Levels of IGF-1 That Are Ideal for Promoting Longevity

The connection between IGF-1 levels and overall health is not as straightforward as one might expect. Both abnormally low and high levels of IGF-1 have been linked to a variety of health issues. In adults, an elevated level of IGF-1 is associated with a hastened ageing process as well as an increased risk of cancer and mortality at an earlier age. 1-5 It is believed that the ability to keep one’s IGF-1 level reasonably low for the most of one’s adult life is one of the most crucial factors in being able to live to be a centenarian without ever having had cancer.

On the other hand, a low IGF-1 level in elderly people is associated to both weakness and an increased risk of illness. Maintaining adequate levels of IGF-1 throughout later life is essential to the preservation of bone density, muscular mass, and cognitive function.

For the most part of our adult lives, we should strive to keep our levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) relatively low. When we reach our eighties and beyond, we should increase the amount of protein we eat so that our IGF-1 does not become dangerously low. This will allow us to live longer.

To maintain healthy levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) throughout our lives, it is critical that we pay close attention to the foods we eat.

The role that IGF-1 plays in the human body

Insulin-like growth factor 1 is the abbreviation for IGF-1. It is a hormone that has a structure that is comparable to that of insulin. IGF-1 is a cell growth promoter that is essential during childhood because of its role in the development of the brain as well as the growth of the muscles and bones. IGF-1 levels are at their highest throughout our teenage and early adult years, and then begin to gradually decrease as we get older. Growth hormone, or GH, is secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulates the creation of IGF-1 in the liver.

The amount of protein consumed in one’s diet, particularly that which comes from animals, also has a role in regulating circulating IGF-1. Animal protein is more physiologically complete than plant protein; this means that it contains high quantities of all of the essential amino acids. As a result, consumption of animal protein might cause the body to produce an excessive amount of IGF-1, whereas consumption of plant protein does not. 9-10 Carbohydrates that have been processed and have a high glycemic index can also elevate IGF-1

Optimal IGF-1 levels

A meta-analysis looked at 10 separate trials to see how IGF-1 levels relate to overall mortality. The researchers discovered a “U-shaped” correlation, which indicates that both low and high IGF-1 levels are related with an increased chance of passing away at an earlier age.

At the 55th percentile of blood IGF-1, the risk was at its lowest. After that point, the risk rose in both directions for death from all causes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

14 According to the findings of this study, a healthy person in our age range should have an IGF-1 level that is somewhere in the lower to medium range. A few of studies, the most of which were conducted in European populations, have made an attempt to identify the average levels of IGF-1 found in healthy adults of varying ages:

AgeAverage Serum IGF-1 (ng/ml)
21-30 158-230
31-40 135-220
41-50 121-193
51-60 98-150
61-70 85-140
71-80 85-95
80+ 85-90

These figures are on the lower end of the spectrum when compared to the average IGF-1 levels seen in a number of previous studies conducted on populations in the United States and Europe.

According to the findings of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) research, persons who had a Western diet had an average blood IGF-1 level that ranged from 200 to 210 ng/ml. This finding suggests that this is a usual level.

18 The amount of animal products that the majority of Americans consume puts their IGF-1 levels in the danger zone, which is above 200, which in turn raises their chance of developing cancer.

Two studies that compared the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in adults eating a Western diet (with 16–17 percent of calories coming from protein) to adults eating a vegan (or raw vegan) diet (with 9–10 percent of calories coming from protein and no animal protein) found that the Western diet group had an average IGF-1 level of 200 ng/ml, while the vegan group had an average of less than 150 ng/ml. In one of these investigations, non-vegan endurance runners were also given an IGF-1 test, and the researchers found that their average was between 175.19 and 20. Midway through the 50s was the average age of the people who participated in these research.

A low IGF-1 level is typically considered to be between 70 and 80 ng/ml or below. This level is connected with an increased risk of illness or fatality.

15,21-26 In research conducted on senior males with an average age of 75, high IGF-1 levels—approximately 190 ng/ml—were shown to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and deaths from cancer. 22-23

Premenopausal women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study who had IGF-1 levels that were greater than 207 had an appreciably increased likelihood of developing breast cancer.

2,7 IGF-1 levels that were higher than 185 ng/ml were associated with an increased likelihood of developing prostate cancer in the Physicians’ Health Study. 28

Taking into consideration all of this evidence, it seems that maintaining an IGF-1 level below 175 ng/ml is likely important for most people, and maintaining an IGF-1 level below 150 ng/ml should be even more protective. Having IGF-1 levels in the serum that are lower than 80 ng/ml could be harmful, especially after the age of 75.

Those who want to improve their health and live longer should make it a priority to limit their consumption of animal protein throughout the majority of their adult lives in order to keep their levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) moderately, but not dangerously, low. Protein digestion might become more difficult with advancing age. The inclusion of greens, seeds, and beans in the Nutritarian diet to ensure enough protein intake with ageing minimises the excessive reduction of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) that is typically found in senior people who follow other plant-based diets. Because of the emphasis placed on consuming an adequate amount of plant-based proteins and a comprehensive range of micronutrients, the Nutritarian diet is the diet-style that has the strongest scientific backing for increasing human longevity.

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