatment, due to the narrow constraints mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Critics of testosterone replacement therapy often insist that the marketing of the product by pharmaceutical companies has created a demand for a product that is at best unnecessary, and at worst harmful.
However, the numbers don’t support this. In 2012, drug companies spend approximately $1.6 billion in the United states. This pales in comparison to the $19.7 billion spent on marketing statin drugs, and the $4.3 billion spent on erectile dysfunction drugs.
Furthermore, when the studies are closely examined, all-too-often they have a serious flaw: as mentioned earlier, most studies measure the level of total testosterone, rather than free testosterone, also known as bio-available testosterone.
The bottom line? This approach has resulted in far too much needless suffering for men with Low-T. But things are finally changing. Many men undergoing TRT are suffering from age-associated hypogonadism, not primary or secondary hypogonadism.
In the past, many men with age-associated hypogonadism were told they did not meet the standard definition of the disease. This resulted in problems obtaining insurance re-reimbursements and issues with regulatory agencies.
But with the growing awareness of the long-term consequences of Low-T, attitudes are changing….much for the better.
Studies confirm the benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
At a consensus conference held in Prague, Czech Republic last year, medical experts gave unanimous approval to nine resolutions after a serious academic debate. The resolutions concluded that Low-T is a serious medical condition that causes several adverse effects in men; that the problem is a public health concern; that safe, effective treatment is available; that there is no scientific basis for the age-associated recommendations against the use of testosterone and, most perhaps most important, there is no evidence that TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) raises a man’s risk of prostate cancer.
In 2013, a Boston University study concluded that testosterone replacement therapy restores normal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The study also concluded that TRT lowered fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c, which may improve insulin sensitivity and hyperglycemic control.
Still another study conducted in 2012 at the Bayer Pharma headquarters in Berlin, Germany demonstrated that weight-loss was yet another overlooked benefit of testosterone replacement therapy. The study consisted of 255 Low-T or hypogonadal men with an average age of 61, with a two-year follow-up.
On average, the men lost 36 pounds, and 3.5 inches from their waist. This is fabulous news, since weight-loss drugs, exercise and dietary changes have produced at best sporadic successful, long-lasting results. It’s a vicious circle. Many overweight men suffer from hypogonadism, and Low-T causes more weight gain.
One final study needs to be mentioned. A Kaiser Permanente Northwest Portland Oregon study conducted in 2011 concluded that men with higher testosterone levels lose less muscle mass as they age. 1,183 men 65 years or older participated in the study. Their body composition and physical performance were measured over a period of 4.5 years. The results were clear: The amount of testosterone men have in their bodies showed a strong correlation to how much muscle mass they retain as they age.
A new book addresses the problem
Dr. Malcolm Carruthers, founder and chief medical consultant of the Centre for Men’s Health, has authored a new book entitled: Testosterone Resistance: Fighting for the Men’s Health Hormone.”
His premise is simple. Low-T contributes to numerous medical problems, some serious. Yet many men with Low-T symptoms are confused about their options for treatment and don’t truly understand their condition. As a result, Dr. Carruthers feels they are not receiving the treatment they need.
“It’s time to overcome the resistance of the medical establishment to the widespread use of testosterone in treatment and preventive medicine,” Carruthers said. “This is a game changer – millions of men worldwide are being denied treatment which could restore them to full health safely, economically, and easily.”
Carruthers insists testosterone replacement therapy has the potential to be the most effective form of preventive medicine of the twenty-first century, and both medical professionals and patients need to be aware of the new possibilities for treating symptoms of testosterone deficiency.
What our clinic can do for you
Always remember this: you don’t have to continue suffering in silence. At our clinic, we have the most cutting-edge treatments that are designed to coax your body into ramping up testosterone production.
Our toolbox is jammed-packed with several options to ensure you will receive the type of treatment that is specifically designed for you: testosterone capsules; injections, both short-term (once every two to three weeks) and long-term (once every ten to fourteen weeks); gels that are directly rubbed into the skin and go to work quickly; patches that are time-released; and implants (small pellets that are easily and painlessly implanted underneath the skin in the buttocks or lower back).
The pros and cons of each of these approaches will be explained to you in detail, and together we will determine the most effective treatment option.
We don’t just stop with testosterone replacement therapy. We will give you specific recommendations on everything from nutrition, stress reduction, exercise and every other area of your life that can cause your testosterone levels to explode!
