To increase IGF-1 levels naturally, it is recommended to follow a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.
Also, when it comes to improving your health, it is important to avoid certain things that can inhibit the production of IGF-1, a growth hormone. Some of these things include extreme calorie restriction, extreme diets, protein restriction, high insulin levels, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, high intake of plant lignans and phytoestrogen foods, alcohol consumption, and high-stress levels.
Additionally, certain therapies, such as massage and acupuncture, can help boost IGF-1 levels.
In this article, we discuss some methods & supplements to increase IGF-1 levels comprehensively:-
Zinc is an essential mineral for optimal brain health, but unfortunately, it is estimated that two billion people around the world are deficient in it. Studies have shown that even a mild zinc deficiency can negatively affect brain function.
This is due to the fact that zinc deficiency decreases levels of IGF-1 in humans. In one animal study, rats that were fed a zinc-depleted diet for 14 days had their IGF-1 levels decreased by 28%, compared to those that were fed a zinc-adequate diet.
The good news is that zinc supplementation can help to increase IGF-1 levels. Research has demonstrated that taking zinc supplements can significantly increase circulating IGF-1 levels, as well as the synthesis and action of IGF-1 in the body. To ensure that their zinc and IGF-1 levels are optimal, people can take a zinc supplement like Optimal Zinc.
In addition to supplementing, it is also important to eat plenty of foods that are high in zinc. Some of the best foods to boost zinc levels include oysters, grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, cashews, mushrooms and spinach.
Eating enough good quality protein is crucial if you wish to raise your IGF-1 levels. Studies have demonstrated that low protein intake is linked to a significant decrease in IGF-1 levels (1). Conversely, high-protein diets have been found to boost IGF-1 levels (2,3). Animal protein and red meat in particular have been proven to raise IGF-1 concentrations (4,5).
It is important to remember that muscle meat (chicken breasts, lean beef) should not be the only source of animal protein. Our ancestors did not consume it in this way, so neither should we. Our body prefers and needs to receive a variety of amino acids from the whole animal.
In addition to muscle meat, you should also consume organ meats such as liver and bone broth. I personally do not like the taste of liver and bone broth can be difficult to make all the time, so I often take grass-fed beef liver capsules and drink high-quality pre-made bone broth. This provides the same nutritional benefits of consuming whole animal proteins, while being more convenient.
3. Vitamin C
Taking extra Vitamin C is a great way to increase IGF-1 levels. Vitamin C can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as green peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. Studies have shown that a higher intake of citrus fruits and Vitamin C is linked to higher IGF-1 concentrations.
In addition to eating the right foods, I also take a 500 mg Vitamin C supplement every day to ensure I’m getting enough. I have even taken up to 10 grams of Vitamin C daily, which has been proven to improve my mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve your cognitive function and brain health. Blueberries are especially beneficial because of the flavonoids they contain. Studies have shown that blueberries can help improve memory by increasing levels of IGF-1.
Additionally, they can improve brain health and blood flow by increasing BDNF. I like to buy wild blueberries when I go shopping, and they are also featured in my guide to optimal brain health. An alternative is to take a blueberry extract, which is actually cheaper in the long term than buying fresh blueberries, although I prefer eating the real thing.
In fact, researchers often use concentrated blueberry extracts, rather than actual blueberries, when studying their health benefits.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in more than 300 biochemical processes in the body. Unfortunately, many people do not get enough of it and this can affect their IGF-1 levels.
Studies have shown that magnesium levels are linked to IGF-1 levels, and that a deficiency in magnesium can worsen the age-related decline in IGF-1.
To ensure optimal brain health, everyone should supplement their diet with magnesium, either through a supplement or by taking Epsom salt baths.
Additionally, it is important to eat foods that are rich in magnesium, such as spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, dark chocolate, and bananas.
Magnesium also helps to protect the blood-brain barrier, increases BDNF, and aids in the formation of new brain synapses.
Selenium is an important mineral that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions, including those that influence brain and mental health. Evidence suggests that there is a strong correlation between selenium levels and IGF-1 levels, the hormone responsible for growth.
Animal studies have revealed that a lack of selenium can lead to lower IGF-1 levels, while supplementing with selenium has been demonstrated to significantly raise IGF-1 in elderly individuals.
Brazil nuts are the most concentrated dietary source of selenium, but it can also be found in wild-caught seafood, poultry and eggs raised on pastures, and grass-fed beef.
Eating a balanced diet that includes these foods can help ensure you get enough selenium for optimal health.
Cinnamon is a flavorful and healthy spice renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies have also linked it to improved brain function, particularly in those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Additionally, cinnamon extract has been found to activate IGF-1 signaling.
