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Healthy Heart Metabolism

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Everyone knows that one of the main keys to healthy heart metabolism is regular exercise. Aside from the fact that exercise strengthens muscle tissue'and your heart is a muscle'exercise also enhances one of the body's main repair biochemicals, insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1.

Everyone knows that one of the main keys to healthy heart metabolism is regular exercise. Aside from the fact that exercise strengthens muscle tissue and your heart is a muscle exercise also enhances one of the body's main repair biochemicals, insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1.

IGF-1 is a special blood protein produced in the liver. Aside from being the best indicator of growth hormone levels in the body (a marker of youth), optimal levels of IGF-1 are also linked to the health of your heart. The problem is that, like most other health-promoting biochemicals produced by the body, IGF-1 levels decline precipitously with age.

Super Protective Agent

IGF-1 is known to protect the heart against stress and injury. Recent research from the Center for Cardiovascular Hormone Research at the University of California, Irvine, has demonstrated that IGF-1 also has the ability to regenerate or repair damaged heart tissue, possibly by increasing production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's primary energy substance.

Researchers from Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan, treated rat heart mitochondria (the cells' energy centres) with IGF-1 prior to inducing heart attack through oxygen deprivation. The study showed that damage to hearts of rats treated with IGF-1 was significantly less than to hearts of untreated ones. ATP synthesis was significantly greater in the IGF-1 hearts.

The Collagen Connection

Another way in which IGF-1 helps to regenerate heart cells is by restoring healthy collagen production. The body's most important fibrous protein structure, collagen provides the strength and structural integrity to many organs, including the heart. Studies indicate that IGF-1 has the ability to regulate collagen production by heart cells. Most people are aware of the negative impact excess stress has when it comes to heart health. It may be that stress inhibits protective collagen production and consequently destroys heart cells. Polish researchers reported in 2004 that excess stress causes an inhibition in collagen biosynthesis most probably due to the distinct decrease in IGF-1 levels.

Aside from all of its remarkable qualities, it turns out that IGF-1 can also greatly reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) and decrease oxidative damage to heart cells.

How to Make IGF Work for You

So exactly how can you achieve higher levels of this incredible heart-protecting compound? By following five easy steps:

  1. Sleep deeply! Studies show a direct correlation between sleep quality and IGF-1 levels.
  2. Consume a protein source at every meal. Research appearing in the American Journal of Medical Science, showed that IGF-1 levels were negatively affected when women fasted, followed a caloric-restricted diet, or diets high in fat or carbohydrates. High protein intake was the only diet that didn't affect IGF-1 levels.
  3. Reduce stress.
  4. Reduce inflammation. Italian researchers have discovered that high levels of the inflammatory marker IL-6 have been shown to inhibit IGF-1.
  5. Exercise regularly especially with weights.
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