We have over a decade of experience in this rapidly-evolving field. There is no reason for you to continue to suffer. Contact us. Contact us today with your questions about Low Testosterone or HGH, Hypogonadism can be treated effectively!
Fed up with looking in the mirror and not liking what you see?
Discouraged that your workouts are not delivering what you need?
Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?
Then it’s time to take action! Add DIM to your supplement menu and stop letting estrogen rob you of your manhood!
Ask any doctor. They will tell you the grim fact: their male patients over 40 have many complaints they never suffered from in their youth.
Depression. Weight-gain, with an increase of slabs of ugly, disease-producing blubber. Shrinkage of muscles, and loss of muscle tone. Moodiness. Dry, wrinkled, weathered skin. Never-ending joint aches and pains. Hair loss. Constant fatigue, which takes a terrible toll on every aspect of their lives. Loss of sex drive. The parade of horrors just continues, seemingly without let-up.
Worse, all-too-often they are told that it’s simply aging, and there’s nothing to be done about it…so deal with it. Sadly, too many men believe this depressing refrain, and simply throw in the towel.
But it doesn’t have to be that way
You’ve searched and searched, desperate to do something…almost anything…to reverse this nightmare of seeing and experiencing the disintegration of your manhood. And you’ve discovered something that looks promising: Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
Next, you’ve decided to take action and have come to our clinic. Great! You are exactly where you need to be. We are proud to offer the most effective, cutting-edge hormone replacement therapies available anywhere in the world. We will individualize a testosterone replacement therapy program designed specifically for you. We will provide you with everything you need: the right substance, the exact dosage and monitor your progress with safety and positive results as our 1-2 goals.
But we don’t stop there
At our clinic, we believe in a total, holistic approach. This includes nutritional guidelines, exercise programs, and supplements. Used together, we deliver results quickly and safely.
As part of this approach, we must first stop the loss of your testosterone levels. To accomplish this, we consider each and every cause of your low testosterone (“Low-T”) levels.
And that includes Estrogen: The hidden testosterone killer
There are many causes of Low-T: prescription drugs, stress, junk food and beverages, recreational drugs, poor thyroid and liver function, lack of sleep, and one of the biggest cause that is often overlooked: the increasing levels of estrogen in the aging male body.
Estrogen: a stealth missile
Estrogen is defined as “any of a group of steroid hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body”. For our purposes, remember this simple formula: as testosterone levels drop, estrogen levels rise. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Testosterone is the ultimate male hormone and is responsible for masculine characteristics (i.e., deep voice, muscle growth, body hair, etc.).
So how does estrogen gain a foothold in a man’s body? One of the main culprits is our modern-day environment, which is jammed-packed with estrogen traps like:
Pollutants like lead in paint, mercury and pesticides
Phthalates (chemicals used in many household air fresheners and deodorants) and plastic containers loaded with Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic compound with several adverse side effects
Shampoos, soaps, and detergents
Shower curtains (yep, believe it or not)
Any more…many more seemingly innocuous items that are “estrogen bombs”
All of these traps cause our estrogen levels to accumulate over time, with results that are most unpleasant: increased blood pressure, fat accumulation, weakened immune system, mood swings, birth defects, increased prostate size and manufacturing prostate cancer cells…and lowered testosterone levels. All of this leads to the dreaded “Dad body”. Estrogen is fed to farm animals to help them gain weight. And soy products are estrogen-loaded.
Re-read the list above…and remember that there are many more household items that contain estrogen…too numerous to list. In short, estrogen is advancing, like an invading, stealth army in darkness…with you in its cross-hairs.
What all of this means is this: our testosterone levels are under constant attack from a wide array of sources, with potentially serious side effects.
If that weren’t bad enough, many doctors are not aware of this hidden danger. To be fair, this topic is not covered in the curriculum of medical schools, nor is it a hot topic in the tons of medical journals that our over-burdened physicians are forced to wade through. So, your doctor may not be able to help you deal with rising estrogen, in spite of his or her good intentions.
Even more insidious, consider this: estrogen is invisible; your can’t see it, feel it, or even taste it. However, it invades your system constantly and sneakily.
One more problem to consider: don’t think that the label “BPA-free” means that the product is harmless. The replacement chemical is something titled Bisphenol S (BPS) – and can be every bit as disruptive and damaging as BPA. It has a slightly different chemical makeup from BPA, and that gives manufacturers the green light to plaster the “BPA-free” labels on their products.
