What kinds of food aggravate both stress hormones and growth hormones?
Having a lack of blood sugar will cause stress hormones to rise, as one of their actions is to break down muscle glycogen, protein and to a lesser extent fats to convert them into blood sugar. In terms of generally stressing the cells, organs and systems of the body, unresolved inflammation is, in my opinion, the primary type of nutritional stress. Food intolerances are one of the biggest triggers of an unresolved inflammatory response, but the incidence of food intolerances varies greatly from individual to individual. The most common sources of intolerances are dairy products and wheat, which can both trigger a significant inflammatory response in affected individuals. Gas, abdominal bloating and diarrhea are all common signs of food intolerances.
A much more common source of unresolved inflammation is an imbalance of omega 6 and omega 3 fats in the diet. Depending on which researcher you believe, an ideal balance is 3:2 or 2:1 (in favor of omega 6). That is quite staggering when you consider that a typical US diet ranges from 14:1 to 20:1. When omega 6 fats are taken in excess, they promote the release of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids (a class of hormones). What is more alarming is that it is now believed that certain anti-oxidants (especially synthetic ones taken individually) can actually help to fuel this inflammatory response, which certainly has implications for those who consume an excess of omega 6 (mainly from processed and fried foods) while taking anti-oxidant supplements in the belief that they will improve their health.
Omega 3 fats help to resolve inflammation by triggering the release of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, and they promote the release of another type of recently discovered compounds called Resolvins, which help to resolve inflammation.
The growth hormone part of your question is a little less straight forward. We know that growth hormone (GH) has many beneficial actions on the body, such as helping to repair DNA and damaged muscle from training. It also assists in the recovery and maintenance of many physiological processes. However, many sub-types of GH have recently been identified, and their interactions with IGFs (Insulin-like Growth Factors) are complex. In terms of a training response, exercise (especially the type that stimulates lactic acid accumulation) can trigger GH release. In a general sense, amino acids taken before and after training have been reported to stimulate GH production in some studies but not in others (it would appear to depend on training status and study design). Long term caloric restriction is associated with higher growth hormone, as has a low glycaemic index diet. However, as GH is predominantly released during the night, getting a good night’s sleep is pretty key in maintaining physiologic levels.