The Gland We All Want
Mar 30, 2014 07:49PM
By Les Cole, M.D.
Don’t you just want… a gland that you could squeeze that would optimize your health? Just imagine if you had a gland you could squeeze every day or every other day that would greatly decrease your risk for most diseases, like cardiovascular disease, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, high blood pressure and abnormal lipids! A gland that prevented or reduced your risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, infection, gallstones, peptic ulcer, erectile dysfunction, Alzheimer’s disease and others. A gland that would decrease osteoporosis, oxidative stress, inflammation and fatigue. Wouldn’t you just love a gland that would help you lose weight, lower your blood sugar, improve your sleep, improve your memory and focus, improve your skin tone and elasticity and decrease wrinkles? A gland that improves or prevents depression, anxiety and stress? And a gland that increases life span, decreases telomere attrition and improves quality of life?
At this point you are likely thinking, “Of course!” and “Get out, there is no such thing!” at the same time. Well, you may be as surprised as I was to learn that you do have just such a gland! In fact, it is quite a large gland. Much larger than any other gland in your body.
The gland you have that can do all these things for you is…your muscle! “No way, that’s not a gland,” you may be thinking; however, the definition of a gland is “a cell, group of cells, or organ that produces secretions.”
Turns out, muscle is a secretory organ. Together, your muscles are one big gland activated by contraction, causing the release of a multitude of chemicals that affect every other organ in your body, including your brain. Every time you contract (squeeze) muscle (aka exercise), you actually affect the expression of at least 400 genes that up-regulate your anabolism (building up – contributes to youth maintenance) and down-regulate your catabolism (tearing down – a contributor to aging). Exercise optimizes your genes that:
Regulate your energy metabolism, control your weight and improve your energy
Increase your anabolism (building-up)
Improve hemoglobin production
Increase the number of your mitochondria (by 50-100 percent) which burn fat for energy, especially in muscle
Increase your nitric oxide production which is an antioxidant, improve your vascular health and reduce aging
Turn on all your antioxidant cellular pathways
Reduce inflammation and turn off your inflammatory pathways
Increase your growth hormone (anabolic & anti-aging)
Increase your testosterone (anabolic & anti-aging – men and women)
Detoxify and protect you from a vast array of toxins encountered daily
Improve your immune function
Improve your cholesterol and lipids
Improve your blood sugar
Protect you against cancer
Reduce your stress, anxiety and depression
Slow your aging and telomere attrition
Reduce and protect you from cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease
Improve memory and cognition
“Why would this be so?” Good question! Because when our genes were being developed in Paleolithic times, it was so important to our survival to be able to hunt for food and escape from becoming food. This meant running and throwing and lifting heavy objects—a lot. Squeezing our muscles was such a vital part of survival and we developed in such a way as to optimize our health. Our muscles did double duty. They propelled us through our external environment and simultaneously optimized our internal health. The secretions released every time we squeezed our muscles contributed to our species becoming the fittest and the smartest! In fact, exercise increases BDNF—a growth factor that causes new brain cells to grow, likely the main contributor to why our species’ brains developed to the extent they did. Even today physical exercise has a much more profound effect on improving memory than any brain exercises we can do.
When our Paleolithic ancestors wanted to eat, they had to run at high intensity to kill prey. Or they had to walk long distances to forage food. Then they had to carry it back to their cave. This was their everyday life. Every time they wanted to eat, they had to run, jump, walk, dig—exercise like crazy. There were no refrigerators, prepared foods, etc. So every day they produced all these wonderful health benefits by working this master gland.
Now, fast forward to the beginning of the 1900s. Even though we no longer chased our food, most of our work was physical labor. And though the car and telegraph reduced a tremendous amount of physical exertion, there were few robots to do our manual labor for us. Now, fast forward to today. Many if not most of us sit in one place and have much of what we need at our fingertips. There is little physical exertion: convenient but unhealthy.
Our genes today—yours and mine—are essentially identical to those of our Paleolithic ancestors, and our bodies are designed to run and jump and lift heavy things so that all those health promoting genes get turned on and health promoting chemicals produced. So, if you aren’t feeling or looking the way you want to and always wondered if you had a hormone problem, you now have a gland that you can squeeze every day or every other day that will improve how you look and feel and keep you healthy. Of course, eating healthy, avoiding toxins and replacing deficient hormones not optimized by exercise will also contribute to your optimal state of wellness.
Dr. Les Cole practices Anti-Aging, Functional-Metabolic, Integrative and Preventive Medicine. He is certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and American Academy of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and is currently working on his Masters in Nutrition and Metabolism. To learn more about exercise and other things you can do to improve your health and wellness, visit StPeteHW.com or call St. Petersburg Health & Wellness at 727-202-6807 or one of Dr. Cole’s other locations for an appointment.
See ad right and pages 17, 21, and 55.