But in reality, the health hazards are still there.
Therefore, to make sure your TRT delivers the maximum benefits, we need to “set the table” by making sure there is nothing standing in the way of your treatment. The normal ratio of testosterone/estrogen in healthy men is 10-1. But due to the above-mentioned factors, at times, the level can swing dramatically in favor of estrogen. This is intolerable, and must be stopped, dead in it’s tracks
This is where DIM comes into play
DIM is the abbreviation for diindolylmethane. This substance is found naturally in plants, especially vegetables in the cruciferous family (broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts).
Like charging reinforcements onto the battlefield, DIM attacks estrogen with a vengeance, smashing it down into less hazardous substances, and neutralizing the hideous effects of this feminizing hormone.
How DIM works
There are two types of testosterone circulating in your blood: free, or bound to carrier proteins. In particular, it is the Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) that is the carrier protein. Free testosterone is what we want since it can cross the blood-brain barrier, and also enter muscles and fat cells, where it does its beneficial work. Regrettably, only a small amount of testosterone (2% or less) is free.
Therefore, the majority of testosterone is bound to SHBG. This is unfortunate since it is unable to fulfill its vital functions. Here’s where DIM comes to the rescue by affecting estrogen metabolism in a beneficial way, thus allowing a higher level of free testosterone to circulate in the blood.
This is accomplished by lowering the level of SHBG. This happens as a result of DIM’s ability to speed up the metabolism of estrogen, lowering unmetabolized levels of estrogen to fall and increasing the levels of 2-hydroxy-estrogens, a beneficial substance.
This is important, since 2-hydroxy-estrogens have the keys to “spring” testosterone from the jail of SHBG, and let it loose to go to work.
The thing to remember is this: DIM delivers a 1-2 punch: it slashes unmetabolized estrogen levels and raises 2-hydroxy-estrogen levels. This powerful, dynamic duo is what helps to deliver testosterone’s youthful, restorative benefits.
As men age, estrogen metabolism slows naturally. When combined with all of the environmental influences, the need for the body to “clear” excess estrogen becomes life-saving.
DIM also delivers powerful prostate protection
In addition, DIM has been proven to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells to a crawl…by as much as 70%! Here’s why:
As men age, and the estrogen/testosterone balance becomes more and more out-of-whack, excess estrogen accumulates in the prostate. Research has shown that this ramps up the production of prostate specific antigen protein (PSA). The level of PSA in a man’s bloodstream is a common screening test to uncover the severeness of prostate size increase and therefore the risk of prostate cancer.
Estradiol (the active form of estrogen) is directly linked to an increase in the prostate gland’s manufacture of PSA. Fortunately, this deadly effect can be neutralized by DIM stimulating an increase in beneficial estrogen metabolites (substances formed in or necessary for metabolism).
The last thing in the world any man needs is prostate problems. DIM is a safe, inexpensive addition to your prostate protection arsenal.
DIM helps woman as well
It’s not just men who can benefit from DIM. Studies have uncovered that women diagnosed with uterine and breast cancer have low levels of 2-hydroxy-estrogen (the good kind), and excess levels of 16-hydroxy estrogen (the bad kind).
High levels of 16-hydroxy-estrogen are made worse by the environmental causes mentioned earlier and are as debilitating to women as they are to men. DIM promotes a healthy estrogen balance since it boosts the level of the good 2-hydroxy-estrogens and lowers the level of the bad 16-hydroxy-estrogens. This can potentially slow down or inhibit serious illness.
Also, many women have reported improvement in premenstrual syndrome (PMS) after supplementing with DIM. Again, the evidence points to DIM’s ability to restore the correct estrogen levels that are unbalanced with PMS.
Smart eating and supplements = the winning formula
It is important to add cruciferous veggies to your diet. However, it would be extremely challenging, if not impossible to obtain the amount of DIM needed to produce it’s protective benefits: at least two pounds a day! Therefore, it is recommended to consider taking DIM in supplemental form to ensure your levels of this vital protector are adequate to deliver its benefits. 200 to 400 mg of DIM daily is the preferred recommendation.
Clean, smart eating combined with DIM supplementation = the winning formula. This safe, inexpensive supplement will set up the right environment in your body; an environment that will ensure you’ll obtain maximum benefit from your testosterone replacement therapy program.