If you’ve been into improving your physique as of late, you might be thinking of boosting your insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) levels—but you’ve also learned that an increase or decrease in the protein could be harmful. Well, an IGF-1 test might just be the solution to figuring out whether you need more or less of the protein to improve your holistic well-being.
Keep reading to find out more about the double-edged sword that is IGF-1.
What Is It Really Though?
IGF-1 is a hormone produced in the liver, and works together with growth hormone (GH) to induce anabolic effects (the two get transported to your blood vessels and tissues). GH secretion tends to increase in normal amounts during childhood but declines or stops after you reach the age of 50, raising risks for GH deficiency.
How Does It Help or Harm the Body?
IGF-1 has many important roles, including:
An excessive increase or decrease in IGF-1 and GH could be indicators of various health conditions.
Overproduction of IGF-1 and GH results in an abnormal growth of bones, a sign of acromegaly. Gigantism and acromegaly both cause enlargement of hands, feet, tongue, and other organs, and if left untreated may cause arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart failure.
Hormonal imbalance can be a precursor to many illnesses, so better check your IGF-1 and GH levels through an IGF-1 test.
What Is an IGF-1 Test?
Being a blood test, it measures the amount of IGF-1 and human growth hormone (hGH) through a blood sample. These metrics are usually referred to as serum IGF-1 and hGH.
However, additional testing (such as of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland) should be done for verification.
Why Do I Need This Test? When Do I Take It?
Your doctor may need to order the IGF-1 test if you have symptoms related to the lack or excess of GH.
For children, the most common symptom of a GH-related disease is delayed bone growth resulting in short stature. They may also experience fatigue, joint pain, and delay in pubertal development.
Adults may show disproportion of facial features, like a larger nose, lips, and jaw, as well as exhibit muscle weakness, and the other signs and symptoms stated earlier.
Not having enough IGF-1 may also be a sign of problems in pituitary function, such as in the case of pituitary adenomas (or simply, pituitary tumor).
Are There Risks to IGF-1 Tests?
The IGF-1 test is generally harmless, however, like any other test that involves needles, the patient may experience swelling of the arm and lightheadedness.
I Got My IGF-1 Test Results, Now What?
Many factors, like age, weight, height, and health history, may affect your results. Normal ranges vary because test results of IGH-1 are age-dependent.
Consulting your doctor is the next best step to do as he or she can provide a diagnosis.
After receiving your IGF-1 results, you might want to try natural ways to increase or decrease your IGF-1 and GH. Again, be sure to check with your doctor to see if it’s okay to do so.
Ways to Boost Your Body’s IGF-1
If you have low IGF-1 and GH levels, try increasing the amount of the hormones through:
- Taking in supplements (including amino acids)
- Involving strength and endurance training in your exercise routine
- Getting enough sleep
- Cutting down on sugar
- Eating more carbohydrates and red meat
Ways to Reduce Your Body’s IGF-1
The following are methods on lessening your GH if you have too much:
- Fasting for long periods of time
- Eating less protein
- Walking a few minutes a day
- Eating more fruits and vegetables rich in resveratrol and other vitamins and minerals
Achieving hormonal balance is important in staying healthy. Take an IGF-1 test to make sure that you’re indeed becoming a healthier, better, and happier version of yourself.