However, not all cinnamon is equal; for the most health benefits, one should seek out Ceylon, or true cinnamon, as opposed to the cheaper varieties found in most supermarkets. Fortunately, Ceylon can be found in most health food stores.
8. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that is produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, it is estimated that almost half of all people are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. This can cause a myriad of physical and psychological problems due to the presence of Vitamin D receptors in every tissue in the body, including the brain.
Studies have demonstrated that Vitamin D supplementation can significantly increase IGF-1 levels in adults. The best way to get Vitamin D is to spend time outdoors in the sun, especially during the spring and summer months.
However, during the winter months when there isn’t enough sun, it is recommended to take a Vitamin D3 supplement. It is important to monitor your Vitamin D levels before and after taking a supplement to ensure that you are getting the proper amount.
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is an essential nutrient that cannot be produced by the body. It is found in nearly every cell and is vital for maintaining energy levels. Research has demonstrated that a lack of Vitamin B1 can lead to a decrease in IGF-1 levels.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin B1 are green peas, beef liver, asparagus, pecans, spinach, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, oranges, cantaloupe, and eggs. These foods can help ensure that the body is getting enough Vitamin B1, thus promoting optimal energy levels and supporting the IGF-1 system.
10. Dried Plum
Plums are an incredibly beneficial type of food, packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating plums may help reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses. Prunes, which are dried plums, can also be consumed to improve IGF-1 levels.
A study involving postmenopausal women showed that having a daily intake of dried plums resulted in a 17% increase in IGF-1 levels.
Other natural supplements and herbs that can help boost IGF-1 levels include green tea extract, resveratrol, bovine colostrum, and ashwagandha.
The gut microbiome plays an important role in the production of IGF-1 in the body and brain. Probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium longum, have been found to increase IGF-1 concentrations.
On the other hand, antibiotics have been linked to decreased IGF-1 levels.
To improve the gut microbiome, one can consider supplementing with probiotics, as well as engaging in other activities that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. For those struggling with anxiety, probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus helveticus, Bifidobacterium infantis, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus have been found to help.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands, gonads, and brain. It is a precursor of other hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, and is available in supplement form.
Studies have found that taking a daily dose of 100 mg of DHEA for six months can increase IGF-1 levels in both men and women. Additionally, DHEA has been shown to have neuroprotective properties, enhance memory and cognition, and reduce depression.
Taurine is an organic compound commonly found in food, predominantly in meat and seafood. As a supplement, it can have a positive effect on one’s mental health, as it can pass through the blood-brain barrier and increase the production of oxytocin, dopamine and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Furthermore, it has been found to elevate levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and stimulate IGF-1 synthesis (6, 7).
Resveratrol is a beneficial compound found in grapes, red wine, raspberries, and dark chocolate that is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Recently, researchers have begun to understand why it can be beneficial.
Studies have shown that consuming resveratrol can improve cognitive function by increasing the production of IGF-1.
Additionally, it has been observed to increase BDNF, synaptogenesis, autophagy, and blood flow in the brain. To get the most out of the benefits of resveratrol, it is recommended to take a supplement containing it, as it is difficult to get sufficient amounts of the compound from food sources alone.
Leucine is an essential amino acid, which means it must be consumed through food or supplements. It is one of three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are used by athletes and bodybuilders as a supplement to increase energy, strength and build muscle.
Studies have demonstrated that leucine helps to raise levels of IGF-1 and IGF binding protein. Protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken and turkey are excellent sources of leucine, but to maximize the benefits of this amino acid, it is recommended to supplement with it for those looking to increase IGF-1 levels.
Astragalus, an adaptogenic herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to bolster the immune system and reduce inflammation, is thought to be able to raise IGF-1 levels.
There are over two thousand varieties of Astragalus, but most Astragalus supplements in circulation are made from Astragalus membranaceus.
Studies have demonstrated that Astragalus membranaceus extract can significantly increase IGF-1 levels in both humans and animals. Astragalus is available in many forms, such as liquid extracts, capsules, powders and teas.
Colostrum, also referred to as “first milk,” is a special type of milk that mammals’ mammary glands produce right after the birth of a baby. It contains various nutrients and growth factors, such as IGF-1, that enhance the health and growth of a newborn.
Bovine colostrum, which is derived from cows, can be taken as a supplement by humans to benefit from its health properties. Studies have demonstrated that taking colostrum supplements can significantly raise IGF-1 levels in the body.
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is an acetylated form of the amino acid carnitine, and has been found to be a powerful neuroprotective, cognitive-enhancing, and mood-enhancing agent.
Studies have demonstrated that ALCAR increases IGF-1 levels in both humans and rats, and many people report feeling a substantial boost in mental energy and cognitive function when taking it.
It is for this reason that ALCAR is included in many natural brain-booster supplements. Moreover, ALCAR has been found to be effective in reversing neurological decline and in supporting mitochondrial function. Thus, ALCAR has been found to be beneficial in alleviating chronic fatigue, improving mood, and increasing alertness.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance, found in foods such as meat, eggs, and fish. It is available as a supplement and is taken by athletes and bodybuilders to gain muscle mass. It has been proven to have neuroprotective effects and helps to rapidly produce energy for brain cell function.
One study showed that taking creatine daily for five days increased IGF expression by 30%. Ursolic acid is another natural compound found in plants and herbs such as apple peels, rosemary, thyme and holy basil.
Supplementing with ursolic acid has been shown to increase IGF-1 levels by 22.8%.
Animal research has also indicated that it increases IGF-1 signaling and enhances IGF-1 receptors. Pure ursolic acid can be taken as a supplement, or people can opt to take holy basil, which contains some ursolic acid, though it may not be as effective.
20. Hydroxy Methyl-butyrate
Hydroxy Methyl-butyrate, or HMB, is a by-product of the amino acid leucine. It is often used as a dietary supplement by athletes and bodybuilders to help develop and strengthen their muscles.
Research has demonstrated that taking HMB supplements can increase the production of the hormone IGF-1, which helps the body build muscle. HMB is a popular supplement among athletes, as it has been shown to significantly improve muscle growth and performance.
21. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an important coenzyme and antioxidant found in the mitochondria of the body. It provides numerous health benefits, including aiding in the production of energy. Eating certain foods, such as meat and fish, can provide dietary CoQ10.
Supplementing with CoQ10 has been shown to significantly elevate IGF-1 levels.
22. Low-Level Laser Therapy
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), also known as photobiomodulation, is a treatment that uses low-powered lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stimulate brain cells, helping them to function more effectively.
This has been explored in depth by Dr. Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Toronto, in his book The Brain’s Way of Healing. Several studies have indicated that LLLT increases the expression, production and release of IGF-1.
Many users have personally experienced positive effects from using LLLT. They use a device to shine red and infrared light on the forehead for five minutes each day, as well as on other parts of head and body, such as thyroid, thymus gland and gut.
There is also this Vielight Neuro Duo device, which is a transcranial-intranasal headset with 810 nm of near infrared light, which is known to penetrate deeper into brain tissue and be better absorbed by the central nervous system.
Before trying LLLT, it is important to read up on the topic in order to gain a full understanding of the potential benefits and risks.
23. Deep Sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is essential in order to increase IGF-1 levels and improve both mental and physical health. Poor sleep is known to be a major contributor to low IGF-1 levels and cognitive impairments.
Sleep deprivation not only suppresses IGF-1, but it also affects hormones, exercise recovery, neurological health, and appetite.
Studies have found that increased deep sleep is correlated with higher IGF-1 levels, and improving sleep quality among military personnel led to an increase in IGF-1 levels and a decrease in depression and PTSD symptoms.
Thus, the quality of sleep is just as important as its length. To promote deeper and more restful sleep, one can take natural supplements such as magnesium.
Additionally, it is possible to naturally produce more melatonin and maximize sleep quality without relying on supplements.
24. Reduce Inflammation
In order to increase your IGF-1 levels naturally, it is essential to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Studies have indicated that pro-inflammatory cytokines can impair IGF-1 bioactivity and promote IGF resistance.
Common causes of chronic inflammation include infections, mold, brain injuries, and leaky brain, however, diet is one of the most controllable causes.
To reduce inflammation, it is recommended to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, avoiding gluten and dairy, and removing processed food from your diet.
Additionally, increasing your intake of vegetables, fruits, wild fish, grass-fed beef and organic chicken will help reduce inflammation.
Other steps to reduce inflammation include reducing stress, exercising, improving gut health, treating infections and getting enough sleep.
25. Avoid Alcohol
If you want to increase your IGF-1 levels, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. Alcohol is a neurotoxin that can have a detrimental effect on the brain by raising cortisol levels, disrupting the blood-brain barrier, and increasing inflammation and oxidative stress – all of which can lower IGF-1 levels.
26. Sauna Sessions
Using a sauna regularly is one of the best strategies for increasing the production of IGF-1 and other growth hormones. Start out slowly and increase the length of your sauna sessions over time.
Make sure to stay hydrated before and after each session, and avoid consuming alcohol during your sauna sessions. In addition, try to keep stress levels low and get enough sleep each night.